Established just over a year ago, LABEL17 is a haven of handcrafted beauty and design in the heart of Seefeld in Zurich. I caught up with owner and creative mind Cristina McDaniel to find out about Covid-19 business challenges, her design inspirations and the joy of simplicity.
Cross the threshold of LABEL17 and feel an instant sense of calm. Bathed in natural light, the studio is in an old Alfa Romeo car repair garage, tucked away down a quiet side street off bustling Seefeldstrasse. The exposed concrete floor and industrial architecture are the perfect juxtaposition to the premium leather and lambskin accessories that beautifully adorn the space.
Cristina and her partner and Head of Sales & Marketing, David Pfrommer, radiate an instant warmth and passion for the brand. Cristina’s journey to launching LABEL17 is an inspirational example of following your passion in life. After studying Media Communication in Texas, she returned to Switzerland and forged a successful career in marketing. Throughout her life, she carried a love of art and design. Cristina listened to this inner creative pull and embarked on learning the craft of jewellery making. Honing her skills with leather and gaining confidence in her creative vision, she left the world of marketing behind. LABEL17 collections now include bags, purses, scarves, clutches, shoes and other beautifully hand-crafted leather and lambskin accessories, all designed by Cristina.
Explore the studio and you’ll also discover a carefully curated selection of clothing, homewares and furniture from other handpicked brands. Cristina’s vision is to create accessories that manifest themselves in their purest form.
LABEL17 is about roughness, casualness, it’s earthy and elegant. For me, design is all about simplicity.
When ideas flow…
One of my favourite questions to ask designers is where they find inspiration? For Cristina, it’s everywhere. From architecture, to furniture, or form, but above all, the stunning natural beauty and colours found in Morocco have captured her heart. The vibrancy of the winding souks, the texture of a door finish to the colours of the Agafay desert, and the expanse of the Atlas Mountains. It’s the reason she goes back time and time again. The wild natural elements of this stunning country find their way into each collection.
Collaboration and teamwork is key for pulling together successful collections. Cristina works with a family-owned atelier in Marrakech who handcraft her designs.
They are 20 experts to turn to. I have an idea and then we collaborate on what’s possible. They advise on the function of each piece and how to make it a reality.
Cristina is also proud to work with a traditional saddlery in Graubünden, Switzerland. There is a focus on reuse and a sustainable approach to design at LABEL17. Reversible lambskin bags, handmade in the saddlery are versatile and made to treasure for years. While a masterpiece of craftsmanship, the New Yorker Clutch is woven by hand from one piece of vegetable tanned leather. One of my favourite pieces from the studio are the babouche shoes. This elegant design in braided leather or tactile lambskin will last for years not seasons.
There is no doubt that Covid-19 has impacted every business in the world and LABEL17 has faced its own set of unique obstacles. Cristina remains upbeat and is focusing on streamlining her next collection.
There is uncertainty with retailers and it’s hard to predict what will happen. Souks are still closed and it’s not possible to travel to Morocco so that adds its own challenges.
Conversation then moves to new fabrics and colour choices for the next collection and the air fills with excitement as ideas take flight. It’s a joyful and inspiring conversation. I have no doubt this enthusiasm and drive for utmost quality and provenance will serve LABEL17 so well in the months and years to come. It also brings home the importance of supporting small businesses, especially ones like LABEL17 who offer employment and nurture and protect the beauty of hand-craft.
I wish Cristina and David every success as they focus on the beauty of simplicity and timeless pieces made so beautifully by hand.
CH – 8008 Zurich
Phone: +41 79 322 69 91
*All images subject to copyright and property of LABEL17 GmbH.