You’re a strong mother-daughter team – how did that come about?
Founder and designer Barbara Schoppe: I have had a love of textiles since the cradle. My mother was a master tailor and I have wanted to design my own fashion since I was a child. I started my international career in the fashion and beauty business. I have worked for Chanel, Christian Dior and Kathleen Madden, where I gained a lot of experience and knowledge. In 2007, I established the cashmere label Philo-Sofie, and my daughter Franziska Stremme has actively supported me as CEO.
Two different generations and different characters – you must have different opinions occasionally. Do you have any tips for constructive cooperation?
Barbara Schoppe: Opposites create friction. Constructive criticism is important for success.
Franziska Stremme: I just try to push my vision forward. Sometimes it works – sometimes it doesn’t. (laughs)
Franziska, what led you from Tyrol to Shanghai?
After I completed my studies in fashion marketing at Polimoda Florence, my path led me to Shanghai – to Agnona as a junior retail buyer for womenswear – then to the team at Greater China Ermenegildo Zegna as central merchandiser. At the same time, I completed a degree in Mandarin Chinese. I have been with the family company since the end of 2015 and have been working closely with Chinese producers and taking responsibility for developing the collection and monitoring production.
How was it in Shanghai, and what do you like most about the metropolis?
It was amazing! I love the city’s vibe, the safe atmosphere and people’s drive to implement ideas immediately. Despite the digital advances that Asia has in comparison with us in some instances, the country and the people remain curious – particularly when it comes to getting to know people. I have to say, my degree in Mandarin opened a lot of doors for me personally. I’m very grateful for that.
What separates Philo-Sofie from other cashmere labels?
Barbara Schoppe: Our philosophy is designing fashionable knits of the highest quality. Or more specifically – lifetime values but not basic. Every one of our pieces is a favourite of ours.
Franziska Stremme: We give the company a certain femininity and personality – there is always a twist or an unexpected detail to see or feel. For instance, we have combined different knit patterns in one sweater as well as bright yarns, and many items are copyrighted. We also constantly work with a primary colours palette and combine our neutral colours with strong contrasts in our collections, which has become our signature.