I recently discovered this very elegant, luxury brand, The Small Gatsby from Vienna which takes its inspiration from the style metropolises of the early 20th century. They combine heritage design elements to create contemporary, wearable couture for children.
The Small Gatsby SS15 collection, Hide & Seek is designed for chilldren 0-12 years old and is made of soft silks, gorgeous linens and crisp cotton.
It’s about time we interviewed the woman behind this beautiful brand.
Would you mind introducing yourself and your brand to our readers?
My name is Teresa Zimmermann, I’m from Vienna, and have founded The Small Gatsby after my daughter Helena was born. It is a family luxury brand, taking luxury beyond the gold: We are sourcing consciously, only using the worthiest materials – made locally, in traditional ways, by people who love what they do – and blend them with the small ranges of ecologically certified fabrics of Europe’s finest cloth makers.
We are producing locally, everything is created and manufactured by couture seamstresses and –knitters, small houses, and people we all know by name. Even for the big production jobs we are visiting the sites (which are just a two-hours-drive away), and talk to the people who work there, making sure they enjoy what they are doing. We want to be aware and proud of what we and our children wear so close to our skin. And enjoy the fact that we know where it comes from.
Where did the name The Small Gatsby originate from?
When my daughter was just about to be born Helena’s father, who always thought that that I must be from another era (he was funny that way), gave me The Great Gatsby as an audiobook, so I could while away the time, while ironing tiny onesies and anticipating my new life as a mother. And he was the one who came up with the name, when I started to get recognized for my distinct designs.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background? How did you become a children’s fashion designer?
I’m actually a brand architect, having helped to create the stories behind artists and products in the international entertainment business for over a decade. And my grandmother was a tailor. I guess it just came together at one point – what I grew up with and what I acquired.. and I got truly lucky, that the story I tell with my designs are loved by so many people of all ages.
What are the inspirations or motivations behind your design? Is there a style decade that you are inspired by?
I’m deeply inspired by the years between the fin de siecle and the 1930ies. Mostly it’s the twenties – there was such an eagerness to live life to its full capacity. Just like children have.
And what motivates me most is the change in perspective about luxury: People more and more appreciate what they are given and wish to preserve it for their children. “A deeper luxury” is what they are seeking, and I aspire to be an answer when it comes to fashion for their daughters and sons.
Which is your favourite piece from the SS15 collection?
That would be the Iris Dress for Girls and the Bertie Blazer for Boys. Both are so light and comfortable, made of finest cotton, silk and linen. And they offer the perfect silhouette, elegant and sophisticated. What’s better than having a statement piece you can dash around in, give it a quick wash and wear it again the next day?
Do you have children? How does that influence your work?
Yes, Helena, my daughter, just turned three. She inspires me with her immediate way of living, her natural grace – and she grounds me. It doesn’t make sense to create the prettiest garment, which cannot be cleaned properly, since she will decorate it with ice cream eventually.
And surely – I work funny hours: early mornings, lunch time, early afternoons and late nights. Because I spend my time with her after Kindergarten. It feels natural this way.
What are some essentials that every child should have in their closet?
A good, perfectly cut cotton shirt. You can wear it on the playground and to a baptism, if you find the ideal silhouette and cotton. I love our Francis Shirt. It’s got a little stand-up collar, you can simply slip it over your head, roll up the sleeves and add jeans. Or smoking trousers. Or a tutu. It’s always perfect.
And when it comes to the essentials in a wardrobe, I think its most important how a garment feels like. Not only is it closest to our children’s skin but also, we, the parents and grown up friends are close to our kids constantly, hold them, cuddle them, embrace them. Soft, gorgeous, luxurious materials for them are always a bit of a self-indulgence too, lets admit it….
What are the most rewarding and most challenging aspects of your job?
Most challenging is making everyone feel at ease and happy with what we do – my team, suppliers, the kids who wear our garments, the parents who look at them in matter of style and quality, as much as myself. It is tough to always go the extra mile to produce locally, source carefully and not force down prices. Pressure is high to be faster and cheaper. But we don’t compromise.
I guess the most rewarding moments are, when I meet people, who wish to preserve what is given to them. Who appreciate the true value of things created to last, created with cultivated know how and passion. I’m lucky I can work with a handful of them every day, and it makes me happy to see them proud of what they are part of.
And then, there is the face of a child who puts its hands into the pockets of our garments, and finds them softly lined with velvet or satin. That moment of surprise and the pure joy about the sensation, I love that.
If one of our readers is Vienna for 24 hours. What one thing would you recommend they do?
If you are with kids, go and visit the Wien Museum – there is a gorgeous and lovely curated exhibition about Mira Lobe who wrote „Little I-Am-Me“ (and so many more books we have all read and now pass them on to our children). I was very moved by all the memories I didn’t even know I had stowed away somewhere in my heart. And Helena loved it!
And then go have some cake at Gerstner or any of the cafés downtown.
If you sneak away for a weekend for two, dress up and wander the little streets behind Graben, Steffl and Kärnterstraße downtown. That’s true time travelling: small vintage jewellers, glove makers and tailors, shoe makers and antiques stores are hidden there, selling their treasures. Get yourself a Gulasch at the „Alt Wien“ Café, and end up in the „Blaue Bar“ of Hotel Sacher. Tiny, intimate, most exquisite and of another world.
Feel free to visit www.thesmallgatsby.com to have a look at their wonderful designs.
Photographs taken by Emily Kornya