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In Talk: borne by Elise Berger
Friday, Mar 18, 2011, 10:29 AM
We all have aberrant dreams as children. Maybe we’d all end up as astronauts and race car drivers if we’d followed our initial imaginings, but some elect to make it a reality. For Christine Elise Kölnberger of Borne by Elise Berger, her beginnings are carved in the sidewalks at Daruperstrasse No.9 in Nottuln, North-West Germany, the location of her grandfather’s workshop as a menswear tailor and where her admiration for design first flourished.
Her debut collection for SS 2011 season titled Little Seres (‘beings’ in Spanish), was designed with the idea that each piece has its own personality. It’s true, looking at the style names from the line-up you’d think it was an unfolding of a nobility procession with personas such as Richter, Baron, Koenig, Prinz, Fuerst, Graf, Kaiser, Adel, and Wagner in attendance. Each item also comes with its distinct Geburtsband (birth band) bearing the Borne ‘O,’ which can be worn either as a bracelet or necklace, so it travels with the owner anywhere he or she goes.
Currently working on the release of her second collection First Flight, TribaSpace recently had the opportunity to catch up with Kölnberger.
TribaSpace: When was the definitive moment for you in deciding to launch your own label?
Christine Elise Kölnberger: Launching my own label was something I always wanted to do, but just after graduating and whilst interning with Preen, I found out I was pregnant!
So it wasn’t until New Years Day of 2010 we decided to change our lives completely. Our son Max was 18 months old by that point, my husband was fed up of working crazy hours in banking, and we both wanted to run our own business – it felt like the right time.
Once we had made the decision, everything else happened quite quickly and before we knew it, Borne was a reality. Deciding to make the leap of faith that day was the defining moment!
What does it take to create a successful brand?
One of the key things is that you have to know what you want the brand to stand for and be incredibly passionate about it. This ethos that you identify then needs to be translated into every aspect of the brand, from how you communicate to how you do business day-to-day.
With the recent launch of your online shop, how do you view e-trade as distinguished from traditional retailing?
For Borne, an online shop was the quickest, easiest, and most cost-effective way of establishing a direct relationship with the customer. In that sense, traditional bricks-and-mortar retailing just can’t compete, and e-commerce will continue to grow as a route to market for new brands.
However there is still a sense of ritual and ceremony associated with traditional retailing that continues to be critical to establishing a brand’s DNA; clothing is still about touching and feeling.
How do new online platforms, such as TribaSpace, affect your business? Do they help you access the international market?
One of the things we have been amazed by since we started Borne is the power of online platforms to reach a global audience. We have had visitors from 98 different countries to our website since we started last year, which is mainly a result of the international access that these online platforms offer. This has generated a series of interesting opportunities for Borne outside of the UK and Spain, which just wouldn’t have occurred without this exposure.
As a new designer approaching potential stockists, what criteria do you follow in your selection process?
When we launched Borne we put a lot of work into selecting potential stockists, we looked at what other brands they stocked and thought carefully about which brands we wanted to be seen next to.
However when we started to approach our shortlist, we realised that it is a lot more complicated than this, and getting access to buyers is a lot harder than we thought it would be.
We now use a sales agent in the UK, Studio 13, who already has relationships with the buyers as well as the experience to know which stockists could potentially be a good fit for Borne and vice versa.
Shawden Sheabar | TribaSpace
Ready-to-Wear, Publishing, PR, Sales, Buying
Markets: Other, Women's, Men's, Children's
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