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What It's Like To Own The Smallest Fashion House In The World.

Imagine running an entire fashion house by yourself. Marketing, designing clothes, building your own website and much more. Seems pretty hard, right? On this site, I want to empower female business owners. Because even tough it's hard, it pays off in the end. Today, we meet Franziska Schlupski; a designer and business owner that focuses on creating 1940s - 1950s inspired couture as well as non-couture clothing.

Q: How did you develop such a passion for vintage fashion?

A: “Well, I have to say there was no key experience that made me fall in love with vintage. It somehow came naturally over the years. I have always been into all things with a history. I loved to rummage around the cabinets of my grandparents and find old objects, materials, books and knick- knacks. Looking at old photographs and watching old movies made me realize how I love the aesthetics of that era. I always loved creating and crafting and I think it was only a matter of time until those two passions melted together.”

Q: Once an item sells out in your store, It’s gone forever. What made you decide that?

A: “I always wish to create something special – something that works against anything mass-produced in the fashion industry. Promoting and encouraging individual styles rather than sameness is something wonderful. Offering limited editions adds value to each single piece as clients won't see the same outfit over and over again. Surely, single pieces can be styled in various ways and you can always add your very personal touch to it but I was never convinced of mass-produced clothes and hence there was no question to offer special, limited pieces to my clients only.

On the other hand, being the person who hand-makes each piece it would literally bore me to death to manufacture the same pieces for many months in a row.“

A lot of your products are handmade. Can you tell me a little bit about the design process?

A: “Each Prettie Lanes Original is handmade in my Swiss atelier – early this year I also started to add a few third party products (bags) to my range that simply complete the looks perfectly.

The design process varies a bit depending on what inspires me to create a certain piece. Sometimes it's a structure, a fabric, a color, a pattern, a flower or architecture that inspires me to design a garment. And sometimes I have particular fashion elements in mind that I wish to turn into full designs. Then I usually source fabrics and order samples to find the perfect material.

One thing is for sure – during this process I barely sketch anything which is rather unusual but I sort of have everything in my head and it's the way that works best for me. Exceptions made are the custom designs I create for clients as they of course need something on paper to better imagine design ideas.

Having the overall design in mind and the right material, I start creating the sewing pattern, usually followed by adjusting my ideas and finishing the overall look. If I am happy with it, I start grading the sewing pattern into the different sizes and manufacture official samples. And then it's all about photographing the design, creating the corresponding texts and website pages, newsletters, social media promotions and then it's ready to go online! All of this can take a few days up to many months – sometimes it takes for instance ages to source the right fabrics or create just the right shape of a garment and sometimes everything seems to fall in place within just a few days. Being creative for me also means to "go with the flow" - no matter if it's days or months.”

Q: All the fabric you use is natural and biodegradable. Why was it so important to you not to use fabric such as polyester or elastane?

A: “I started banning Polyesters from Prettie Lanes in late 2015 step by step mainly for environmental reasons but also for authenticity (these fibers were not used back then) and quality reasons (How

could one of the cheapest fabrics on earth add value to a garment, right?!). With Polyesters being artificially made fibers and a kind of plastic, they are very cheap in comparison to other fibers and have rather less good characteristics“. Polyester fabrics are not breathable (can't absorb moisture), so you are likely sweating in them. When washing, each time they release harmful microplastics into the water and after all, Polyesters are not biodegradable and are one of the contributors to the waste problem we have nowadays.

It's an on-going strategy and there is still much to do and to improve but I am constantly working on better concepts and processes and using more and more new sustainable fibers such a Tencel or Lyocell.

Q: All your designs are period authentic, where do you usually get your inspiration from? (museums, old magazines, etc.)

A: “Literally from each and everything that surrounds me. It can be a color combination I see in a store, a shape I notice in nature or a pattern from a building. The list is endless and surely includes old fashion magazines and photographs to a high degree too.

Q: Your fashion house is currently the smallest in the world. What’s it like running an independent fashion house all on your own?

A: “I say that more jokingly than seriously. Obviously, a fashion house is much bigger, but I think the link is there in a way. Even though I am doing everything myself, I feel like I was lucky to build up quite a broad range of products for my wonderful clients over the years. All started with a small collection of day wear and now I own my demi- couture brand too, offering hats and accessories and adding different lines to my day wear. It ́s pure freedom of creativity and I can be endlessly flexible in what I create, when and with what materials. It ́s definitely a dream coming true. However, I can ́t deny that besides all of this creative freedom, there is also a lot of work behind it. Including marketing, accounting, website building, material sourcing and much more!

It can be overwhelming sometimes to work on all things on your own without any partner or employee to discuss and plan with but I am good at structuring my day, making to do lists and scheduling activities to make the best out of each day. I think structuring and planning is the key when operating a one-person company.

Q: Any up and coming designs or announcements we can look forward too?

A: "I am always happy to work on new designs each Sunday in my little studio. Then I can go crazy and pull out all my creativity. New designs are launching year-around for all seasons and some Fall fashions just have been released recently!

In the past months, I added a new line to my day wear which is called „Canvas Collection“ and features new and bygone favourite designs in classic and timeless shades of bright neutrals such as white and beige. It shall be a line for highly versatile pieces that literally can serve as a blank canvas for your wardrobe. "This collection is permanent," which means there will constantly be added new designs. However, each design is still limited edition as always and therefore the designs. Offers will change over time.

There will also launch another new, permanent line to my day wear at the end of this year – it ́s the  Ruby Collection - so stay tuned for more infos about that one!"