Despite being a long-standing customer, I got a fascinating insight into how much I didn’t know about Swarovski crystal when I heard Nadja Swarovski, Executive Board member for almost 30 years and great-great-granddaughter of founder Daniel Swarovski, in conversation with Tim Blanks at The V&A recently.
Nadja’s talk encompassed some expected topics, such as Swarovski’s collaborations with fashion houses like Dior and iconic films such as The Wizard of Oz and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but what really grabbed my attention was hearing about the company as a family business and how Nadja has responded to the challenges of honouring the traditions of the past whilst driving the brand forward. Here are my top three takeaways:
1. Foundations: a lasting company ethos
Even before Daniel courted the very first Parisian couturiers soon after founding the company in 1895, he had a very clear vision for the Swarovski brand – “a diamond for everyone”. Believing that wealth shouldn’t be a barrier, he wanted every woman to know the feeling of wearing a diamond, making affordable luxury a key principle for the brand from its infancy.
2. Growth: innovation that stays true to the brand
Doing her part to further this pledge, Nadja introduced the Atelier Swarovski range in 2007, creating the brand’s answer to the dilemma of high street versus catwalk. Offering products created by established designers, celebrities and trend setters, the range allows customers to purchase a little piece of something that would otherwise be unattainable for many budgets.
3. Vision: preparing for the future
Behind the scenes the brand’s environmental conscience has been thriving for years through endeavours such as the Swarovski Waterschool. But arguably the biggest shift the business is making is in trailblazing affordable luxury. Its Atelier Swarovski by Penélope Cruz collection was created with a desire to create ethical alternatives that are barely distinguishable from the real thing in a fraction of the time and at a more accessible price.
Nadja’s legacy may be successfully marrying affordable luxury and conscious luxury, but who knows what success Swarovski will be celebrating in another 100 years. The businesswoman openly laments that this rich history, which she is fiercely proud of, remains a secret to the majority of consumers – as it was to me. Maybe Perq Studio could help tell that story one day…