HOW EVERYTHING STARTED
Ida Pauline Bäurlin is born on 7 July in Aarau, Switzerland. Following her father's early death, she and her seven siblings are raised by their mother alone. After school, Pauline sets her heart on becoming a teacher and takes a job that involves relocating to Aarburg, which is where she meets widower Johann Jakob Zimmerli. They are married in 1859 and Pauline takes on responsibility for six stepchildren in addition to their own son Oscar.
How an invention changes everything
In America, Isaac William Lamb invents the first hand-operated, single needle knitting machine, which was to have a decisive impact on the destiny of the Zimmerli family in the Swiss town of Aarburg. In 1867, Lamb is awarded the gold medal for his invention at the World's Fair in Paris and this lays the technical foundation for the development of the Zimmerli company.
The first production
The red dye works belonging to Johann Jakob Zimmerli go into bankruptcy. While searching for alternative sources of revenue, he comes across a newspaper article about Lamb's new knitting machine. His wife, Pauline, is dispatched to Basel where one of Lamb's representatives soon teaches her how to use the machine to knit the finest stockings and men's socks. She also proves to have an entrepreneurial talent and soon her products are selling far beyond the local area.
Zimmerli grows into a company
Success comes swiftly, and new employees are recruited. Pauline shows great creativity in searching for novel product opportunities and she invents a new knitting machine. She sends her ideas and designs to the USA to be implemented and, in the very same year, she receives the first double needle knitting machine in return. For Pauline Zimmerli, this is the impetus for manufacturing ribbed fabrics and underwear in Switzerland. In doing so, she launches an entirely new industrial sector."
From Aarburg to Paris
Thanks to Pauline's dedication and with the help of her sons, Adolf and Oscar, the company continues to grow. Their first international appearance takes place in Paris, where they find a sales representative. In 1878, the renowned department store ""Le Bon Marché"" begins selling the premium knitwear from Aarburg and, from 1880 onwards, the order books fill up following Oscar's repeated trips across the USA and elsewhere in the world.
First, own factory building
Oscar Zimmerli acquires his stepbrother Adolf's shares in the business and establishes a public limited company with initial capital of 1 million Swiss francs. His aim is to lay the foundation for future company growth. By the following year, he is already able to open the new factory in Aarburg.
Award for Zimmerli embroidery products
After winning the gold medal at the World's Fair in 1889, the Zimmerli brand's fine knitwear is once again recognised with the Grand Prix and another gold medal.
The success story continues and product facilities in Aarburg are expanded considerably as a consequence. At this year's World's Fair in Brussels, Zimmerli celebrates its third gold medal.
The challenging economic period caused by the First World War is quickly overcome. The new company management, which takes over corporate responsibility from now on, picks up the original concept for the family business and continues producing "the world's finest underwear".
The world’s finest underwear
In the meantime, production facilities in France are established. Now Zimmerli also takes over a production company in Tessin, where specialist sewing experts, based in Coldrerio, produce the finest quality men's and women's underwear.
Zimmerli of Switzerland
Following restructuring, the Zimmerli Coldrerio SA production facility is taken over by cousins Walter and Hans Borner, followed by Zimmerli Textil AG in 1997. The new strategy focuses on the exclusivity and tradition offered by Zimmerli of Switzerland: luxurious underwear made with the very finest natural fibres and using meticulous manufacturing techniques.
With the newly developed Donna collection, Zimmerli resumes lingerie production for the first time in decades. This is an immediate international success and becomes an important component of the product portfolio.
The number one
The Zimmerli label is carefully expanded and its reputation is restored to its former powerful position as the global leader in the men's underwear sector. The brand is nominated for the prestigious Brand Excellence Swiss Trophy thanks to its long-standing contribution to business.
The first flagship stores open in the Rue St. Honoré in Paris and as a shop-in-shop at KadeWe Berlin. This enables Zimmerli to expand its international high-end locations, strengthening its brand profile through a premium presence. The well-known interior designer Iria Degen develops a new retail space concept, providing the perfect setting for the exclusive, timeless daywear collection in single-brand boutiques and shop-in-shop outlets.
A record year with the highest turnover in company history. Based on its highly traditional brand identity and in recognition of its values, Zimmerli is creating a new and innovative brand image with a vision of the future that is focused on growth.
With its new mono-brand outlets, Zimmerli of Switzerland can now be found as a shop-in-shop concept at Jelmoli Zurich, Boutique Moscow and Boutique Taipei.
Zimmerli continues to enhance its international presence with additional branches at the most prestigious locations in the world. Following inauguration of the second Moscow boutique, the Interlaken boutique represents a key Swiss location with an international reputation for tourism. Almost at the same time, new boutiques open their doors in Salzburg and Macau, with the latter being a major economic focal point for the Chinese population.
Sunny side up
Traditional Swiss luxury brand, Zimmerli of Switzerland, and new star Julian Zigerli present a jointly developed capsule collection entitled ""Sunny side up"". The presentation includes daywear and loungewear items with fresh prints, innovative designs and the very highest quality in terms of finishing and materials, thus reflecting the values of both brands.
Hand in Hand
In China, the subsidiary Zimmerli Shanghai Trading Co. Ltd. is established with two employees of its own. The first boutique opens soon after this at Plaza 66 in Shanghai and the same year also sees new boutiques in Mendrisio, Berlin and a shop-in-shop at Harrods in London.
Thanks to the MADE IN GREEN certification, wearers of Zimmerli textiles can take confidence in knowing all products are free of harmful substances and are safe for the health of individuals and the planet. The label verifies that Zimmerli items have been produced in an environmentally friendly manner and at socially responsible workplaces, including the production facilities.
With a modern outlook on the shopping experience, Zimmerli digitalises the lookbook for customers and merges production and logistics in Ticino, Switzerland. A new website and online shop facilitate the shopping experiences globally with worldwide delivery. Social media activities, including an ambassador program, position Zimmerli as a premium brand for Generation Z.
150 year Zimmerli of Switzerland
Zimmerli celebrates its 150th birthday in 2021. Guided by the intimate closeness to people and nature that has been part of Zimmerli's DNA since its founding, Zimmerli looks back on a long tradition full of entrepreneurial spirit and innovation. To celebrate this special year in a fitting manner, each month of the year focuses on a different formative relationship with people and the environment. Let us surprise you and, with a little luck, win one of our anniversary gifts during the year.
We look forward to the future
The Zimmerli brand defines its unmistakable identity in the luxury market. Evocative imagery links international exclusivity and excellence with a luxurious Swiss image.