Ute Stauss

Zurichsee Connections-July-August 2018-Influential Woman.

Ute Stauss- Director Softlines – Disney Consumer Products & Retail at The Walt Disney Company.


1. Ute tell us about yourself in the world of fashion..

First, it was not my initial plan to work in the Fashion industry. My plan was to study English & French and work afterwards as an interpreter. However, I worked as a student at Burlington Socks (the famous sketched socks!) and then it has taken its course. Therefore, I have made my calling as a profession.

2. The story of Disney Fashion & other brands (e.g. Marvel & Lucas)

Fashion does not happen in a vacuum. It is constantly influenced by the outside world – and in fact is a reflection of the world we live in. What they are exposed to and how they digest and then interpret this input from history through to pop culture shape a Designers inspiration. For example, the world of cinema has often shaped the way people dress. Think about films like ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’, Hepburn’s famous “little black dress” is still influencing fashion designers today. Alternatively, take “Rebel without a Cause’. These movies defined different iconic styles for a generation of film goers.
As an entertainment leader Disney, Marvel and Lucas are lucky to have a number of films that have also shaped fashion trends. Think of the phenomenon that “Pirates of the Caribbean” created. Skulls and Crossbones were everywhere. When Disney’s and Tim Burton’s visionary ‘Alice in Wonderland’ came out, key department stores such as Selfridges in London, Printemps in Paris and cool US retail-chain Hot Topic eagerly transformed their stores with the Disney product.
Pop culture also plays a big part in shaping fashion. Many of our beloved characters like Mickey and Minnie Mouse have truly gained pop icon status. Important artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and more recently Damien Hirst have all paid homage to Disney. The characters of Mickey and Minnie have attained instant recognition and now belong to our shared cultural heritage. Only their colors or a hint of a silhouette suffices to convey the message – that makes for a true Pop Icon.
Another key source of fashion inspiration is Nostalgia. With a history dating back nearly a century, Disney has created some of people’s fondest childhood memories. The trick is to re-invent the characters to make them relevant to today’s consumer. Disney creative teams across the globe keep a watchful eye on trends and then they identify strategic creative opportunities for Disney. The fact that Disney is worn by some of the world’s biggest stars and loved by millions the world over is not an accident. It is the result of hard work by dedicated individuals who constantly seek new ways to leverage Disney’s heritage to dress the world of today.

3. In your opinion, when looking for a fashion label, is the orientation by brand or quality?

In my opinion, consumers go for both, but it depends also on the target group. If you look into the Millennials, they do not go for the image or trend of a brand only, they also look deeper into their company values such as sustainability, production source etc.
We, in Disney Fashion, have a very high labor standard / codex, which every partner of us has to fulfill.

4. Which clothing items are total best-sellers in Disney?

Within Disney, the apparel category is the bestselling range and in that, again it is the T-Shirt across all consumer segments.

5. In a world of e-commerce, what is your vision for the next 10 years?

The world of e-commerce is by far the fastest growing retail-channel. However, I do not see that brick and mortar will disappear completely. It will be a mix of both. Moreover, if you look to some very trendy and hip e-commerce retailers such as Caspar mattress or Mr Spex – both go ‘offline’ and open physical stores. What I see as well is that the consumer wants to have more and more customized products, easy to buy (I call it ‘snack-able’) but at the same time, it has to be individual.

6. A place in Europe where you find paradise..

I have many places in Europe where I found freedom and silence to relax and get inspired and if this place offers it to me, it is my paradise. However, here are my favorite places where I found exactly my personal paradise – some more time for sports & relaxation:
– Salzburg Land in Austria
– Südtirol / Alto Adige
– Mallorca
– Zurich
– Vienna (when I need a new dose of Art)
– London (when I need new inspiration for trends, art, fashion and retail formats)

7. Your favorite place in Switzerland ?

I have three in total: it is Basel (where I spend my childhood), Zurich and Lugano.

8. What websites and magazines inspire you?

My favorite magazines are Harper’s Bazaar & Elle. However, I am also following many influencers across all age group on Instagram. In addition, I am a fan of Zurichsee Connections.

9. And your favorite travel destination?

Spain, England and as a city, Copenhagen.

10. What magazines and websites inspire you?

I like to read magazines like Dummy, Sleek, I-D, Neo-2 or Tendencias and I often visit Websites like Pinterest, Archilovers, Nachtkritik, Warholian…

11. And finally Ute, what item identifies you..

Definitely a dress! I love dresses and have of course more than one in my cupboard. My favorite dress is the wrap dress from Diane von Furstenberg and I have more than one piece from her too…



 Photo credit: Ute Stauss

Ute Stauss