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Swiss Style... and what about the Friday bags?
(originally published in the May 2009 issue of Expat In Switzerland)

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Coming to Switzerland after living in a Mediterranean country, I was struck by the difference of the Swiss sense of style. The style of the Swiss seems to be a mixture of elegant sophistication albeit somewhat boring compared to what I was used to before. Flashy and colourful clothes are more the exception in Switzerland. You might see a variety of colours and styles at special festivals and in night clubs but usually the look is sports-casual in freetime and in business it seems compulsory to be wearing black suits and costumes. A colourful suit such as blue marks you out at any business gathering. Most will inevitably be dressed in black and maybe grey but very rarely something else. My father in law once sent me a funny photograph taken one sunny spring Saturday lunchtime in Lucerne in which you saw all the people at the waterfront dressed in black. I found this shocking because the leading fashion brands are very well represented here, there is a vibrant art scene and yet so many folk in the street have the appearance of clones.

One example of this which those of you who have been in Zurich might have noticed is the trend for ―”Friday” bags so called due to their having a logo of "Freitag" on them. At first I thought the sign must be exchangeable for every day of the week but I had to learn the hard way, one day I was on the train and saw this bag again and thought to myself ―”oh thank god its Friday” only to realize later it was only Thursday. After this disappointment I decided to find out what it was all about. When I checked on the net I discovered that Freitag are a brand of bags. Apparently the two "Freitag" brothers created this bag and it was mainly to meet the needs of Zurich dispatch bike riders who required a functional, tough and water-resistant bag. They started out in 1993 and now sell their products around the world (www.freitag.ch).

The free German language Zurich weekday evening paper features a stylish person in each issue with a photo of the somebody together with a description of the clothes he or she is wearing and how much they cost. I think a lot of people in Switzerland try too hard to look stylish and then fail because at the end of the day a brand does not automatically afford you stylish status. You either have it or not. Perhaps the nagging drive to compete in the style stakes is responsible for the trend for nude hiking? My conclusion is to still show my style, just adopt a bit to the Swiss and mix. But the secret of happiness in your clothing habits is to hold on to and believe in your own style even if it is nudism.

Christina Schmidt

Christina is a German national who relocated to Zurich in May 2008 and writes regularly for Expat-InCH.com

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