Bernhard Schweitzer
Bernhard Schweitzer

08 May. 2012


Schweitzer has been one of the leading stops for shop-fitting across Europe for over 80 years. In light of the emerging trend of sustainability, Sportswear International spoke with 42-year-old company head Bernhard Schweitzer about retail concept trends and the ongoing tide of heritage. Interview by Mona Schmadl

Sustainable shop-fitting and green store concepts are a current trend. What are the best measures that small shop owners can take to do their part?
The overall guidelines come from certifications. We, for example, are a member of the Green Building Council Italia and orientate ourselves with respect to the customer by the lastingness criteria of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) system. This includes efficient use of in-store water and energy and working with partners who appreciate sustainability. At our location in Naturns, Italy all of the energy used for production comes from a solar power system. The building is cooled with spring water and heated with the waste from production. This saves resources while also reducing waste. Sustainable stream suppliers and the use of regional materials are other criteria that small traders can also apply. 

Does a sustainable store have to follow a certain concept from A to Z or are retailers implementing green ideas step by step?
Sustainability is an extensive subject that includes shop creation. The numerous criteria of LEED show the many optimisation processes that contribute to green thought but that might not be visible to the customer at the end of the day. The green ratio of a store depends not only on the trader, but also on architectural and energy conditions. 

Trendy material: Wood, wood and once more wood.
Trendy material: Wood, wood and once more wood.
Which materials are in great demand?
Authenticity is back. This means that sustainability has become more important and also that there has been a renaissance in very basic shop-fitting approaches, whether it concerns materials, production or handiwork. This means specifically wood, wood and once more wood. Colors are also important at the moment – with black very much in demand once again. The 50s are back in terms of color and materials, like metal for example, with fabric details such as cushion covers providing a warm contrast.

What are the standards in fitting mono- versus multi-brand stores?
Mono-stores are formed by identity; they have to tell the brand’s story through the brand's image and idea, which are key. Multi-brand stores are always caught between the store's identity - the multi-label surface - and the identity of the brand - the single surfaces. For instance, we developed a clear design language with many highlights for the Swiss gentlemen's outfitter PKZ in Geneva. The clear design provides for a consistent store identity while highlights and accents give character to the single brands. The design elements which recur on all brand surfaces connect the different identities into a logical, overall concept. 

Is there an end in sight to the ‘Heritage’ theme that keeps popping up in fashion as well as in new store concepts? What will come afterwards?
Heritage is still important as a design style, but what’s coming up now are the respective production processes. Craft is becoming more and more important as a means of transporting authenticity. These topics are everywhere at the moment, including the fair in Milan.

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