Inspiring everyday escapism with David Bloch, founder of Solstice menswear (interview)

Inspiring everyday escapism with David Bloch, founder of Solstice menswear (interview)

After working for several interesting brands as a marketer, Swiss entrepreneur David Bloch took a big leap. The start of menswear label Solstice.  And he is doing an amazing job. David is not just creating some very nice clothing. It’s a complete story.   

To David, it’s all about offering modern, precise and functional essentials. The garments are simple, comfortable on the skin and with discrete details for an effortless look . An easy match with every customer’s current wardrobe.

From finding inspiration, to making the designs, selecting the right fabrics and final production, David has created a very stylish and interesting brand. All thought out with a lot of detail.

It’s awesome that David has shared his inspiring story via an interview!

‘Each collection’s ambition is to engage our audience in a journey outside of their daily routine’


Who’s David Bloch? Can you tell a bit more about yourself?

I am a 34 yo guy, born in Paris but living in Switzerland from a young age and I’m a father of a daughter who is  almost 3 yo. I have studied Business at University in Switzerland and the US (Miami), worked for corporate and NGO (Unilever, Coty, WWF) on big brands’ marketing (Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, Chloé, Balenciaga,..) before launching my own project in 2014. I am a fan of the outdoors, Japan, Nepal, Thai food, mountain bikes and snowboarding.. not in  any particular order of preference.

I am on the right side of the picture.

 

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Why did you came up with the idea of becoming a designer and entrepreneur?
Sometimes you like something very much, as a spectator, and you wonder if you would be good at doing it… so I wanted to test myself, being a fan of branding and simple fashion. I don’t know yet if I am good at it, but I am clearly having fun.  I’m learning a lot, one season after the others. I would highly recommend to anybody that has a dream of becoming  an entrepreneur to give it a try, it is a rollercoaster of emotions, but totally worth it.

 

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What’s the story of Solstice?
I have decided to jump and become an entrepreneur right after the birth of my daughter (arguably not the easiest time), as I thought that If I wouldn’t do it now.. I will never do it in the future. Over the previous years, I would have visited many fabrics’ tradeshow and manufactured prototypes, so at this time the 1st collection was already ready in my mind. But there is long hectic and fun road. From mind to the customers’ hands.

It took inspiration from renowned Swiss edginess in design, mostly architecture and graphic design (I love geometry!) using also my expertise in marketing, sustainability and the help of one of my graphic designer friend. The project came alive during the summer of 2014.

Each collection’s ambition is to engage our audience in a journey outside of their daily routine. The Solstice refers to 2 singular days in the year, the shortest and the longest one, where the sun (lat. sol) stand still (lat. stice) before reversing direction…

We would like Solstice to proposes its audience to thrive for singular days all year long with the motto of inspiring everyday escapism. Each season will have a specific thematic or destination. For Fall Winter 2015, our debut collection with Hunting Ensemble in the Netherlands, Solstice is travelling to Japan to the Northern Hokkaido island during the cold winter season.

 

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How do you describe the style of Solstice?
Solstice as a Swiss clothing brand for men.  It’s all about offering modern, precise and functional essentials. The garments are simple, confortable on the skin and with discrete details for an effortless look and an easy match with each consumers current wardrobe. In the collection, our strong focus is knitted garments for winter and summer.

‘The Solstice refers to 2 singular days in the year, the shortest and the longest one, where the sun (lat. sol) stand still (lat. stice) before reversing direction’.

 

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You’ve created The Swiss Shirt Project. What is it exactly?
Because, I come from Switzerland, it is also important for me to use and bring upfront the strength of Swiss local textile industry. With the Swiss Shirt Project, we try every season  to have some garments entirely or partly made in Switzerland. For FW15, it is the white Shirt with copper buttons, with a popeline fabric entirely made in Switzerland within 80km radius of Zurich.

The fabric story in 5 steps:

  1. Cultivation: the certified organic supima® cotton is cultivated in the US.
  2. Spinning: the chosen extra-long staple cotton fibers are spun by Hermann Buehler (the last spinner in   Switzerland and the worldwide leader) near Winterthur.
  3. Weaving: the Yarn is then woven through a mechanical process to a fabric by Jenny Fabrics in Glaris.
  4. Finishing: the finishing processes include pre-treatment, dyeing, mechanical and chemical finishing are made by Cilander in Herisau. Usage of environmentally harmful chemicals is prohibited.
  5. The fabrics: are marketed by Stotz & Co. Ltd and Ideas by Glarotex in Zurich and then delivered to Solstice.

 

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How do you get inspired?
Inspiration comes from everywhere, but the most important sources for me are when traveling in new places, we always try to find a location where we have a local contact that can introduce us to the real local daily life (but it is not always possible). Otherwise inspiration comes from observing people in the streets, books, scrolling Ebay for vintage stuff, museum (huge fan of everything connected to the Olympics), the internet and other fashion brands; Céline and Visvim for me!

‘I would highly recommend to anybody that has a dream of becoming  an entrepreneur to give it a try, it is a rollercoaster of emotions, but totally worth it’

 

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The Solstice ‘A Winter in Hokkaido’ collection is inspired while travelling to Japan.
Can you tell something more about this journey?
I went there for a totally different reason than fashion, as I actually was interested in the snow. The rumor was that Hokkaido is getting the lightest powder in the world falling everyday… and it is true! I have snowboarded there for 5 days, and it was the best 5 days of snowboard of my life. I did stop my snowboarding season when I came back, and it was mid January. Now while I was there I took the opportunity to visit Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka… and their culture blew my mind.

From there it was clear that I would do a collection around this trip, but it had to be the winter one. The FW15 was the right collection with Japanese inspired garments. The picture below is a good example, I wanted a fabric that could subtly represent the visual effect of the famous Japanese room divider “shoji”, that is how the geometric shirt was born.

 

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You’re doing a collaboration with artist and photographer Yves Suter.
How did you guys came up with the idea of working together?
When coming back from Japan, I was looking for a coffee table book on Hokkaido, that could remind me of my experience, by scrolling the internet I have found Yves Suter and bought immediately two of his books: Strawberry Snow and into the Great White. I loved them … and decide to send him email and see if he was interested in a collaboration. We met and realized we had a similar vision on Japan … and here we go.

‘The rumor was that Hokkaido is getting the lightest snow powder in the world falling everyday…and it is true!’

 

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How do you describe Solstice’s latest fall and winter collection?
The collection follows a man through his journey in Japan. The garments main attributes should meet the needs of the 3 following activities. First flying to the Hokkaido island before spending a few days in the village of Niseko.

1. Travel to Japan
Flying to Hokkaido main airport, Chitose near Sapporo. He is preparing his journey in Niseko by reading guide books about the region. He needs garments that adapt to the changing temperatures (thermo regulating > Merino wool), are confortable (combed cotton as soft as wool) and keep their shape even after a long haul flight.

2. Days in Niseko
After a cozy breakfast and warm tea in a local coffee shop, he heads to the slopes, 50 cm of fresh powder snow has fallen through the night. The day is on. He needs multiple layers to generate the warmth.

3. The evening
Let’s cool down for a well deserved break at the Onsen. On the menu for dinner is local seafood, traditional sushi or Japanese beef. Then a few drinks at the local bar. A popeline shirt, seed stitches knitwear and an heavy overshirt, all adapted to the cold winter conditions with a minimal but sophisticated look.

 

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Where can people buy your products?
In Switserland people can find our products via independent stores: Making Things, Qwstion flagship store, Monsieur Alain, Waldraud, Riviera, Melvins, Paradigme, Foound, Toku and die Handlung. In France via L’Exception and in the Netherlands in the Hunting Ensemble store.  As well as on our website. (www.thesolstice.cc)

You’re based in Lausanne? What would you recommend when visiting this place?
Yes, living in Lausanne now for the last 10 years. To visit, I would recommend the Musée de l’Elysée (photography), the Mudac (design), the Olympic museum and Lausanne TECH (EPFL) to see the Rolex Learning Center. If you come in Summer, you should visit Lutry Plage (only a 5 min drive). To eat, it would be la Croix d’Ouchy (Italian), Uchitomi (Sushi), Inglewood (Burger), the Burritos Brothers and le Café des Avenues (Sunday’s brunch). To drink Le St-Pierre, Le Bourg, Le Bourg plage, the Great Escape. If you want to do some sports, I would run by the lake from Lutry to Morges, paddle board in Préverenges or mountain bike in the woods above Lausanne.

What’s more in life besides Solstice?
My family, my friends, my cat… I need more time to have fun and spend with them.

What would be your ultimate adventure?
The ultimate fantasy adventure would probably to climb an high peak in the Himalaya, but I am far from being ready and trained for that… and I wouldn’t do it as tourist. More realistically, we are looking with friends to do a Swedish Triathlon’s 10 days vacation this year. 3 days of walking, 4 days of biking and 4 days of kayaking on our own. Between some Swedish islands… then when my daughter is slightly older, I would like to go back to Nepal with her and her mother to visit the Mustang.

What’s next for David Bloch and Solstice?    
Now we’re preparing the tradeshow season in Berlin and Paris to present the FW16 collection, which will be our largest so far. Inspired by vintage ski posters from 60’s and 70’s with outerwear for the first time. There’s are also new surprising knitwear styles and we’re bringing back old fashion fabrics (velour, corduroy, Swiss wool…)

Visit Solstice’s website for more information.

 

(photo credits of question 3 go to Yves Suter)

 

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