Austrian Fashion Designer
Vera is an Austrian fashion designer and the founder and creative director of the womenswear brand, BEYOND by Vera. Born in Austria (in Frohnleiten in the Austrian mountains!), Vera is a true global citizen. Her love of cultures and languages prompted her to pursue her education across various European countries for her Masters degree.
Upon graduating, Vera relocated to India for the role in their diplomatic office representing Austria in India. After spending years living throughout the world, she decided to launch her own travel-inspired womenswear collection in 2018 which has been renamed BEYOND by Vera.
Vera works with her own design atelier to hand-draw the prints before they are hand-screen printed, meaning no two pieces are ever the same. Her new “Meadows” collection for the fall is inspired by Vera’s childhood growing up in the picturesque Austrian countryside. Her hand-drawn print artworks showcase elements of nature and pay homage to the craftsmanship and ornamental patterns of traditional Austrian “Tracht” costumes.
When did you know you wanted to be a fashion designer?
I am a late bloomer – I only stumbled upon the path of fashion design about five years ago. After I graduated from Uppsala University in Sweden, I started my career at the Commercial Section of the Austrian Embassy (AussenwirtschaftsCenter) in New Delhi – that was about 15 years ago and I never looked back. I have always been an adventurer at heart and was therefore very excited about this opportunity. I dove into India’s fascinating culture and learned so much about its history and people. I used any chance I could get to travel the country, to learn and discover. In Udaipur, a city that is beyond beautiful (they filmed James Bond Octopussy with Roger Moore over there), I visited a small hand-printing workshop and observed how the artisans washed, dyed, and printed hundreds of meters of fabric – all by hand and with such incredible precision and skill.
That is when I knew that I wanted to work with artisans like them and create.
I first started designing dresses for myself and later for friends and family. The response was so positively overwhelming and gave me so much joy. I wanted to create my own fabrics and prints and tell stories about my wonderful adventures through my designs – so I eventually left my diplomatic career and went on a creative journey of learning and experimenting with various print and textile techniques. I worked closely together with fabric printing workshops to bring my hand-drawn artworks to life.
In 2018 I was finally ready and launched my very first ready-to-wear collection in New York.
What’s it like being in the fashion industry?
Being in the fashion industry is not only about creativity and design, it is also a lot about understanding your customer and who you are as a brand and building a strategy around that. My favorite part of it is the creative journey from the initial spark of an idea to seeing my designs come to life during the campaign shoots and when worn by my customers across the globe. It feels so rewarding. But I also enjoy the business aspect of it, being an entrepreneur, coming up with new ideas on how to scale and innovate. Working as a designer and business owner is incredible hard work and filled with both challenges and exhilarating moments of achievement and I wouldn’t want to have it any other way.
How is the fashion industry different between Austria and the US?
The Austrian fashion scene has a certain charm, with a strong connection to history and cultural heritage. The US fashion scene on the other hand is incredibly diverse and dynamic. I have noticed that Americans have a real enthusiasm for self-expression through fashion – which I absolutely love. Navigating both the European and US markets is an amazing journey. Both have their own unique charm, and I absolutely love being able to bring a touch of Austrian heritage to the US fashion industry.
What was your first job in the fashion industry?
I never worked in fashion before – my studies in Sweden, Italy, France and the UK focused on foreign market entry and international marketing and my first job was a posting at the Commercial Section of the Austrian Embassy (AussenwirtschaftsCenter) in New Delhi. As the Senior Advisor to the Commercial Counselor, I provided business development services for Austrian companies within India. I spent the next decade further strengthening my entrepreneurial skillset as I became exposed to the intricacies of effective international business while enjoying the natural beauty of India’s architecture and landscapes.
Talk about the changes in your life since you‘ve your own clothing collection?
Launching my own clothing line has changed both my professional and personal life. I definitely have never worked as hard in my life before – there are no weekends or time off – but it does not feel like a burden. And I have to say, it is incredibly exciting to be able to travel the world to meet clients and showcase the collection.
My role as founder and creative director requires not only artistic vision but also a great understanding of market trends and consumer preferences. I’ve learned to navigate the intricacies of production, supply chains, and marketing strategies and this has truly widened my skill set and given me a holistic view of the fashion industry. Being an entrepreneur teaches you something on a daily basis – it keeps it all an exciting challenge.
On a personal level, the experience has been both exhilarating and demanding. It has pushed me to strike a delicate balance between creative expression and pragmatic decision-making. It also pushed me to be vulnerable as the brand is ultimately an extension of me and my values.
How do you choose your inspiration?
Ancient architecture, beautiful buildings, natural wonders, vintage fashion photography and craft traditions inspire me endlessly.
Each collection starts with a theme – a destination or a journey that inspires me. I then build a mood board using my photos, sketches, and research, diving into everything from history, architecture, legends, to crafts and nature. This helps me translate my vision into hand-drawn print ideas.
In one word how would you define yourself as a designer?
What advice would you pass along to those starting in the Fashion Business?
My advice is to remain true to your unique voice and vision. In an industry that thrives on creativity and innovation, authenticity is your strongest asset. Don’t be afraid to experiment, take risks, and challenge conventions. However, remember that success is also rooted in discipline and hard work. Understand who you are as a brand and build a great team. Surround yourself with a supportive network of mentors, collaborators, and fellow creatives who can provide guidance and inspiration. Lastly, always keep an open mind and enjoy what you are doing.
Tell us about your last collection
Our AW23 collection “Meadows” is a heartfelt journey back to my roots growing up in the Austrian countryside. With this collection I wanted to pay homage to Austria’s natural beauty, traditions and craftsmanship. Each of the print designs reflect a childhood memory. For example, our floral print “Tracht” references the ornamental beauty of Austrian Tracht. It takes me back to the many occasions where my family and I wore our traditional Tracht outfits.
To know more about Vera, please visit: Vera Fritsch