Who isn’t familiar with the naturalistically depicted frogs, bugs, and plants on a colored background? In the 1990s, the garishly colored neckties from Fabric Frontline adorned many a fashionable and self-confident gent.
By the 1960s, Zurich’s prominence in the global silk industry had dwindled. Swiss textile exports found themselves needing to keep up with the transformation of the international fashion industry. The triumph of synthetic fabrics and growing Asian competition necessitated a fundamental structural rethinking. Many businesses were forced to close, and investments were made in new technologies. In the field of clothing textiles, a young generation of entrepreneurs came to the fore in the 1980s who put their faith in independent designs that did not slavishly follow the latest fashions. Outstanding examples of this approach are the Zurich silk brands En Soie and Fabric Frontline. Both embrace an independent attitude to style, image, and promotion, and base their strategy on integrating each individual design into a programmatically developed label. At the silk company Fabric Frontline, founded in 1980 by Andi, Elsa, and Maya Stutz, the house style features figurative motifs on a colored background. The scientific illustrator Cornelia Hesse-Honegger (b. 1944) started working for the company as a freelance designer in 1987, creating silk fabrics with the detail of scientific illustrations. These textiles with their precision drawings and high-quality printing document her ecological concerns about endangered species and animal and plant mutations in the vicinity of Swiss nuclear power plants. The fabrics make a bold statement—for example when made into ties and worn every day by newscaster Charles Clerc on Switzerland’s nightly news broadcast. (Renate Menzi)