Philomena Zanetti - Winner of the mentoring program 2017

This year, sustainability and green fashion were the premise for the winning labels of the mentoring program 2017. We talked to Julia Leifert, CEO of the Label Philomena Zanetti.

In May 2017 the Fashion Councils Germany and the Berliner Senate of Administration for Economy, Energy and Enterprises as well as Messe Frankfurt (organizer of the Greenshowroom and Ethical Fashion Show Berlin) announced the winners of this year's mentoring program 2017: Benu Berlin and Philomena Zanetti. Both labels convinced with their sustainable character and their elaborate way of working. We met Julia Leifert, CEO of the Philomena Zanetti label for a short interview.

Dear Julia, Congratulations, you won the Mentoring Program 2017 - How will your life as the designer of „Philomena Zanetti“ change?

Thank you very much. I was very happy with about the announcement. As a matter of fact, my team and I will continue to follow our vision as a pioneer to make a statement and show that sustainability and the highest quality in the manufacturing industry are also part of the high-end womenswear segment.

For the first time, the Fashion Council Germany and the Senate for the Economy, Energy and Enterprises made the requirement that supported labels work as a sustainable fashion label. A strong statement for the entire fashion break. What advance you recognized about sustainability within fashion, from your beginnings?

For some brands of the genre and, above all, the streetwear and outdoor brands, sustainable production has been integrated for a long time already. Even the verticals have discovered the subject for themselves. Whether it is only "greenwashing", in others it is already part of the DNA. It is a very positive development, which contributes to the strengthening of the consciousness for the topic also with the customers.

I also note that more and more companies are coming together in pre-production, fabrics, fibers and finishing, and sharing their know-how to bring the entire industry forward. In the high end area, I still see a lot of potential. Quality and comprehensive sustainability at the highest level work very well together.

There are still many people, which thinks sustainability is equivalent to "unsexy". My vision is to move to change. Luxury fashion works with depth and I would like to help make this concept a standard for the whole industry.

You were choosed against numerous competitors together with Benu by the jury. How did you convince them?

The selection process consisted of two phases, a written application and presentation of the label in the first phase, after which the finalists were allowed to hold an live presentation, followed by a questionnaire in front of the jury. I think it was crucial that I was myself. I have explained my conviction and my vision A powerpoint presentation, website and a functioning social media presence should be the base today to present themselves.

How will you the mentoring program supportfrom now on?

I am looking forward to the Berlin Fashion Week and the new experiences I will make there, get to know new people, make contacts with cooperation partners, meet dealers and representatives of the press. This is also the focus. We are very well positioned with two exhibition venues and the additional presentation of the FCG with all the mentees of the past seasons on the premium and ready to take the next step with Philomena Zanetti. In addition, we will start in an intensive B2B phase afterwards, but also bring the label to the next level in communication. Together with the mentors, the various corporate divisions are screened and optimized. We have also planned some innovations, which will be the focus in the near future. This will be an exciting and very intense time. The possibilities here are incomprehensibly great, but everything in pioneer work. We are looking forward to it.

What opportunities do you see in Berlin as a modest location?

The city inspires and Berlin as a lighthouse of German creativity and culture attracts the international audience every day. The diversity of the city and the feeling of the metropolis are unique in Germany.

Berlin is the place that can best match to the fashion community. I hope hat in the future even more will be invested in the individual support of young designers and creatives.

The city and its designers can develop a unique feature only if you do not compare with other cities. The peculiarity of the young creatives living here is important and must be supported. Only then the radiance of Berlin can shine internationally. The work of the FCG and the Senate for Economics, Energy and Enterprises is already an important step in the right direction.

Why did you decide to work as a sustainable label in the past years and what were the difficulties at the beginning?

For me there was no alternative - either or not at all – a fair and conscious dealing with my environment in all areas of my life. So it was clear - if I found a label one day, then in the sustainable area.

Even today there are many problems, but these are primarily the ones with which every new brand has to deal. People see the look and design, but they don not see it with the depth of the products. Today, fashion is too often substitutable. The verticals bring the look of the international shows to the shop floors immediately. This is a challenge for us. Staging, incentives, creating covetousness, enlightening everyday life - fashion is much more important for people, but all this is also possible in the long term. Neither man nor animal must suffer.

Furthermore, difficult to the sustainable sector is that the transparent value chain from the raw material to the end product is very time and cost intensive. Many of them consumers are like: "Bio yes, but please discounter price." Of course, this is not possible if we want to pay our employees fairly and offer a top product to the costumers. We offer fashion for all those who share the same vision and not just following trends.