From her business chops to her sewing skills, Veronika Brusa is self educated. “A lot of people, they need to be taught. And I never did,” Brusa says. “If I want something I figure it out.”

Trained in graphic design, Brusa has taken a convoluted route to end up at NYFW on Friday. She’s lived in three major, and very different, cities. Spent four years earning graphic design degree. Opened a brick and mortar in Zürich and a factory in Shanghai. Here’s how she got there.

To connect with BERENIK head over to their official website http://www.berenik.ch/

Photographer: Philipp Bachmann

Photographer: Philipp Bachmann

You were trained as a graphic designer. How did you get started in fashion?

I started doing entire wardrobes in high school. I didn’t have the money to go shopping, and I couldn’t find the things I had in my head. I’d sit at my machine every night and every weekend. I was obsessed. I started to do small production, to small shops in Switzerland [where Brusa grew up]. But I was producing myself, and I didn’t want to produce 30 of the same thing. That’s why I stopped. I could have sold more, but I couldn’t produce more. So I focused more on artwork. I didn’t really love it.

Then I moved with my boyfriend to China when I was 27. China had all this possibility. It was really clear I had to do it—I bought a cheap sewing machines and started with prototypes.

Photographer: Remi Pujol

Photographer: Remi Pujol

You’ve lived all over the world. How long have you called New York home?

A year. I’m traveling a lot—for months I was on a business trip. Each season I spend a month or two in Shanghai—for prototypes, printmaking, fabric sourcing and shoe making. I lived in Shanghai for quite a while so I know it really well. I know it better than New York. It’s a homecoming.

Photographer: Remi Pujol

Photographer: Remi Pujol

You frequent Paris, Switzerland, Shanghai and New York—does your aesthetic change depending on where you’re designing?

It has an influence, but I don’t really think it changes. When I first lived in Shanghai, I came from Switzerland which is a very small country with very small cities. To live in a huge city was really overwhelming for me.

Photographer: Remi Pujol

Photographer: Remi Pujol

But did it inspire you?

It impressed me a lot. The architecture of all the high rises and elevated roads. I’m fascinated by new buildings. China is a very different aesthetic with their high rises—they make really crazy shit on the top. It’s not in that sense beautiful. Shanghai is like, “What is that?!” It’s inspiring but not in a visual way like New York.

And Chinese people are very inspiring because you see people walking around in the weirdest stuff. They are not embarrassed about anything. It opened me up.

My brand was born there—of the city and the people.

What about New York architecture inspires you?

The symmetry and the size. It’s the aesthetic that happens when civilization tries to fit as many people as possible. We are surrounded by forests. Everyone could have a lot of space. It’s crazy people do that. It’s fascinating.

BERENIK_AW15_CAMPAIGN-6.jpg

Photographer: Remi Pujol

You have a factory in China, But you don’t design with sweatshops at all?

No, there’s 30 people. I go there often. I blog from there. I eat with them. I stand behind it. I can look them in the eye.

So what are the benefits of “Made in China”?

China stocks fabrics—you order more fabric at 4 p.m. and the next morning it’s there. They’re very efficient and very reliable. That’s why I stay there.

Photographer: Remi Pujol

Photographer: Remi Pujol

Walk us through a normal business day in Shanghai?

In Shanghai I have this completely different reality. I get up around 6 a.m. because I have to get to the bus station before rush hour. In the bus I think about the new styles. Designing is all about thinking—the rest is just realizing the ideas into something you can transform. I arrive at the factory and usually need to check out stuff—like patterns they made the day before. We do sampling [for Fall/Winter 2015] at the same time the Spring/Summer 15 production is running. So I answer questions for the production too. Then at some point I work on the worksheet for the new styles. I make technical drawings and tell them how to adjust patterns and which fabric goes where. It’s basically a day of decision making.

Photographer: Remi Pujol

Photographer: Remi Pujol

You also said you value decision-making in your clothing—explain?

The simpler the design, the more decisions you have to make. People think it’s the other way around. But I think the more basic, the harder it gets. It’s easy to put stuff on clothes. It’s harder to reduce.

It’s a Japanese way of aesthetic. I think that’s why Japan likes my stuff a lot. They just get it. Others have a hard time understanding because it’s very simple. It’s like art too—most people can understand the value of a well-done landscape painting. But a very abstract Japanese ink painting, where you can barely see the landscape, not everyone can perceive this beauty. But those painters would practice for years to get the right ink shape—even if it looks like a coincidence. I think I work in that way.

Photographer: Remi Pujol

Photographer: Remi Pujol

Subscribe