Portrait: Vanessa Hambaryan, style incubator

Portrait: Vanessa Hambaryan, style incubator

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Sandals, raffia and macramé: a big favorite on Instagram and Pinterest moodboards, the boho and hippie chic style surfs on the trend of floral and ethnic prints in a skilful mix of delicate textures.

The phenomenon has not escaped the sharp eye of Vanessa Hambaryan. At the head of the Folk Spirit Market in Lausanne since 2017, this fashion enthusiast loves nothing more than sharing her favorites and supporting Swiss brands in their branding with tailor-made campaigns. Five years after its first edition, the annual event has no less than 40 brands in 2022, most of them Swiss. So, folk spirit, are you there? Certainly. Driven by Vanessa’s formidable efficiency, the festival set up in record time with three pieces of string quickly established itself as a springboard for new talent and a showcase of choice for more established designers.

On the lookout for local and independent brands

Contrary to urban legend, Swiss fashion is not confined to a glamorous utopia. The Lausannoise has made it her mission to prove it by making fun of received ideas. “After the first edition, many people asked us: when is the next one?, remembers the 41-year-old entrepreneur. Before the Folk, I had acquired a lot of experience through the Edelweiss Showroom and the Swiss Fashion Point association, as well as Le Vestiaire des Créateurs.”

“The bohemian attracted me, both for clothing and decoration. I realized the potential by noticing that no creator market had opted for this positioning.

Then begins the study of the market and the approach of brands, preferably local and independent. The event placed under the sign of style and design has gradually expanded after having really taken off in 2020. I managed to create a particular universe thanks to the contributions of local artists who lend me floral compositions and photo exhibitions. On a personal level, more than fashion, it is the style that captivates her. “My style is a mixture of styles with a common thread: prints, mix & match and, always, a little twist on big accessories, jewelry, bags, beautiful materials. I really like vintage and only wear a few brands. One day I am very streetwear, the next very bohemian with dresses, movement.”

“I don’t have a set style, but since I’m interested in a lot of things, I’m quite eclectic. And I love anything very bulky.”

Consume less and better

Realizing your dream of a style incubator has a cost in reality. For Vanessa, that means a state of emergency that’s perfectly balanced between creativity and quick fixes. If the young mother of a little boy of 5 and a half does not count her hours during the week, she makes sure that her job does not overflow on her weekend, devoted to the family sphere. To her son as well as to fashion addicts faithful to Folk, she divulges the same message: consume less and better. Either, rather than feeling guilty, let’s learn to take responsibility. “Even if people continue to buy fast fashion, I observe a change in consumer habits. I became aware of my purchases.”

“They say you have to stop buying from Zara, H&M and Mango, but I’m from a generation fed up with Ikea and McDonald’s. We have been unaccustomed to prices that are too low and do not correspond to reality. Besides, is it wrong to want something new? I am not sure. We must not neglect the notion of pleasure.

While amplifying the voices of others and creating synergies is her specialty, she does not exclude taking the creative step herself. Maybe someday. “I’m not manual, I don’t know how to sew. But I have capsule collection ideas, it’s a matter of time and cost. I have to find the right person, that we share the same vision. I want to be sure that I don’t go straight into the wall. When I’m ready, everything will be well thought out.” Fashion pays nothing to wait.

The one who inspired her: I found my style in my thirties and I don’t care what people think. I understand my mother better when she talked to me about timeless basics.

Folk Spirit Market, June 24 and 25, 2022 at Espace Amaretto, Lausanne.

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