Thinking about how we (the human race) pollute our world it’s easy to feel very bad. Vienna based swimwear brand ‘Margaret and Hermione’ turn this immense pollution into something beautiful. The designer duo create unique and high quality swimsuits using fabric made out of old fishing nets found in the ocean. The label produces in Europe in a transparent environment under strict quality control, combining a sustainable, eco-friendly attitude that counteracts the often undiscerning fashion stereotype. They prove that the cliché of green clothing being beige and bulky really isn’t true, instead selling colorful, humorous bikinis and swimsuits for every body type. Barbara Gölles (whose grandma’s name was Margaret) is responsible for everything design, her partner in crime Andrea Kollar (whose grandma was Hermione) illustrates all the prints by hand. The two met during their studies and directly felt the connection and the aim to do something bigger than clothing.
How important is family to you?
A: We both have a very close connection to our families, although they don’t live in Vienna. My family lives in Lower Austria, Barbara’s live in Styria.
B: Both our parents are self-employed and run their own business. Our families are super proud of us.
What made you take the step to found your own brand?
A: Barbara and I first met during our studies under Raf Simons at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. After graduating, Barbara worked for Alexander McQueen in London and Mühlbauer Hat Manufacturers in Vienna. I worked as an independent illustrator. Beginning 2015 we both knew that it was the right time to found our own brand.
A: That’s simple: I love to swim…
B: … and I love summer but it was hard to find the right swimwear.
Tell us more about your unique fabric…
B: The raw material for our designs are fishing nets which are no longer in use and are found floating in the sea or entangled in wrecks and reefs. Every year, thousands of sea creatures perish in derelict fishing nets. The nets are subsequently processed into yarn and finally into swimwear fabrics. So our fabric comes directly from the sea.
What made you realize that you can’t use ‘traditional’ fabrics any longer?
A: Barbara and I both know the impact the fashion industry is making on the world, the people who are working in this industry and the environment. We are convinced that there are options and alternatives in this industry to manufacture responsibly and with care.
B: All of our production steps are carried out in transparent conditions and quality control in the European Union. Our sustainable fabric is just one part of it.
What is the biggest problem you’re facing because of your choice to produce fairly and sustainably?
The range of fabrics and materials is very limited, the production is more expensive and of course our prices are higher.
How do you imagine the future of sustainable fashion?
Once you see, you can’t un-see. It’s a very long way to go, but we think that sustainable fashion will be the future of fashion industry.
You make swimwear that suits every woman, how important is body-positivity in your work?
B: Women are very critical towards their own bodies. So most of them don’t feel confident wearing a bikini. We design bikinis and swimsuits that fit many different body types. We want women to feel confident and beautiful while wearing our bikinis, independent of any body-trends.
neubau eyewear finds its creative inspiration in Vienna’s 7th district – where/how do you find new ideas?
A: I guess living and talking with people and of course with each other.
B: It can be everything – just everyday situations.
As both of you are Vienna based – what’s your favorite go-to place in the Neubau district?
A: I am addicted to Vietnamese cuisine so I love to grab some Pho or Bo Bun at a very small Vietnamese restaurant called Tiger in Burggasse.
B: It’s Galerie Zeitlos in Burggasse/Kirchengasse. There you can have a look at all those beautiful design classics.
What makes this area special to you?
A: Neubau is super central and very easy to reach. There are all these beautiful small bars and restaurants.
B: It’s just perfect to hang out with friends.
Could you imagine leaving Vienna to move to another city? If so, which one?
A: So far I haven’t found any city I had better times than here in Vienna.
B: I love this place, so at the moment no.
Where to spend the next summer holidays?
A: I like to keep my summer holidays simple. Swimming is essential to me, so maybe Croatia.
B: I would love to go on holiday now, cause I’m really not a winter girl. In summer nearly every place is beautiful.
By Marieke Fischer