Making their debut on The List – Australia’s Richest 250 this year in 2023, some 32 years and 53 boutiques – from Paddington to Paris – after starting out, the Zimmermann sisters have successfully sold a breezily elegant take on Australian style to the world. It is enough for their wealth to be estimated at $600m. Something no other Australian designer brand has even come close to.

Credit: ZIMMERMANN Youtube

As well as being a stand out at NY Fashion Week the Zimmermann sisters have also started showing in Paris. In a week dominated by the biggest names in European fashion – Dior, Chanel, Saint Laurent – with near limitless budgets and all the pomp and pageantry youd expect from brands owned by billionaires, an Australian fashion house showing its wares is a significant achievement.

Collette Dinnigan made her mark on the Paris runways in the mid-1990s. Kym Ellery followed in the 2010s. Zimmermann, founded by sisters Nicky and Simone in 1991, is following in those footsteps.

And unlike Dinnigan, who had one store in London, and Ellery, who had no stores outside of Australia, the Zimmermann brand has global heft. The business employs 900 people and is financially robust with revenue (as of its last results in 2020) of $220 million. Its clothes are worn by everyone from the Princess of Wales to Beyonce. It has stores in Paris, London and Shanghai, and in the past two years has expanded to Cannes, Rome and Naples.

As an Australian brand we dont have a natural home overseas,” says Nicky Zimmermann of the move to Paris Fashion Week from New York, where it showed for 14 years. We can do what we want. We can definitely do New York again, but its about what is right for the business at the time. Paris is the home of fashion; to show here is incredible.”

Zimmermanns turn towards Europe represents the wheels of the fashion business in motion.

Milan-based private equity fund Style Capital bought a 70 per cent stake in the company at the end of 2020 paying $408 million, according to Womens Wear Daily (a figure that Zimmermann declines to confirm).

Zimmermann is an Australian fashion brand that has gained widespread global recognition and success over the past two decades. Founded in 1991 by sisters Nicky and Simone Zimmermann, the brand has become known for its signature romantic and feminine aesthetic, which incorporates delicate fabrics, intricate detailing, and a touch of bohemian style. This story features the rise of Zimmermann as a fashion brand, including an analysis of some of its standout shows and collections, as well as insights from founder Nicky Zimmerman.

The Early Years

Nicky and Simone Zimmermann, family photo | Credit: The Australian

It was a family affair from the start.

Zimmermann, the brand, is synonymous with the beach, but its a little further south than one might assume. Simone and Nicole Zimmermann, born three years apart, hail from the Sutherland Shire; Sylvania Waters, to be exact. Their parents, Joan and Erich, owned a spray-painting and smash repairs shop. Joan sewed her own clothes, and Simone and Nickys, too. The beach was a constant; on weekends, they swam at Cronulla, spending their holidays at Surfers Paradise.

For Nicky, the goal was always fashion design.

There was nothing else I could do,” she jokes, sitting in her Sydney office. Simone probably could have done anything.” Now the labels chief operating officer, Simone started in computer marketing in the mid-80s, a role that was well suited to her methodical mind, but one that lacked excitement.

Zimmermann began as a small business. Nicky and Simone Zimmermann created and sold their designs at local Paddington markets in Sydney, Australia. Their initial focus was on swimwear, but they soon expanded into ready-to-wear clothing as well. The brand gained some early recognition in the fashion industry; with its designs featuring in Australian fashion magazines such as Vogue Australia and Harper’s Bazaar Australia.

In the early 2000s, Zimmermann began to gain international attention, with the brand showing at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York in 2005.

NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 05: A model walks the runway at the Zimmermann show | Credit: Dreamstime

The show received positive reviews, with critics praising the brand’s combination of bohemian and feminine styles. This show marks a turning point for Zimmermann, helping to establish the brand as a serious player in the international fashion industry.

Standout Collections

ZIMMERMANNs early success was rooted in Nicky and Simones innovative approach to creating flattering swimwear, incorporating elements of high fashion into sexy and sculptural one pieces and bikinis. While they originally gained notoriety for their sophisticated and fashionable Swim and Resort collections, the brand has blossomed since the 90s to now include ZIMMERMANN Swimwear, Separates, Kids, Footwear, and Accessories. ZIMMERMANN is famous for their delicate, original prints, high quality fabrics, feminine details, and classic designs with a modern spin.

Over the years, Zimmermann has produced many standout collections. These have helped to establish the brand’s unique aesthetic and signature style.

Backstage at Zimmermann F/W16 | Credit: Dream In Lace

One of the brand’s most memorable collections is its Fall/Winter 2016 collection, appearing at New York Fashion Week. The collection was inspired by the 1970s, with a focus on bohemian silhouettes, rich textures, and bold prints. The show features models walking down a runway lined with lush greenery and tropical plants; creating a sense of exoticism and wanderlust.

Another standout collection was Zimmermann’s Spring/Summer 2019 collection, drawing inspiration from the French Riviera. The collection featured a mix of feminine dresses, tailored separates, and beachy swimwear, all in a palette of pastels and bright colours. The show was held in a Parisian courtyard, with models walking down a runway lined with palm trees and bougainvillea. The collection was praised for its effortless elegance and vacation-ready vibe. 

In addition to these standout collections, Zimmermann has also gained attention for its collaborations with other brands and designers. In 2019, the brand partnered with Nike to create a limited-edition line of sneakers featuring Zimmermann’s signature prints. The collaboration was a hit, with the sneakers selling out within hours of their release.

Zimmermann 2022 Show, 31st January 2022

Zimmermans Spring Catwalk show for 2022 explored the many different sides of The Dancer. The collection is a pas de deux of binary concepts – strength and fragility, movement and structure, dark and lightness, self-discipline and creative intuition. 

Inspired by the empowering elegance of dance, what better way to showcase the collection than to collaborate with Harlequin, the performance floor of choice for the worlds most prestigious dance and performing arts companies!

Ballet is a central theme in this floral collection; inspiring bodysuits and chiffon skirts worn with wrap cashmere tops, and heels with ankle-tied ribbons.

Credit: Kendam

This season we explored the ideas of strength and fragility. We thought about dance – an appreciation of the power and athleticism, the graceful movement and fluidity of a dancer on the stage.”

Creative Director, Nicky Zimmermann


And the 2024 show, Matchmaker.

Global Expansion of Stores

Zimmerman is now one of the few truly Australian luxury fashion labels, ZIMMERMANN, is available in international retail locations such as Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Harrods, Selfridges and Saks 5th Ave, and with flagship stores in places like Capri Italy, New York, Paris, London, Sydney, Milan, Beverly Hills. ZIMMERMANNs newest location in New Jersey USA marked the brands twentieth store in the United States since the 2011 opening of their first US location in Beverly Hills. After launching stores across the US, UK, Europe, and continuing their international expansion with recent store openings in Spain and China, ZIMMERMANN is always adding devoted followers who love their breathtaking and innovative designs.   

Nicky Zimmerman on the Rise of the Brand

Nicky Zimmermann | Credit: National Library of Australia

In interviews, Nicky Zimmerman has spoken about the challenges and rewards of building a successful fashion brand. She has emphasised the importance of staying true to the brand’s vision and aesthetic, even as the brand has grown and expanded into new markets.

In a 2018 interview with Fashionista, Zimmerman spoke about the brand’s early days, saying,

“We started very small and grew organically, and I think that’s really important. We had a very clear vision of what we wanted to do, so we stayed true to that and didn’t get sidetracked.”

Zimmerman has also emphasised the importance of innovation and creativity in the fashion industry. In a 2020 interview with Vogue Australia, she said, “It’s important to keep pushing yourself and to keep innovating. I think that’s what keeps the brand fresh and exciting. We’re always looking for new ways to experiment with fabrics, prints, and silhouettes, and that’s what keeps us motivated.”

Zimmerman has also spoken about the challenges of expanding the brand into new markets, particularly the US market. In a 2019 interview with Business of Fashion, she said, “It’s been a bit of a learning curve for us, trying to navigate the US market. But I think we’ve learned a lot from our experiences, and we’re continuing to grow and evolve.”

Creative Inspirations

Creative force Nicky is proud to lean into her Australian-ness from and inspiration source. But unlike the kitsch way Jenny See or Ken Done once did, theirs is a nuanced approach to their national identity. Previous collections have been inspired by everything from Number 96 to Countdown. In 2017, Nicky created a range based on photographs of students at the University of Sydney in the 1920s. One collection featured the works of botanist and illustrator Ellis Rowan, a collaboration with the National Library of Australia.
Zimmermann + Ellis Rowan at the National Library | Credit: National Library of Australia
A 2019 collection imagined World War II hero Nancy Wake. Another was inspired by the sisters’ own childhood holidays in Surfers Paradise. In 2011, when Zimmermann opened its first US store in Los Angeles, video footage of Sydney played in the boutique, directed by Australian Lorin Askill.
For its last show on Australian soil, the brand staged a runway spectacle at the Classic Throttle Shop in North Sydney.
This season, Nicky drew inspiration from Australian artist Rupert Bunny, whose paintings she borrowed from the National Gallery of Victoria while designing. The collection featured many known signatures of the house – guipure lace, 3D florals, stiff denim – but introduced lurex, chocolate leather (in jumpsuit form) and bouclé.. The look was unrushed and relaxed. Australian, in the most elegant way. “We are Australian and we’ve never pretended to be anyone else,” says Nicky.
It’s silk shirts with “Tama” (as in Tamarama Beach) printed across the front, paired with Western-style boots and denim flares straight out of 1976. It’s trilby hats and tailored suiting and waterfalls of tiered ruffles. It’s rope belts and shell buttons. It’s bowerbird, it’s slightly chaotic, it’s ultra-feminine – and it’s very, very cool. Because that lace print is, actually, when you look up close, a pattern of globes, repeated across the skirt. And those applique flowers are hand-applied, one atop the other, like a bouquet might be assembled. And the ruching of the silk is cut to end just below the bust, accentuating the area while flattening, and flattering, others.


Zimmermann is a fashion brand that has undergone significant growth and success over the past two decades. Founded by sisters Nicky and Simone Zimmermann in Sydney, Australia, the brand has become known for its signature romantic and feminine aesthetic, which incorporates delicate fabrics, intricate detailing, and a touch of bohemian style.

Over the years, Zimmermann has produced many standout collections, including its Fall/Winter 2016 and Spring/Summer 2019 collections, which were praised for their unique aesthetic and vacation-ready vibe. Nicky Zimmerman has emphasised the importance of staying true to the brand’s vision and aesthetic, while also pushing the boundaries of innovation and creativity in the fashion industry. Despite the challenges of expanding into new markets, Zimmermann continues to grow and evolve, solidifying its position as a major player in the international fashion industry.

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