Homesickness on the skin

Sina Thomaseth has turned her necessity to her advantage – and has made her home wearable. Her fashion is based on traditional Austrian costume

Photo:Gustav Willeit, Model Christiane Gamper

To be without a home is to suffer. The words of the Russian writer Dostoyevsky. And Sina Thomaseth really did suffer in Berlin. „After my apprenticeship, I wanted to study at a great university, I was sure about that,“ the graduate of the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK) recalls. However, Sina Thomaseth was not really happy in Berlin. She never really arrived here, she says. Her longing for her home was too great – and it still is. For the mountains of Austria. More specifically for the mountains of Tyrol. In Telfs, near Innsbruck, Sina Thomaseth lived for four years, completed her dressmaking apprenticeship there, had her boyfriend there – everything was perfect. However, her apprenticeship came to an end, her boyfriend was gone, and the designer was drawn to studying in the big city, to Berlin. However, her great longing for the mountains remained.

What could she do to alleviate her homesickness? Sina Thomaseth turned her necessity to her advantage. She made dresses in the style of traditional Austrian costume. For example, her skirts with their simple elastic strap are based on the heavy underskirts of the dirndl. „I wanted to make the feeling of home wearable,“ the 32-year-old remembers. Her skirts and tops are now in demand, and the designer is very busy. She has just completed her new collection.

Sina Thomaseth is sitting in a small office in Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Strasse. On the floor is a black case, the lid open, with the dresses from the last trip still inside. The designer apologises, she returned only a couple of hours ago. It’s like with the prophet and the mountain. If one won’t come to the other, then it’ll have to be the other way around. This is how it is for Sina Thomaseth. She takes her fashion from one luxury hotel to another. Her travel schedule includes addresses in Switzerland, Austria, South Tyrol, Bavaria and Brandenburg. The designer now presents her fashion in around 20 hotels. For example, at fashion teas, as they are known. Both hotel and designer benefit from this co-operation. The 32-year-old has been at some hotels eight times already. The reception is always positive, and her order book full. „But there’s no fashion show with models and the like in the hotels,“ Sina Thomaseth clarifies. The dresses are simply hung up or laid out.

It all began with a few devoted regular customers. They invited the designer at the start of her career. Then, over coffee and cake, the latest garments were appraised. „However, this was always a huge amount of work for the customers,“ Sina Thomaseth remembers. On a holiday with friends in South Tyrol, she realised how she could take this idea and make a profession out of it. „I simply enquired in our hotel whether they had any interest,“ says the designer. And they were. A new business idea was born.

The native of Nuremberg has been self-employed since 2011 – and has fulfilled one of her childhood dreams. However, the beginning was difficult. „I was all on my own,“ says Sina Thomaseth, looking back, „but I had made my decision: I’m going to do this.“ So she leaped into the cold water, without seed capital, her eyes in one direction only: forwards. At the UdK, you learn how to design a piece of clothing. However, they don’t teach you how to set up a company. Sina Thomaseth now has her office in the Charlottenburg Innovation Centre (CHIC). She feels quite at home here. The conditions are good. In particular, she enjoys the obliging atmosphere in the building and in the entire area. The material wholesaler and the accessories shop are nearby, and her old university is just around the corner. „The proximity to the UdK was very important to me, especially in the beginning,“ the designer recalls. She was able to use the studios there and get advice from her old professors. However, Sina Thomaseth is no longer so much in need of the latter. And her homesickness is not so bad anymore.

Stefanie Paul
Kluge Köpfe 2013