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#THESEYOUNGPEOPLE. Why the Youth’s Skills Are so Important. PEOPLE’S BUSINESS. Without People, We’re Nothing. LET’S NOT KID OURSELVES. We Work in a Great Industry!

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The Fulfilled Life Welcome to these lines. When we ask Franco Loro Piana, our The Longview interviewee (from page 026), how he defines luxury, he first mentions “a good life balance that allows time for oneself ”. This makes him a typical figurehead of his generation, a millennial par excellence. But before you even consider lamenting the allegedly spoiled youth, you should read the second part of his answer: “…as well as maximum efficiency at work.” The new generation oscillates between precisely these two poles. These young people are not merely customers of our fashion trade, but also its employees. Anyone who is keen to avoid winding up like those elderly gentlemen who are currently bankrupting their outdated businesses, should really consider familiarising themselves with the ideals of this new generation. When you think about it, you’ll soon realise that young people are simply implementing what we have been dreaming of for a very long time. At the end of the day, a manager suffering from burnout probably should have prioritised the so-called “life balance”. An authoritarian boss may have avoided the insolvency court if he hadn’t repeatedly dismissed the youth’s ideas in a thundering rage. “Is the fashion industry also facing a shortage of skilled talent at management level?” The question Stephan Huber asks his interlocutors Jürgen Müller and Alexander Gedat (“We Need a New Learning Culture”, page 092) is justified, especially in these times of unprecedented change. “Digitisation is a challenge in a league of its own,” Jürgen Müller states. It’s only logical that the demands placed on both personnel and managers are changing too. In many cases one cannot shrug off the impression that the industry is still the proverbial deer in the headlights. We have never had the door slammed in our faces as often as during the research for our special topic titled “People”. We merely wanted to see the wounds, not rub salt into them. It was always clear to us that you don’t need us to tell you how to dress the wound. That’s why this edition has allowed so much space for statements by your colleagues. You can look forward to a wealth of proven ideas and industry-related advice from those you know and appreciate. Enjoy your read! Your style in progress team

Cover photo: Alfonso Catalano, Courtesy Gentleman/Class Editori


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002 EDITORIAL The Fulfilled Life


050 An Internal Marketing Department for Employees Why Floris van Bommel believes it’s not enough to merely seduce customers. 051 Good People Know Good People The fashion search engine Lyst programmes sneaker freak games to facilitate recruitment.

026 “We Listen Carefully” Giacomo and Franco Loro Piana are brave enough to earn their own entrepreneurial spurs.

052 Let’s Just Tackle the Problem Andreas Weitkamp believes in tackling the trainee topic head-on.


053 People in Focus Bründl perceives employees as its most valuable assets – Elisabeth Rendl explains why.

034 PEOPLE 036 Open or Closed? Unattractive working hours? Kay Alexander Plonka believes change is possible. 038 A Rarity in Retail: Trainees Is being a retail salesperson a dream job? Our salon dialogue provides answers.

046 INSPIRING PEOPLE 047 Hasta La Vista Hamster Wheel This is how one addresses young people successfully.



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054 The First Impression Counts Recruitment is a global issue – we have compiled a list of international success stories. 067 Seek and You Shall Find Lamberto Losani goes to great lengths to prevent a shortage of skilled workers. 068 The Hunt is On! Skilled workers are in demand: we highlight the best hunting grounds and techniques. 070 Work Facilitates Integration Rita in Palma, Vaude, and Phil Petter give foreign workers respect and dignity.



074 DEVELOPING PEOPLE 075 In the Thick of Things More freedom for employees: these retailers know how to provide it. 081 Sharing Knowledge This is how lifelong learning works in practice. 082 Hunting for Customers How do longer opening hours affect employees?

084 LEADING PEOPLE 085 Leading by Example Who coaches the coaches? They coach themselves! Managers expand on their style.


102 Fashion Now Marvel at the latest trend snapshots.


113 The Neighbourhood Store My Fitch/Düsseldorf 114 Vive La Fair Centre Commercial/Paris 116 Chamber of Marvels The Corner/Berlin

087 No Team, No Party The next step. How a start-up transforms into a company.

117 Freedom Gained Conceptblue/Hallein

088 Leading the Way Success requires leadership. Which leads does one follow?

118 In Close Contact with Customers Soho/Trier

092 “We Need a New Learning Culture” Recruitment specialist Jürgen Müller and serial advisory board member Alexander Gedat talk shop.


096 The Broad Horizon of the “Gebirgsstätter” Markus Meindl knows that he has to live by his brand’s values. 006


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New York, London, Paris, Munich Everybody Talk About... Personalisation!






New Structure

According to André Berger, the Managing Director of Handstich, the world doesn’t need a traditional summer jacket collection. “Instead, we have developed two capsules that focus on what is essential: hybrids, material mix, colour, and a certain modern playfulness.” Thomas and Anette Wartner of Stulz - Mode: Genuss: Leben, who will present the menswear and womenswear in their own pop-up area in their store from the 20th of September, have been Handstich customers from the very beginning. “We want to emotionalise the brand with very targeted and well-dosed POS campaigns,” says Berger, whose brand is planning a further pop-up area at Hirmer. The label, represented in Germany by Ben And, relies heavily on customer proximity and partnerships. The latest coup is a Handstich collection developed jointly with Managermagazin. It is to be sold via various distribution channels, as well as advertised online and in the magazine itself. www.handstich.de

Italian premium sportswear brand RRD has launched a new range of trousers. It focuses on super-soft and lightweight Lycra models in sartorial cuts. The label has also modified its sales agency structure for Europe. As it stands, northern Germany is served by Agentur Torsten Lampert in Hamburg, central Germany by M.H.W. Collectionen in Düsseldorf, and southern Germany by Fashion Agency Kasberger & Grahm in Munich. In Switzerland, the men’s collection is represented by Modeagentur Lüthi & Mifsud Uomo 1991 in Glattbrugg, while the women’s collection is represented by Fashion Code Modeagentur Lüthi in Oepfikon-Glattpark. S.A.R.L. Wearhouse of Paris is the representative in Belgium and Luxembourg as of spring/summer 2020. Worldwide Fashion Agency in Amstelveen retains its mandate for Holland. Room With A View of Salzburg remains responsible for the Austrian market. In the DACH and Benelux regions, Grimmer & Sommacal Diffusion of Graefelfing represents RRD’s children’s collection. www.robertoriccidesigns.com

Handstich shows character with hybrids and material mixes.

A shoe made of wool: Giesswein, the slipper experts, surprise the market with merino sneakers.


Merino Sneakers

RRD’s new range of trousers focuses on utmost mobility and constant momentum.


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Giesswein has the Alpine answer to the sock shoe. Markus and Johannes Giesswein have made it their mission to process wool in a way that ensures its advantages are optimised. The company manufactures in its own facility in Tyrol in line with high ethical and ecological standards. The Giesswein brothers pay particular attention to resource-sparing methods, including a no-waste policy, the use of up to 90% purified wastewater, and the exclusive use of renewable raw materials. The unisex wool sneakers are extremely light, prevent odours, regulate the temperature within the shoe, and can be worn without socks. The interchangeable merino foot-bed is based on vegetable oil. The retail price is 129 Euros. www.giesswein.com


Majestic Filatures

T-Shirts On Demand

The men’s collection by Majestic Filatures celebrates its premiere.

The range of NOS items in the fields of t-shirts and tops for women and men is a particular strength of French label Majestic Filatures. Said range has been complemented once again by new bestsellers this summer. Orders are delivered free of charge from a warehouse in France. Agentur Klausner is the label’s representative in Germany and Austria. The average retail price for cotton/cashmere blends stands at 79 Euros. Prices for linen/silk blends range from 75 to 99 Euros, while viscose/elastane blends start at 49 Euros. The mark-up lies between 2.8 and 3.0. In addition to the Cruise Collection for women, the label has decided to offer a debut men’s collection from May to July, with delivery dates between December and January. Customers include Frauenschuh in Kitzbühel, Vogue in Graz, Daniels in Munich and Cologne, Different in Hamburg and Sylt, Greta & Luis in Berlin, Burresi in Wiesbaden and Frankfurt, and Stylebop. www.majesticfilatures.com

Michael Stars offers high-quality basics, with the shirt at the centre.

Original Vintage Style

Insider Tip Status

Original Vintage Style, a collection of washed favourite items for men, is a recent addition to Hinterhofagentur’s portfolio. “The brain behind the special range is designer Enrico Giarré of Prato. The latter has been on the Italian and German markets for several years, but has never really lost its status as an insider tip,” says Dominik Meuer, the Managing Director of Hinterhofagentur. The label’s menswear focuses on character rather than eye-catching branding. The total look is casual, Italian, and understated, featuring high-quality materials and finishes. “Some men remain unmoved by the collection, while others experience a release of emotion,” Meuer explains. Retailers include Classico, Brooks, and Daniels. Purchase prices for jackets and coats range from 150 to 200 Euros. Trousers cost 50 to 60 Euros, knitwear between 50 and 150 Euros. www.diehinterhofagentur.de

Michael Stars

Everybody Loves Shirts!

Original Vintage Style exudes casual, natural understatement.

A regular t-shirt? Michael Stars offers them in top quality, says Claudia Flessa. Her agency has been distributing the label’s shirts and jerseys in the German-speaking market since January. “After a change in design, the product is on point. The items still look great even after repeated laundering, without the seams twisting,” says Flessa. “Purchase prices ranging from 28 to 32 Euros are excellent value for money.” Many shirts and jerseys are now available in sizes XS to L, instead of merely One Size. The womenswear from LA is complemented with casual pieces such as jumpsuits, blazers, shorts, and jogging pants. www.michaelstars.com

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Superga x Alexa Chung

Hello Again

Superga and Alexa Chung are back together. The brand ambassador of many years has designed a sneaker collection for the Italian label and agreed to present it in front of cameras. “The best thing about working with Superga is that it affords us an opportunity to develop and shape stories,” Alexa Chung enthuses. “As always, it was an incredibly inspiring and educational journey,” the British model and designer says about the project. The backdrop for the shooting was Porcida, an island not far off the Neapolitan coast. The capsule collection is at least as colourful as the idyllic island itself: emerald green, mustard yellow, and white complement the classic Superga style. Satin upper material picks up Alexa Chung’s playful note and combines perfectly with Superga’s well-known vulcanised rubber soles.

Fashionable and luxurious at a fair price: cashmere sweaters by Absolut Cashmere.

Absolut Cashmere

Pure and Colourful The name says it all: Absolut Cashmere is committed to 100% cashmere for a feminine collection with Parisian esprit, with diverse styles in an impressive range of 28 colours. Core retail prices range from 179 to 299 Euros, with a mark-up of 2.7. “This price range is becoming increasingly important for cashmere items,” says René Michaelis, who distributes the label of Paris-based MCC Group together with Daniela Michaelis in South Germany, via their eponymous fashion agency. “Another bonus is the special finishing process that protects against annoying peeling.” The capsule collection combines the casual elegance of Alexa Chung with the Italian joie-de-vivre of Superga.

Goldgarn Denim

Sales Floor Hero

Getting physical: Goldgarn Denim uses its pop-up stores to increase brand awareness and for image enhancement, as well as for learning purposes.


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A young brand’s first sales floor is a challenge that shouldn’t be underestimated. In the case of Goldgarn Denim, the situation is slightly different. The pop-up store in Mannheim’s Quartier Q6 Q7 is the third time the successful brand shows physical presence. “Direct customer contact, direct feedback, and the reaction to the entire collection – one can learn so much from your own store,” says Elena Engel, the Marketing Manager of Goldgarn Denim. “We’ve drawn our own conclusions from every pop-up project and have optimised the collection accordingly.” Goldgarn Denim not only stands for high-quality premium jeans with great attention to detail, but also embodies the City of Mannheim. The core retail price of the label’s jeans ranges from 99 to 139 Euros. Thanks to its professional sales network and its trade fair presence, the young brand has managed to win over renowned retailers in Germany and Austria. Goldgarn Denim is one of the flagships of Textilerei, a project sponsored by Startup Mannheim. It acts as an accelerator for young fashion and textile brands based in the city. www.goldgarndenim.de



3 questions

North Sails

Art vs Plastic Waste


Matthias Mey Managing Partner of Mey Group

You will open a multi-brand concept together with other brands in the former department store “Uhlig am Dom” in Mainz in June. Thus, you - as a manufacturer - take on the role of retailers. Was this a strategic decision? “Uhlig am Dom” is a perfect example of an established, traditional business. For private reasons, the decision was made to give up the company. This presented us with an opportunity to continue the business after a short reconstruction phase, and thus to enter the multi-label segment. In principle, there are locations that function as pure Mey locations for us. We can present the entire brand world there. Due to their size, other locations are suitable for multi-brand concepts in cooperation with strong partners. However, we will only cooperate with a few partners in the case of “Uhlig am Dom”. As one of the leading bodywear and lifestyle brands, we are now able to cover all other relevant product segments ourselves - both comprehensively and competently. What is the greatest advantage for you regarding such a self-curated multi-label concept compared to a Mey flagship store? We think from the customer’s point of view and can offer a broader range with a multi-label concept. To this end, we cooperate with strong partners from the respective segments. Could you envisage relying more on retail partnerships with brands like Falke in the future? Yes, of course. That’s conceivable in principle. www.mey.com

North Sails intends to set up a 60sqm pop-up store to promote the “Free the Sea” campaign and the “Go Beyond Plastic” initiative in the Munich gallery of photographer, artist, and digital entrepreneur Simon Lohmeyer from the 15th of May to 15th of June. The programme includes an environmental talk with Italian marine biologist Mariasole Bianco of the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) and Simon Lohmeyer, an exhibition by National Geographic photographer York Hovest, and a 3D virtual reality experience “Diving with Sharks”. The small capsule collection on sale focuses on North Sails’ commitment to sustainability, as well as the brand’s long track record of protecting oceans in cooperation with the Ocean Family Foundation. The store, located in “Corneliusstrasse” near “Gärtnerplatz”, is open Wednesday to Saturday from noon to 7pm. www.northsails.com

Photographer Simon Lohmeyer has teamed up with North Sails to create a pop-up store in Munich dedicated to the subject of marine conservation.

Enthusiasm and motivation: Andreas Weitkamp and his team promote more exciting training methods.

Modehaus Schnitzler

Social Skills

Mey is more than capable of transferring its competence to the sales floor. The company is now launching its first multi-brand concept in the premises of the former department store “Uhlig am Dom”


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“It’s Bigger than Fashion” is the name that Andreas Weitkamp chose for his special internship project at Modehaus Schnitzler. It is aimed at broadening the trainees’ horizons. Each year of their apprenticeship, trainees are afforded the opportunity to complete a two-week internship at a partner, be it in city tourism, at the all-weather zoo, or in Drykorn’s showroom. “Schnitzler prepares us for our profession and beyond,” says Johanna Schüttler. She and Albina Baftijari are the first apprentices to join the project in their third year. “At the same time, we never feel left alone, because we are taken care of brilliantly at every internal and external station. It’s a great mixture!” www.modehaus-schnitzler.de

PROUDLY PEOPLE Circolo 1901 supports real people.



Thomas Rath Trousers

On Own Initiative

Thomas Rath has many fans, even among fashion retailers. The fact that he continues his collection is expressly welcomed.

Optimal fit and top value for money - Thomas Rath’s trousers enjoy an excellent reputation among retailers. Until 2018 the collection by the well-known designer was made available in cooperation with Gardeur. “I am very proud to continue the brand on my own,” says Thomas Rath. “The collection was previously ordered by approx. 200 retailers. Over the last few months, my husband Sandro Rath and our sales team visited 70 retailers in person. The feedback was great, there’s a real demand!” Typical features of the trousers include menswear finishing details such as designed linings. Trouser classics are complemented by denim, as well as by supplementary knitwear, feminine blouses, and coats. Thomas Rath always expresses his extraordinary love for details. With a mark-up of 2.7, purchase prices for trousers range from 49 to 59 Euros. www.thomas-rath.com


Compass Which trends dominate autumn/winter 2020/21? What preoccupies the industry? The DMI Fashion Day on the 18th of July at Düsseldorf’s Rheinterrassen attempts to provide answers and inspiration for future collections. The list of speakers includes materials specialist Winfried Rollmann, fashion expert Thomas Hill, and trend analyst Carl Tillessen. In addition to trade and market analyses, prominent guest lecturers discuss respective Fashion Day topics. www.deutschesmodeinstitut.de


questions for:

Creative Director Silvia Mazzoli has combined the best of Ottod’Ame womenswear in a resort collection.

Silvia Mazzoli

Creative Director at Ottod’Ame

Guest speakers and experts, such as Niels Holger Wien, provide inspiration for coming seasons at the DMI Fashion Day.


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What’s new? We strive to offer retailers something unique that inspires their customers. Our resort collection called Trésor Ottod’Ame, which we will be offering from May via our sales partners and will arrive in stores in November, fulfils this aim. It includes many dresses for special occasions, casual fancy suits, and new interpretations of tuxedos. Flowing materials and soft silhouettes dominate. Unusual prints lend the collection energy and character, while elegant details are utilised playfully. All this is typical of Ottod’Ame. What makes the collection stand out from its market competitors? The large selection, including many of our most popular items in our target market. What’s more, the price-performance ratio is good. The name Trésor says it all, and is always associated with our brand name, because this is part of the Ottod’Ame collection - and because we show the most sophisticated styles here. www.ottodame.com



comfortable | quick drying | washable | lightweight


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Agentur Klauser


Cuore Tricolore


With approx. 3,000 pieces per season, Souvenir, an Italian readyto-wear specialist, supplies what makes the hearts of women and retailers beat faster. The product range is available ex-stock from Italy. It can be ordered weekly via a B2B platform or directly via a Munich-based showroom at 14-day intervals. The contemporary blazers, blouses, tops, dresses, skirts, and trousers are made of Italian fabrics near Florence. At a mark-up of 3.0, purchase prices usually range from 35 to 65 Euros. First customers include Bailly in Frankfurt, Hofinger in St. Johann, Pfitzner in Erfurt, Sasa in Ravensburg, Satisfied in Mönchengladbach, and Morgantini in Munich. Labels: 0909, 2 Stars, Bagnoli, Bcc:ed, Sartoria Napoli, Bloch, Blooming 24, Briglia, Care Label, Esemplare, F. de Laurentiis, Faking, Four Ten, Giangi Napoli, Lamberto Losani, Ma-ry-ya, Majestic Filatures, Not Shy, Pierre Luis Mascia, Salvatore Piccolo, Stewart, Hevó, Suns, Texas Robot, Zinga Leather, Maddam, Code, Souvenir Agentur Klauser, Munich/Germany, T 0049.89.231199-0, info@kirstenklauser.de, www.klauserpressoffice.com

How do you recruit new employees for the agency? Uwe Deinert, Managing Director of Cuore Tricolore: I believe that peoples’ talents come to the fore if they are nurtured accordingly. In our case, these are independent characters and salesmen with competence. For example, we hired one of our employees permanently after she worked for us as an assistant during her design studies. Selling is so much more than just holding up a hanger! The same applies to merchandise knowledge and commercial matters. How do you turn disadvantages like travelling and working on weekends into advantages? What’s negative about that? Anyone who isn’t wowed by this work certainly shouldn’t be in an agency. How do you prevent employees from burning out? By monitoring and listening to them. But something else is probably even more important: personal responsibility. Everyone is responsible for his own fire! 24 hours a day. This is something that can hardly be communicated from the outside.

Uwe Deinert is still wowed by selling.

Labels: Chevignon, Hidnander, On parle de vous, The Seller, Vic Matié Man and Woman Cuore Tricolore, Düsseldorf/Germany, uwe.deinert@cuore-tricolore.com, www.cuore-tricolore.com

Heritage Agents

“Get Out of Your Comfort Zone!” What can fashion agencies offer the next generation? Michael Brockmann, Managing Director of Heritage Agents: A lot! Everyone sells themselves every day, and you learn how to sell in an agency. It’s one of the most important things in terms of developing your personality. What else does one learn? Humility and self-discipline. Place your counterpart in the centre of an order negotiation. Stop being a prince or princess! This work pushes you to the limits, but also offers the chance to become more courageous. The feedback is direct! Next time, you can do better. The order phase is very demanding. But only twice a year for a reasonable period of time. Because we work on a project-by-project basis, there are quiet phases in which no one has to take time off for visiting public offices. Working from home is also possible. That’s as good as it gets!

Available ex-stock, highly fashionable, and directly orderable at 14-day intervals: Souvenir embodies Moda Pronta in premium quality.


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Labels: Bagutta, Circolo 1901, Fortela, Lardini, Matteucci 1939, Mey Story, Warm-me Heritage Agents, Munich/Germany, info@heritage-agents.com, www.heritage-agents.com

Loves to sell: Michael Brockmann of Heritage Agents.



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Room With A View

Travel, Benefits, and Success

Claudia Flessa is eager to share her expertise within her fashion agency.

Modeagentur Flessa

A Question of Respect Are young people an asset to your agency? Claudia Flessa, Managing Director of Modeagentur Flessa: Of course, working with young talent is very refreshing! My daughter and her friends have been working with us for four years alongside their studies, and we have included them from the very beginning. For them it is exciting to experience fashion, travel to Paris, and see a show from time to time. How else do you find new employees? Actually, I find suitable candidates within my circle of friends and family, like my three colleagues who have been with me right from the start. It’s great that we’re a permanent team! Do you see yourself as a role model? Yes, especially since I learned the job from scratch, for example in the sales departments of Jean Paul Gaultier, Helmut Lang, and Alexander McQueen. It’s important to me to pass on expertise, of which much has been lost in our industry. Our atmosphere is relaxed and friendly, but every now and then someone needs to put their foot down. Exaggerated casualness is not appropriate in the luxury segment - it’s a question of respect for both products and customers. Labels: 360Cashmere, Charlotte Sparre, Drome, Ella Silla, Lalo, Michael Stars Flessa Modeagentur, Buch am Buchrain/Germany, flessa@flessa-modeagentur.de, www.flessa-modeagentur.de


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How does one prevent excellent salespeople from suffering burnout? Christian Obojes, owner of Room With A View: One allows them to work less and doesn’t exert too much pressure. Everyone needs time to recover after a season has ended. Which role models do junior sales managers need? Bold entrepreneurship, independent time management, and a feeling of accomplishment… Is a fashion agency an exciting workplace for young people? Of course! It’s a very diverse job. They can learn how to interact with people and how to multitask. How does one retain excellent salespeople? By offering benefits such as further education and training. We finance that upon request. We also offer digital gimmicks, a great working atmosphere and environment, and, as a bonus, travel opportunities that we take advantage of together. Labels: Alto, Arkk Copenhagen, Better Rich, D.A.T.E Sneakers, Devotion Twins, Ecoalf, Happy Socks, Holubar, Moon Boot, Moose Knuckles, Pomandere, R13, RRD, Stand Stockholm, Steven K, Veja, Warm ME, White Sand Room With A View, Salzburg/Austria, office@roomwithaview.at, www.roomwithaview.at

Dominik Meuer believes that personal appreciation, corporate culture, and a pleasant working atmosphere are essential prerequisites for employee retention.

Die Hinterhofagentur

“Anything but Routine” Is working in a fashion agency exciting for young people? Dominik Meuer, Managing Director of Die Hinterhofagentur: Of course, it’s super exciting and multifaceted! However, we are noticing that an increasing number of young people are becoming less resilient. When they think of fashion, many have beautiful images in their heads. At the end of the day, however, it’s a tough business in which turnover is paramount. It takes real stamina and bite. How do you keep employees on their toes? By constantly offering new stimuli, for example new collections or tasks. Anything but routine…! That would be boring. What role model are you as a boss? As the owner of the agency, I have to set an example. I still have to be the best in terms of sales. If I merely act as a role model from the office chair, I lose the respect of the employees, as well as the overview. I need direct contact and feedback from our customers. This is infinitely important.

Christian Obojes, the owner of Room With A View, focuses on decreasing performance pressure and promoting individual responsibility.

Labels: AdHoc, Bob, Blune, Cape Horn, Code ltd., Des Petits Hauts, Hamlet, Koike, Leon & Harper, Lightning Bolt, Original Vintage Style, Taylor Tweed, The Jacksons, Portofiori, Prime Shoes Die Hinterhofagentur, Munich/Germany, info@diehinterhofagentur.de, www.diehinterhofagentur.de

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Michaelis Fashion Agency

Agentur Schwarte

Praise and Partnership

How do you convince young people that your job is awesome? René Michaelis, Managing Partner of Michaelis Fashion Agency: With versatile work in a fashion agency that is more varied than companies where it is not necessary to look left and right. A trained all-rounder from a fashion agency is much more valuable than an employee who only knows rigid structures. How do you retain good salespeople? With team spirit and freedom of decision. If goals are exceeded, we offer incentives such as a short trip, a gourmet weekend, or an adventure weekend for two - or fixed bonuses. What is potentially more valuable than monetary aspects? Praise for good work is existential, as is real partnership and joint leisure activities. That makes us a team! What role models do junior sales managers need? Our job requires not only advance number management, but also empathy and an understanding of sales psychology, especially on an interpersonal level. This is not taught sufficiently to university scholars, Nagold graduates and AMD students! In this context, we must set an example in order to offer young managers prospects. Labels: Peuterey, Outhere, Absolut Cashmere, Yippie Hippie, Airfield Michaelis Fashion Agency, Munich/Germany, info@michaelis-fashion-agency.com, www.michaelis-fashion-agency.com


What’s the main attraction of your profession in your eyes? Matthias Schwarte, Managing Director of Agentur Schwarte: For one, it’s an international business. Secondly, we feature a new collection in our show room every six months. Fashion is emotion! This makes it all the more exciting when an employee manages to place an order. It’s fun for all of us! On the other hand, one is sometimes required to work flat out and travel a lot. A huge advantage - as is the great autonomy that comes with it. The times when we have to work flat out are manageable after all. Do you see excellent staff being poached? Of course I do. I used to be disappointed, but now I am calmer. At the end of the day, I’m happy when former employees have great jobs. Matthias Schwarte sells fashion with emotion.

Labels: Emporio Armani, EA 7, Armani Exchange, 59 inches, Daniele Fiesoli, Collection 01, Fil Noir, Mason Garments, Weber + Weber, People of Shibuya, AT.P.CO, Parajumpers, Piola, Spalding Agentur Schwarte, Munich/Germany, office@ agentur-schwarte.de, www.agentur-schwarte.de

Agentur von Winterfeld

The Original

Ingo von Winterfeld’s portfolio includes Dale of Norway: “Dale is the original,” says von Winterfeld. The collection offers both classic patterns and fashionable variations made of soft merino. Von Winterfeld is the agent for Austria and West Germany, thus serving customers such as Strolz, Ludwig Beck, Reischmann, and Schnitzler. His portfolio is complemented by Canadian parkas by Quartz Co and Italian trouser label Teleria Zed. Von Winterfeld, Faak am See/Austria, office@vonwinterfeld.at, www.vonwinterfeld.at

Agentur Wittmann

Future Prospects Is working for a fashion agency exciting for young people? Stefan Wittmann, Managing Director of Agentur Wittmann: That depends largely on the character of the young people in question and what they strive to achieve in their lives. Not everyone is born to sell. How do you recruit new talent? We primarily rely on job portals, but we also recruit based on recommendations. How do you turn disadvantages, such as weekend shifts during trade fairs or the many business trips, into an advantage? We don’t perceive weekend work as a disadvantage. Many trade fairs traditionally take place on weekends. This is no different in other industries. Shopkeepers and their employees can only visit showrooms and trade fairs together on a Sunday. Those who believe that seasonal work on weekends endangers their “work-life balance” should look for a different job. How do you retain excellent salespeople? One needs to offer them a sense of achievement, highlight future prospects, and motivate them accordingly. This also includes ensuring proper travel conditions: good food, nice hotels, and appropriate rental cars.

René Michaelis, the Managing Partner of Michaelis Fashion Agency, attaches great importance to team spirit.


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Labels: Della Famiglia, Fabienne Chapot, La Fée Marabouée, P448, P448 Kids, Sevenday Wonder, Sylt Boheme; The agency is also the sales representative of Billybelt, Canadian Classics, Collezione No 01, Daniele Fiesoli, Ecoalf, Les Deux, Litchi, Soul Katheriné, and Wunderfell in various regions of Germany. Agentur Stefan Wittmann, Düsseldorf/Germany, T 0049.211.58589690, stefan.wittmann@agentur-wittmann.de, www.agentur-wittmann.de

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#Fashiontech Berlin

Digital Future Since January 2015, the #Fashiontech Berlin, in its capacity as a leading business platform during the Berlin Fashion Week, has been presenting international speakers and experts on topics related to digital transformation, change management, innovation, and disruptive technologies. “We strive to inspire decision-makers to implement digital transformation in their own companies by highlighting best case examples. Those who lag behind today, will find it difficult to survive tomorrow. Our aim is to not only prepare businesses for digital transformation, but also to convey a new spirit and desire to experiment. It’s all about trying new things and being faster than others,” says Michael Stracke, the Chief Business Development Officer at #Fashiontech Berlin. Under the motto “Listen! Learn! Experience!”, the format offers workshops and roundtable discussions with the speakers and showcases new products and solutions in the exhibition area in the foyer. 2nd to 3rd of July 2019, www.fashiontech.berlin

Matchmaker, curator, and initiator: trade fair organiser Anita Tillmann understands her role in the industry far beyond her position as Managing Partner of Premium Exhibitions and Station-Berlin.


questions for:

Anita Tillmann

Managing Partner of Premium Exhibitions and Station-Berlin

High-quality input during the Berlin Fashion Week: #Fashiontech Berlin is a leading platform for digitisation in fashion.


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What will happen in the summer with the revised Premium trade fair concept? Anita Tillmann, Managing Partner of Premium Exhibitions and Station-Berlin: As a result of the Europe-wide studies conducted by the Premium Group, in January we created new brand worlds in the eight halls of Station-Berlin based on pricing, image, positioning, and distribution strategy. This was very well received and will be further optimised for the summer edition. We firmly believe that emotionalization doesn’t begin in the store with the consumer, but at the trade fair stand. If there’s no spark at the trade show, if you cannot inspire and fascinate the buyer on-site, it will prove very difficult to implement the brand story or presentation on the sales floor. In these cases, the probability that a brand will simply not be seen, or even forgotten, is high. The aim is to use key looks and storytelling to attract the attention of buyers, to inspire them, and to actively initiate a dialogue. What should a contemporary brand presentation at a trade show look like? We enjoy providing ideas, but, at the end of the day, the brands themselves have to handle their presentation in order to be successful at a touchpoint such as a trade fair. That can be quite difficult at times. In our discussions and workshops with brands, we often find that many of them are afraid to commit to a key look, mainly because they are scared they might not cater to the taste of the majority and are afraid to take responsibility for the decision. It is, however, important to do just that. An adequate presentation in the store is only possible if the brands provide concrete ideas and guidelines. An excellent example is Alphatauri and its 3D printing machine. It was introduced at the Premium and was recently presented to consumers on a large area at the KaDeWe in April. It works brilliantly. Retailers face the challenge of implementing a suitable presentation for every brand. That can’t be done unless everyone works together. We will therefore be presenting even more exciting concepts, stories, and products next season, which will emotionalise in the stores. How can trade fairs be made more sustainable? Of the more than 9 billion tons of plastic waste that have accumulated worldwide, only 9 percent was recycled and 12 percent incinerated. This is a catastrophic track record. That’s why we discuss the subject of plastic avoidance on a daily basis. We work together with all industry protagonists to find concrete solutions. The Premium acts as a platform for sustainable brands, as well as German designers who produce locally and new technologies that make long-term contributions to an improved ecosystem. As the industry’s sparring partner, we promote exchange and networking. Only together can we make a difference! 2nd to 4th of July 2019, www.premiumexhibitions.com

Walter Moser GmbH, A-4863 Seewalchen am Attersee, Industriegebiet 2, T +43 (0) 7662 31 75-0, E office@airfield.at, www.airfield.at


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Pitti Immagine Uomo

French Elegance in Florence The first highlight of the upcoming trade fair season has been confirmed. British designer Clare Waight Keller, the Art Director of LVMH Group since 2017, presents the new Givenchy Menswear collection on the 12th of June at a special event during the 96th edition of the Pitti Immagine Uomo. “Hosting Clare Waight Keller’s runway show is a great honour. It’s a perfect project for the Pitti Uomo: a strong, modern, and elegant vision. I am convinced that the atmosphere and location in Florence provides Givenchy with aesthetic and symbolic inspiration to present its men’s segment in a concise manner,” says Lapo Cianchi, the Director of Communication and Special Events at Pitti Immagine. Following her debut for Givenchy, Waight Keller, who previously worked for Chloé, continues to separate the men’s and women’s lines. In the past, the two ranges were always presented together. 11th to 14th of June 2019, www.pittimmagine.com

On the up: the Gallery in Düsseldorf’s Böhler Complex.

Gallery / Gallery Shoes

Way Up for Düsseldorf A contemporary concept in a cool location: the Gallery has claimed a permanent place in the trade show calendar. “Gallery, as an umbrella brand for the Gallery fashion format and the Gallery Shoes, has developed into a powerful institution,” says a delighted Ulrike Kähler, Manging Director of Igedo Company, and thus responsible for both concepts. “The interplay of both formats with four topically interlocked order dates in Düsseldorf sets a strong tone.” The focus lies on the fashion fair’s Showroom Concept, which offers international trade agencies a platform beyond the five days of the event. The Gallery Shoes remains dedicated to the Urban, Contemporary, and Premium segments. For the last event in March, it rearranged the hall at “Wasserturm” to create more space for highend brands. The summer edition of the Gallery Shoes offers its visitors more than 550 exhibitors, as well as chill areas in the outer zones - including industrial design backdrops. Gallery: 20th to 22nd of July 2019, 26th to 28th of January 2020 Showroom Concept: 19th to 23rd of July 2019, 25th to 29th of January 2020 Gallery Shoes: 1st to 3rd of September 2019, 8th to 10th of March 2020 www.gallery-duesseldorf.com, www.gallery-shoes.com

Panorama Berlin

Infotainment with Event Character

This summer’s Pitti guest designer is Clare Waight Keller, who will present Givenchy’s new menswear collection in Florence.


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As the umbrella brand for the Selvedge Run & Zeitgeist and Xoom, Panorama Berlin serves as a platform to present smaller segments with promising potential in a single location. “We presented our completely revised concept in January and hit a nerve with the reorientation towards an event and infotainment format. This has been reaffirmed by an increase in the number of visitors and internationality, as well as by the excellent feedback in the aftermath of the event,” says Jörg Wichmann, the CEO of Panorama Berlin. “The forthcoming edition remains focused on three pillars: eventisation, infotainment, and matchmaking. We only showcase what is relevant for the consumer. That’s what we concentrate on. The focus is on future topics that offer discernible added value to the entire industry. We continue to promote a wide range of knowledge transfer possibilities. Under the motto “Knowledge to Go”, we offer our visitors an educational programme in the Retail Solutions hall. It addresses the topics that the retail trade should be dealing with at the POS in a solution-oriented manner.” New, central concept store areas in halls 1 to 4 aim to provide inspiration in various contexts. The fashion theme is thus implemented in an exciting lifestyle context. 2nd to 4th of July 2019, www.panorama-berlin-com

A decisive influence on the trade fair location Berlin: the Panorama Berlin.

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Micro-factories in action at the Texprocess.


Digital, Local, and Sustainable From niche fair to established event: a Neonyt visit is almost compulsory.

Neonyt & FashionSustain

Sustainable Beyond the Event Itself Messe Frankfurt has merged its two fashion fairs Ethical Fashion Show Berlin and Greenshowroom to form Neonyt, thus referencing the fundamental transformation process within the fashion and textile industries. In conjunction with the FashionSustain conference format, the #Fashiontech organised by the Premium Group, and other events and shows at Kraftwerk, the move has created a Berlin-based platform for future fashion and sustainable innovation. In addition, Neonyt supports social and cultural initiatives with surplus building materials from exhibition construction. As part of the Trash Galore project, the event coordinators donate the aforementioned materials to social and charitable organisations. “Our medium-term goal is to build a non-profit construction and art market that offers second-hand materials. Our primary aim is to support social, cultural, and creative initiatives that lack the materials and funds to implement projects,” says Fabian Höffner of Trash Galore. “In terms of organising trade shows, our long-term aim is to act as consultants who advise on material procurement and disposal before and during the event.” 2nd to 4th of July 2019, www.neonyt.com

As a leading international trade show for the processing of textile and flexible materials, the Texprocess showcases a wide range of innovative machinery and processes for the automation, individualisation, and sustainable development of the fabrics industry. “Texprocess is once again raising its game for its upcoming edition. While everyone else is still discussing Industry 4.0, we are already exploring Impact 4.0. Trade visitors can expect an impressive range of technologies that will have an impact on every aspect of the way we manufacture and process textiles in the present and future,” says Olaf Schmidt, the Vice President Textiles & Textile Technologies at Messe Frankfurt. One of the trade fair’s main topics are micro-factories, which offer a fully interlinked production process of individualised products and operate fast, flexibly, and locally. This theme is explored in cooperation with, among others, the German Institutes for Textile and Fibre Research (DITF) and the RWTH Aachen. Another central topic highlights the need for sustainability. For the very first time, the sustainability record of the exhibitors is made visible and honoured with a special Innovation Award. Furthermore, the Texprocess Forum, an extension of Messe Frankfurt’s Fashionsustain Conference in Berlin, dedicates lecture blocks exclusively to sustainable innovations in the textile and fashion industries, thus closing the gap to the end product. 14th to 17th of May 2019, www.texprocess.messefrankfurt.com

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Giacomo and Franco Loro Piana are brave enough to earn their own entrepreneurial spurs. The brothers launched their start-up four years ago.


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Franco Loro Piana

“We Listen Carefully.” Loro Piana is a name that harbours commitment. Instead of feathering a pre-made nest, the brothers Franco and Giacomo Loro Piana set out to create a brand according to their own ideas. Sease stands for the love of outdoor sports and blends it with urban styles. Even the brand’s self-definition speaks volumes: “Escaping from your usual routine is a matter of choice, an attitude. It requires energy, imagination, some madness.” The name is a combination of the label’s two pillars: “SEA like the ocean. EASE like release the pression and chase freedom.” In an interview with style in progress, Franco Loro Piana allows deep insights into the soul of an entrepreneur who knows and respects tradition just as much as start-up spirit. Much of what the brothers exemplify with their young business is part of the survival kit of every brand keen on a successful future. It begins with modern technology and season-independent design. It results in sustainability and transparency. Franco Loro Piana describes the company, which was launched four years ago, as the crew of a sailing boat. No coincidental comparison, as the reputation of the Loro Piana dynasty doesn’t rest solely on fabric production and luxury items. Italian sailing enthusiasts speak of the family with great respect too. Interview: Martina Müllner-Seybold. Photos: Gianmario Ledda, Sease.

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oes future require roots? For sure. Merging heritage with research and innovation leads to a more consistent vision of the market, the product, and the whole value chain. We have to understand that not all practices from the past were completely wrong per se. Take genuine raw materials, such as wool, that are by definition sustainable and easier to degrade. Of course, re-engineering production logistics and investing in continuous improvement, as well as more contemporary best practices, allow for better standards overall. You are part of a new entrepreneurial generation in Italy. Why was it so important to you to launch your own business and brand? Cultivating first-hand knowledge and a legacy within the whole process, together with direct experience in retail and branding with visionaries such as my father and uncle, and being in close contact with remote markets, has not only encouraged me to expand my academic credentials, but has also increased my passion for the business and outdoor sports even further. To the extent that, after a phase of research that led to more self-aware-

ness, I decided, together with my brother Giacomo, to shift our attention towards the idea of creating a contemporary wardrobe to mirror such passions. Launching the Sease project, which represents new territory for us, is our way to combine such roots with a proprietary vision. It’s a commitment to offering a lifestyle response to the contemporary menswear market, inspired by an active attitude and a more minimalistic approach. What do you think are the main differences in your business approach to that of your father’s generation? Generally speaking, today’s market is over-saturated, which is why all cultural contents, from the values behind the brand to the lifestyle and communities around it, have made it even more necessary to stand out from the crowd - not to mention product and style. To do so in a consistent way, we nurture authenticity at all levels in exactly the same way our family has approached the business in a very vertical way throughout generations. Unwillingness to accept compromises, paying attention to details, and a strict focus on quality, as well as a genuine - yet careful - strategic approach, are part of the Sease vision. Nevertheless, everything is based on the product itself and the all-important innovation in terms of processes, materials, and design. What makes the clothing industry attractive to young talent? I think it must be the opportunity to express yourselves with excellent design (form follows function), as well as to anticipate trends by listening to both street culture and your personal sources of inspiration, be it music, sports, or art. It is a field where, despite massive changes, there’s still a lot to be said and done. Nobody can survive without clothing. Fashion isn’t merely practical; it is a way to express yourself, both for creatives and consumers. Naturally, everybody dreams about being a successful designer. Italy is facing a huge challenge in terms

Sease creates so-called kits - outfits that prepare for a certain occasion in life. However, the fact that these kits not only work on the sailboat or the slopes, is an integral part of the concept.


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14. – 17. 5. 2019 Leading International Trade Fair for Processing Textile and Flexible Materials

Your Space. More Progress.

NEW CLOTHING. Concentrated inspiration for the textile processing of tomorrow: Experience the hotspot for innovative technologies around the processing of clothing. texprocess.com

in parallel with: powered by:

Frankfurt am Main


of finding skilled workers capable of implementing design visions. Older employees are retiring, while young people have, more often than not, little interest in working in a factory. How do you think your country can solve this problem? There have already been some tentative attempts by private investors to invest in internal schools and academies. From a public perspective, some of our universities are still leading the way in terms of design, while art schools may opt for a more practical approach. But I am quite optimistic that craftsmanship and new technologies can be combined and that the teaching process can benefit from this perspective. Can technology help? By making the work more attractive or by replacing manual workforce? In my opinion, technology is utterly powerless without the support of the human brain. But all jobs can, of course, benefit from new technologies and machines. By utilising technology to support both human kind and productivity, we can save energy, time, and effort in ways that were unthinkable in past centuries, if not ages. Just think about the use of drones in agriculture and the logistics revolution in general. Does this require new corporate structures? Please explain the difference between Sease’s structure and that of traditional businesses. Given that we are just coming out of the start-up phase, we define Sease as a company with a leaner structure. We perceive ourselves as a more robust version of a sailing team. We encourage talent and team-work, as a young company like ours requires a certain flexibility. Given that Sease was only founded four years ago, this can be implemented more easily. We are small, cohesive, and inclusive. We listen carefully and can incorporate the vision of both young and more mature talents.

“The day will come when not having invested in sustainability is beyond risky.”

Do you think fashion has to change to be attractive to a new generation of consumers? If yes, what has to change? The style and design, the general approach, the prices, or the branding? Fashion is, by definition, change. Naturally, millennials demand that a brand represents an increasing number of values. They ask for evidence of any business commitment towards the environment, society, and working conditions. Both transparency and collaboration in terms of sustainability are vital, especially at this stage in our development. Educating customers while listening to their needs is crucial. How do you define luxury today? A good life balance, allowing time for both oneself and maximum efficiency at work. One needs to find time to escape and use technology in a way that allows one to make the most of it. Sease has a completely different approach to collections. You don’t rely on trends or seasons, but on kits for specific occasions and sports. How come? While we still respect seasonal needs, especially in terms of wholesale, we fully understand that a contemporary wardrobe should be essential, multi-purpose, and durable. Sports are a starting point for kits that allow for outdoor usage in the city, while our urban kits are highly technical and comfortable to allow for swift movement. The idea of kits reflects the philosophy that the modern man is well-travelled, active, and style conscious, but is not willing to compromise on comfort. The whole concept actually stems from the idea of a bag used for collecting and taking home the memories of a day at the ocean. That was years ago. This resulted in the development of “Guardaroba Contemporaneo”, which we are still pursuing to this day. One example is the Drone Release at the Pitti in January 2019. You care a lot about the environment. Do you think that luxury items, as well as accessible luxury clothing, need to be “green”? Do you think consumers will tolerate a brand in the upscale price segment that doesn’t commit to environmental protection? Is sustainability a must-have?

Guado (in English: woad) is a plant that contains an intense dye. Sease uses the “German indigo”, as woad is also called, for technical fabrics.


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Definitely. Going green will be virtually compulsory soon. The day will come when not having invested in sustainability, by which I mean actually acting instead of just talking, is beyond risky. Other than a marketing tool, it must be considered as a core value for every new brand and for brands that wish to remain competitive alike. Your style is modern and high-tech, but you also draw inspiration from traditional fabrics and knits. Can you shed some light on your development process? We basically develop at different levels in cooperation with Moreno Ferrari, our creative partner, and our inhouse production team. We love projects that combine our style with heritage and the rediscovery of old techniques, for example the pieces dyed with woad pigment or made of 100 percent Visso wool. We go as far as creating new materials or re-engineering previous ones. One example is Sunrises, a Solaro fabric that combines wool and bio-based nylon. Why are sports so influential in fashion these days? I think this is a new form of what I call power dressing. What one wears is comfortable and practical, but also focuses on the human body and its performance. Sport is not your only source of inspiration. You’ve created SeaseRPM. Tell us about it… SeaseRPM, which stands for “Rarities Photography and Music”, is our selection of vinyl records, hi-fis, prints, books, and rarities that creates an intimate space to which customers return gladly, just to see what’s new.

“No digital experience works without analogue support.” It’s a curated choice that turns Sease stores into a point of interest for audiophiles and collectors, as well as a location for DJ sets and/or talks with brand ambassadors. It creates a mixture of a reference point for locals and day-trippers who could potentially bump into an artist or walk straight into a live jam session. It sound like you’ve adapted the classic skater shop to your target group. Why is a stationary store still such a powerful brand building tool in these modern and digitised times? Our stores are concept stores, places where you can spend time and be inspired. At the same time, they allow for communicating the lifestyle and values of the brand. No digital experience works without analogue support. We both picked key contemporary locations, such as the Pitti and certain resorts, to make this process more consistent and build true communities around the brand. Do you think this will ever change? Or will the physical store always be an important factor for marketing a brand and its mission? The purchase process will definitely change. Our e-commerce warehouse for sease.it, which serves Europe and the UK, already allows for joint data management and is highly reactive. Physical stores will become increasingly personalised destinations and allow for such an integrated approach.

The flagship stores offer more than fashion. SeaseRPM, whereby RPM stands for “Rarities Photography and Music”, has created a place that collectors and connoisseurs can call home.


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KLAUSER – Kirsten Klauser GmbH n.klauser@kirstenklauser.de info line +49 (0)89 231199-0 lambertolosani.com





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OPEN OR CLOSED? Are opening hours the Achilles heel of the stationary fashion retailers? Kay Alexander Plonka argues that the 24/7 shopping experience offered by the Internet should not be the goal. An opinion piece by Kay Alexander Plonka

When weighing the pros and cons of the Shop Opening Act, the first thing that comes to mind is that the Internet is open around the clock. This is soon followed by highlighting that people who work for the police, the fire brigade, in hospitals, in both regional and long-distance transport, or in the catering and hotel trade are also required to be on duty around the clock. That is, of course, true. All the more impressive is the concept of a retailer from the greater Vienna area who merely opens her store for a few hours a day and confidently argues that customers should fall in line with her daily rhythm. After all, she can’t be expected to stand in the store waiting for people to come by. This may be a very rare example, but the idea should be congratulated. In Germany, opening hours are regulated individually by the country’s 16 states in order to retain patronage over when, where, and for how long people can shop. This has various reasons, such as employee protection or the safeguarding of Sundays and public holidays. Austria, on the other hand, relies on a federal law that is designed as a prohibitive regulation with exceptions. This means that it’s up to you when you open your store, as long as it’s not outside the stipulated opening times. The situation is similar in almost all European countries. Only the Internet knows no closing time; people can shop whenever they want. When you stroll through the centre of Paris on a Sunday, however, you will notice that an exception applies to the French capital. Here, tourists can shop to their heart’s content in the city centre. Most smaller stores open at noon and close in the early evening, 036

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which means that everyone is at home or in a restaurant in time for dinner. It works like a treat: crowded stores, crowded cafes, and crowded streets. It seems to make everyone happy, at least if you don’t have anything better to do on Sundays - or if you don’t have time during the week. During the week, most stores, be they delis or shoe shops, close punctually at 7pm. Let’s face it, nobody visits a store at that time anyway. Everyone is either cooking for the kids or already enjoying an aperitif in a bistro. Germany still handles its affairs more bureaucratically. The drugstore on “Alexanderplatz” in Berlin is open six days a week until 10pm. On “Schönhauser Allee” in Prenzlauer Berg a small supermarket operated by a well-known chain is open 24 hours a day from Monday to Saturday. Both remain, however, closed on Sundays - just like all the other stores. In Berlin, shops are only allowed to open on ten fixed Sundays. In other federal states there are far fewer Sundays on which this is possible. What is quite grotesque, is that many of Berlin’s legendary “late stops”, which mostly sell drinks, vegetables, or ready-made pizzas, are now also required to remain closed on Sundays and public holidays. This applies to all shops that sell more than flowers, newspapers, bread rolls, and dairy products, according to a decision of the Higher Administrative Court. Don’t get me wrong, I too am of the opinion that extended opening hours won’t generate more sales. However, I strongly believe that the way we are patronised in terms of when something can be bought is no longer contemporary. Just visit one of Berlin’s many Sunday flea markets. You’d be surprised by what sales entrepreneurs generate there. Employee protection needs to remain on the top of the agenda, no question about it. But at the end of the day it’s all about equal competitive conditions for all. If someone opens a store, for which rent needs to be paid 365 days a year, when customers are willing to come, then it should be left to the entrepreneur to decide when it makes sense to open. Such decisions shouldn’t be hampered by prohibitive regulations. With this in mind: I wish you great business success - whenever!


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The fashion trade faces a crucial question: Do young people want to pursue a career in sales? Christian Greiner, Frank Troch and Stephan Huber discuss possible answers.


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A RARITY IN RETAIL: TRAINEES Is vocational training in the fashion retail trade suffering from an image problem? Digitisation has made the sales profession more exciting and versatile than ever. Nevertheless, the number of young people attracted to the industry is decreasing. We sat down with Frank Troch and Christian Greiner, both of whom run training businesses in Munich, to discuss the demands, expectations, and qualities of young talent. Interview: Stephan Huber. Text: Isabel Faiss. Photos: Yorick Carroux

Let’s start with a provocative question. Should one still encourage a young person to pursue a career in fashion retailing? Christian Greiner: Absolutely, because the job is extremely multifaceted. It combines so many different aspects. It’s not merely about fashion, but also about people, about service. One has to be a psychologist of sorts, and be able to improvise. It’s a very demanding job that requires physical effort. One has to have a certain passion for service. In my opinion, one of the central problems is that we often fish in the wrong ponds when selecting people for the job. Frank Troch: The service aspect must be the main focus, absolutely. The digitisation and mechanisation of our world has created the need of a counterweight: communication and interpersonal relationships. That’s what people are looking for. That’s why they visit city centres. They want to feel and experience quality. Thus, the retail salesperson profession will become increasingly important over time. And there are many additional factors that make this job more attractive than in the past: a mix of technology and new media, for instance. CG: Digitisation has raised every consumer’s level of expectation. I can sense that in myself too. The tolerance for bad service is dwindling. If a service provider welcomes me in a warm and friendly manner, I have no problem whatsoever forgiving the odd technical mistake. But if some nerd who claims to know everything comes across as arrogant, I leave at once. Why is the public image of a salesperson so disagreeable? And what can be done to improve it? FT: Unfortunately, the public often doesn’t even perceive the high-quality work of well-trained employees, because so many rely on less trained, cheaper personnel. Quality is, however, in high demand at the moment and will continue to become increasingly important in the future. style in progress



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“When people apply for a job simply because they have an interest in fashion and enjoy shopping, I don’t know what to do with them. Nobody applies for a hotel job because they love sleeping in hotels. It’s all about a passion for service!” Christian Greiner of Beck, Wöhrl, and Wormland

CG: My brother, who is in the hotel business, is the best example. He always has extremely friendly and attentive young employees. This always makes me think, because the hotel industry certainly doesn’t offer better working conditions than the retail trade. The working hours are even less attractive, for example. Either the vocational schools are better, or they are better at selecting the right candidates. I have noticed this phenomenon in Tyrol. Many local retailers focus primarily on the hotel industry when recruiting employees. But surely this means that the profession does have a massive image problem. How can one convey the qualities this job has to offer to young people? FT: We have to utilise the people who work in the industry, above all managers and their role model function. When hiring a new employee, be it a trainee or lateral entrant, I firmly believe that a personal conversation should always be the focal point of the process. Detached from the CV and qualifications, it’s all about whether the candidate in question convinces me as a potential customer. This aspect has lost importance, especially in the younger generation against the background of assessment centres and other application mechanisms. And that’s a mistake. That’s not the way you find the right people for the job. Let’s take a step back. How can one reach young people earlier? How does one create initial interest? CG: We involve our trainees in communication. Social media is, of course, a brilliant tool for something like this. At Wöhrl, we interview trainees about their respective jobs and ask them why they chose to pursue this particular career. We then distribute the interviews via social media channels as short, witty posts. FT: That’s how we recruit almost all our trainees now. Young 040

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people are capable of convincing other young people. It has to be informal and authentic. CG: I saw that Musikhaus Thomann, a retailer of musical instruments, shares its corporate Christmas party on social media. It’s a bombastic fancy dress party featuring a live band. It offers everything employees could wish for. They edit the footage and post a short film with the message: Would you like to be part of this? It’s such a brilliant idea, so we decided to do the same. FT: We also produced a film portraying a day in the life of a Hirmer trainee. Our apprentices were afforded an opportunity to explain their respective duties and express their enthusiasm authentically. This triggered an amazing amount of positive feedback. As a company, we are definitely not in a position to alter public opinion; that opinion is the result of many factors, including press reports. But when you look at it from the perspective of a strong brand like Hirmer or Beck, then the perception of the retail salesperson profession isn’t that negative. We, for one, certainly can’t complain about a lack of applications. I’d like to follow up on this: Has the quality of applications changed over the last decade? FT: Yes, of course. I assume it hasn’t changed for the better… FT: It’s different now. What we have noticed over the last two decades is that it takes longer to find the 15 apprentices we train here in Munich. In the past, we could choose from 200 to 300 applicants. Today, we choose from 80 to 100. Are there some who are keen on entering the training programme after graduating from high school among those 80? CG: Yes. The majority even… FT: Many of them have dropped out of university and joined the




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It is essential to find the right candidates, preferably as soon as the initial address. The search begins with a positive portrayal of the retail salesperson profession.

industry as lateral entrants. At the end of the day, selling is a talent. Given this premise, I have always been certain that it can be a really great job to have. FT: The commitment and conviction to remain in the job is extremely high. Young people are particularly motivated. They want to be in the thick of things and get involved. Once they have made their choice and been hired, they are fully committed to the cause. After all, the beauty of the job is that you can shoulder responsibility right from the start. Customer contact allows you to make your own decisions. As in any other job, the appreciation of performance by managers also plays a vital part. Only those who receive positive feedback will remain motivated in the long term. CG: We organised a Parent-Trainee Day to get to know the parents too. I sometimes wonder if every member of our society is being pushed towards becoming an Instagram superstar, YouTuber, or blogger. Maybe that’s everyone’s ultimate goal. And if you don’t have a high school diploma or haven’t studied, then you’re told you’re as thick as a plank anyway. That’s exactly the underlying problem… CG: At the same time, the demands of the younger generation and their parents in particular - have become so extreme that one has the feeling the applicants no longer apply to the company, but that it’s the other way around. Applicants no longer ask themselves what they can contribute to the business, but what the company can offer them. FT: Employer appeal has become extremely important. CG: This includes sabbaticals, part-time employment, life-work balance… Maybe I’m what is called “old school”, because I 042

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believe that you need to prove what you can do before making demands. That’s why I prefer to rely on people who are grateful for an opportunity offered to them and want to seize it rather than focusing on their personal profit right from the start. FT: I feel exactly the same. This “old school” approach is exactly what we need today. After all, young people are not necessarily opposed to traditions and values like reliability. They are, however, categorically opposed to being managed with Prussian discipline and control. In reality, boundaries and values, as well as their stringent communication by the employer, are something they really appreciate. In this context, allow me to return to the question whether the quality has deteriorated. Perhaps not, but we have noticed that many self-evident virtues one used to learn at home, such as attentiveness and respect for others, are no longer self-evident today. We, as a company, have to tackle this issue head on and communicate such values. CG: Many apply to us because they have an interest in fashion. They enjoy shopping and think it could be a good fit for them. That is, however, a completely wrong motivation. Nobody applies for a hotel job because they love sleeping in hotels, but because they are attracted by the kind of service that entails ensuring a guest has a pleasant stay. That is the right motivation. Not that you yourself like to shop. When questioning how to make the profession more attractive, wouldn’t it be an ingenious model if companies would join forces on equal terms in order to afford each other’s trainees the opportunity to temporarily experience the hotel business, for example? Would that be a good idea?

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The number of applicants for trainee and apprentice positions at large companies remains high. Our interviewees, however, believe that the selection process should focus less on qualities that are evaluated in assessment centres and more on actual sales talent.

CG: We have already implemented such a model at Wöhrl, Wormland, and Beck. The question is whether such a concept is financially feasible. Therefore the question arises at what education level one offers such an option. Galleries Lafayette, for example, trains its entire workforce in advance to a very high level, thus ensuring that they have a completely different understanding of the products and customer demands. I wonder if that actually makes a difference? FT: Within Hirmer Group, we offer that too at Eckerle and Hirmer Grosse Grössen. We have the possibility to send our trainees to a different branch for a few weeks. Many take advantage of this option. However, the trainees themselves have to find an exchange partner and show initiative. The most recent addition to our group is a hotel business, so we will certainly consider further exchange opportunities in the future. This is an effect that we hope to extract from the fact that we can establish a highly effective business transfer between both sectors. Fundamentally, I agree that even an apprentice exchange involving partners within the same industry could be highly advantageous. One simply has to be careful not to overtax the people involved. CG: Everything requires a sense of proportion. A vocational training should never promise opportunities that overextend expectations. Not every salesperson will be promoted to buyer. FT: One perspective that we always disclose is that we are not training workers for the market, but for ourselves. In principle, the chance of being hired by us when the training period ends is very high. Our training provides a broad foundation for a successful career. We tell people that all options within our structure

are open to them, but the basis is always working with customers in sales. We back the development of everyone who qualifies beyond that. Many employees in managerial positions - across all hierarchy levels - are home-grown. Let’s talk about money. Is the earning potential in the retail trade, in comparison, really that poor as it is invariably portrayed? CG: That depends on the comparison. More problematic is selling products that are so expensive that they are out of proportion to salaries. It also depends on the city. Munich is always a bad example in this respect. It’s equally decisive to what extent one works with commission models. We have such models at Wöhrl exclusively, at Wormland partially, and at Beck currently not at all. In essence, I believe that this is a topic that promotes the truly gifted salespeople. FT: The variability of income - in a form that isn’t excessive - is already an essential factor in many industries, including the automotive industry. Our commission models for trainees kick in from the second year of apprenticeship. They first need to learn the basics. CG: We allow our trainees to work with customers right from the start. FT: So do we, but not commission-based. CG: I don’t think much of team bonuses, maybe on a selective basis. Individual bonuses achieve the greatest impact. FT: This is, of course, very popular with the employees. However, we are very careful to ensure that the bonus percentage of the overall income doesn’t exceed 20 to 25 percent. Bonuses are important, but one shouldn’t overrate them either. We want to style in progress



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“When I, as an employee, identify with a company, I live by its values and am part of a bigger picture.” Frank Troch of Hirmer

build customer loyalty, not tempt our salespeople to seek quick success at all costs. Excellent salespeople understand that they can only profit from commissions in the long term as long as the customer is truly satisfied. FT: During my apprenticeship it was still common practice for every salesperson to have their own regular customers, whom they even called in person when, for example, new items arrived at the store. This approach seems to have disappeared. We therefore try to convey to our young employees that we, as a company, are not the only ones responsible for establishing customer loyalty. They are also called upon to build and maintain these customer relationships, as long as the respective customer actually wants them to. We are tasked to teach trainees that each individual is responsible for himself/herself and the company, not just vice versa. This is what complicates training. One trainee understands, but another may not. This is an exciting cue. I was following yet another discussion on digitisation and its effects earlier today. One of the biggest effects on humans is that digitisation lowers attention levels, i.e. the ability to perceive an environment. In this respect, it is consistent to describe a service employee taking care of a customer attentively as an experience worth mentioning. CG: Yes, because you have to act intrinsically on your own accord. Digitisation takes care of virtually everything for you. It suggests and decides for you. You don’t even have to think anymore. FT: And it prevents empathy, which is a basic requirement for sales jobs. That’s why it’s our philosophy to implement everything with a sense of proportion. 044

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One aspect that is often neglected when discussing personnel issues is the integration of older employees into a new, digitised working environment. Digitisation has brought about massive changes in shopping patterns and customer behaviour. What can a company do to retain such long-term employees with a high level of qualification and experience in this field? CG: These employees are extremely valuable assets. One doesn’t have to confront them with the latest developments of digitisation; there is still a large field of analogue topics that are equally important. At Beck, for example, we have an employee who is now in partial retirement. On Saturdays, she occasionally supports our team on the ground floor. She greets customers, tells them what’s happening in the store, and raises their spirits. She has this beautiful smile on her face when she greets them, which has an incredible effect. No digital tool can do that. I have always shared the point of view that an employee’s age doesn’t matter as long as he/she has this gift for interpersonal communication. FT: The employee structure reflects the customers. It’s always a mix, never only old or only young. We always strive to retain long-serving employees as long as possible, because we lose competence - especially communication competence - with every person who leaves the company for retirement. An older employee knows how to communicate properly, while a younger one understands the corresponding technological tools. Everything has its merit. In an ideal world, younger employees teach their older colleagues their skills, and vice versa. This particular model is beginning to blossom and we are promoting it proactively. There are older employees who are interested in digital tools, enjoy using them, and know how to handle them. Our task is to lower precisely this inhibition threshold.



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1 INSPIRING PEOPLE INSPIRING Communicating fashion is a profession with so many facets that it requires rough diamonds. Finding such employees resembles looking for a needle in a haystack. Raw talent is scarce, while the prospects and creativity of many careers in fashion often remain unacknowledged.


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Work travellers, frugalists, work-life balancers – a new generation of employees requires the entire industry to rethink. What demands do young trainees make on fashion retailers? What do retailers do to appreciate the added value of this generation, especially in terms of new technologies and communication channels? Generation Z poses a bit of a challenge for the retail trade. Text: Isabel Faiss. Illustration: Claudia Meitert@Caroline Seidler


Günter Dworschak, Head of Sales at Modehaus Adelsberger “Today’s trainees have different priorities and often live in a different family environment. Today it is normal that both parents are working and pursuing their respective careers. Naturally, we have also noticed that an increasing number of young people strive to attend secondary schools. Apprenticeships are less relevant. The image of apprenticeship needs to improve. Young employees must be offered an environment where they feel at home, where they can talk about various topics. They need to feel secure and have young apprentice managers who understand their issues. One needs to both listen and be demanding. Today’s apprentices are often rather delicate plants. A lot of what they used to learn at home now has to be learned at work. A strong corporate environment with a positive image is therefore more important than ever - as is target-oriented, strong leadership. Beyond the standard, we promote trainees by organising external workshops with recognised partners, as well as offering internal training courses and apprentice projects. We promote and demand alike. In 2018, for example, our apprentices were afforded an opportunity to plan, furnish, stock, and run their own store for a pre-defined period of time.”


Andreas Moreau, owner of Mode & Sport Moreau Kaprun “We have an internal apprentice development plan that leads up to the final exam. We believe that we can learn from our apprentices on a daily basis. They often have a simpler and unbiased approach to many topics such as product presentation, customer contact, and other internal processes. This is where one can find the greatest intrinsic motivational potential. It’s vital for them to make their own decisions within a set framework and to be allowed to express their opinions openly. Our apprentices don’t even know the term “Can I help you?”. It isn’t part of their vocabulary, so to speak. This results in a completely new conversation level. In a healthy environment of give and take, our apprentices appreciate the many freedoms they enjoy despite the many other obligatory duties that are part of an apprenticeship.”

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Amir Amiri, Communication Manager at Layers London “Today’s employees are much more conscious and aware of what good practice and a healthy working environment is. Generally speaking, our younger generation is more emotionally connected and focused on ethics. I don’t think it’s harder to find good staff today - it’s a different game. The industry is more global, the staff are again more connected, and therefore their requirements differ. But you can still find good people out there. People would argue and say Instagram raises a bunch of wannabe celebrities who have bad ethics and work attitude. But personally, I find the younger staff more knowledgeable and just as eager to learn, develop, and work. I’m a big fan of the saying ‘work smarter, not harder’. I think transparency is something the industry hasn’t embraced for too long. This creates a counter-reaction. People want and need transparency. Continuing the bullshit parade, people are fed up with feeling that they’re not good enough, not sexy enough, not skinny enough, not white enough, etc. With this in mind - and given that people are more expressive of their personalities and more comfortable with their identities - people need to feel connected to the brand values of the company they represent.”


Martina and Hannes Profanter, Founders and Managing Directors of Maximilian in South Tyrol “With the so-called Generation Z, we are almost experiencing a paradigm shift. The rules of the game are changing. Dealing with authority and hierarchies is completely different, as are expectations regarding job and development within the profession. The value system is different. Flat hierarchies, community approaches, and a democratic division of labour are now commonplace. Expectations are high, while the resilience is often limited. The planning horizon and objectives are short-term, which has an influence on (long-term) loyalty. The confrontation with Generation Z is not only a challenge, but also an enrichment, because completely new approaches and perspectives are brought into play - new solutions and approaches that are valuable for the future and competitiveness in general. This clash of generations thus also means evolution. As far as finding the right employees is concerned, it is like mining for diamonds: the most valuable gemstones are rare and not always easy to recognise - but they exist. We would like to inspire the new generation with development possibilities. Testimonials for this are the many employees who have pursued impressive careers at Maximilian on account of their performance.”


René Weise, Store Manager at Bram Luxembourg, branch of Konen Bekleidungshaus KG “No, I don’t agree that there are hardly any motivated, qualified and committed sales trainees. But even we are noticing that a distorted media perception is convincing an increasing number of young people that they can achieve high recognition - and even make a living - with an Instagram profile or YouTube content. From today’s point of view, even I would find it hard to find motivation to pursue an education based on standards from 20 years ago. This is where HR managers need to take responsibility. Young people no longer want to be fobbed off with tasks designed to merely keep them busy. When I talk to our youngest employees, I can see that they are willing to realise their potential once they recognise the significance, the added value for themselves, and the opportunity to shape the future of the company. We repeatedly find that the trainees or young people we hire have been deceived by the image of their previous employers. The employers’ branding had very little in common with the day-to-day job or corporate culture in general. Our trainees are allowed to design their own projects to ensure that they identify correlations and learn from mistakes. Given that we run branches in Munich and Luxembourg, young people have repeatedly accepted the offer to switch between locations in recent years.” 048

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AN INTERNAL MARKETING DEPARTMENT FOR EMPLOYEES The finesse with which one competes for the favour of employees should be no less than the sophistication one displays when competing for customers. An opinion piece by Floris van Bommel, Creative Director of Floris van Bommel


arketing was invented sometime in the middle of the last century. Simply put, someone thought at some point: “If a business kindles, feeds, and increasingly focuses on the needs of its customers, then the situation for the company improves continuously. This results in more revenue, even more growth, and an ever-increasing market share!” This thought is, of course, absolutely logical and true. Almost every company has aligned itself accordingly and adopted this “philosophy”, which can seem degenerate in some current excesses, with the aim of outdoing each other. The bizarre thing is that a comparable philosophy without that external competition kick, so reversed and directed inwards, is suddenly considered much less self-evident and energised as soon as it pertains to staff and employees. It seems as if people still believe that, at the end of the day, one can buy humanity, loyalty, consistency, and honesty with a generous salary alone. Today’s recruitment processes are enormously advanced. The knowledge about the rights and duties of employees has been explored thoroughly and articulated down to the last detail. Nevertheless, it is often difficult to find the old-fashioned, simple warmth that binds and retains. Exceptions are often family business, mostly medium to small in size. Our company qualifies for this category too. Traditionally, we feel very closely involved in the “ups and downs” of our employees. We live with them, establish human relationships over decades (which can be awkward at times), involve them, respect individual origins, and allow them to share in the profits depending on position and function. THE HEART OF THE COMPANY

Many companies are struggling with personnel problems. The market is overloaded, fluctuation is high, and talent is hard to find - let alone retain. The solution to these problems can always be found in the heart of the company. It’s all about the intrinsic intention with which the management handles its employees. Is it merely a question of “satisfying” employees or is there an intent to actually listen to their needs. 050

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Caring for employees with heart and soul: Floris van Bommel.

In our factory in Moergestel, for example, the people at the machines produce shoes every single day. Some have been on the job for more than 40 years. I’ve known some of these senior staff members since I was a boy. They regularly tell me about weekend trips or holidays during which they spotted our shoes in certain stores. They are proud, feel involved, and are part of the bigger picture. Conversely, this also applies to colleagues from accounting, sales, marketing, and design. Nobody works in isolation. Every day, everyone sees what they are working for in the finished product. CARING WITH HEART AND SOUL

It probably sounds simple and profane, but employees are normal people. Just as in their leisure time, they require attention, recognition, security, friendliness and humanity, deepening relationships, and the feeling of being important no matter what their job is. Companies with a management that takes these things seriously will achieve better results in all areas. This often happens quite naturally in family businesses. “Human kindness” is often more commonplace. Therefore, I suggest that “internal marketing departments” should be made mandatory. Just as marketing departments focus obsessively on the consumer, the internal counterparts should pour their heart and soul into looking after the needs of employees.


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“GOOD PEOPLE KNOW GOOD PEOPLE” Sneaker Intelligence Unit is the name of an online challenge initiated by the fashion search engine Lyst to recruit the biggest sneakerheads. Potential applicants had to answer some tricky insider questions before they were allowed to submit an actual application. Kevin Sharkey, the Director of Talent Acquisition, met with style in progress to discuss modern recruitment and HR strategies. Text: Martina Müllner-Seybold. Photos: Lyst

With its Sneaker Intelligence Unit recruiting process, Lyst leads by example. If you strive to hire the most outstanding talent, you have to be outstanding yourself. How did this idea come about? The sneaker industry is a dynamic, fast growing area of opportunity for Lyst, and for the fashion industry as a whole. To unlock the future of sneaker shopping, we knew we had to connect with the community that understands it best. So we created the Sneaker Intelligence Unit as a fun, authentic way to engage with the powerful sneakerhead audience. Gen Z employees are hard to get and hard to retain. What are the most important benefits one has to offer young employees? We find that Gen Z employees rank health and wellbeing highly in their priorities. We provide free healthy food and snacks for all staff to eat at breakfast, lunch, or anytime of the day. We also provide two free yoga sessions per week within working hours. Gen Z are, of course, quite fashion conscious, so we also provide a generous annual clothing allowance to buy fashion through Lyst. Combining tech and fashion may seem awesome to us, but fashion may not be the first choice for IT experts. How do you recruit your tech staff? What makes Lyst attractive to them? The product that Lyst builds is unique in the marketplace. Evolving the product requires innovation and solving complex problems, often through experimentation. Technical staff, particularly engineers, are highly motivated by discovering interesting problems to solve through innovative means. Lyst provides a good environment for them to do this. What skill set are you looking for in new talent? This varies depending on the particular discipline that we are hiring for, however we have some core values that we ideally expect candidates to align with. These include, humility, putting our customer at the centre of everything and having an impact focus.

Kevin Sharkey, the Director of Talent Acquisi­ tion at fashion search engine Lyst, knows that Gen Z em­ ployees want to be baited differently.

Now that’s a workplace! Lyst’s office space in London boasts a beautiful view of Tower Bridge.

A global platform, a global market - has the search for talent become global too? And how do you manage it? Yes, we have a global reach for talent and often market map for ‘in demand’ skill sets in countries outside the UK or Europe. We are somewhat restricted by Visa quota but we have operational capability within our HR team to manage candidates through the sponsorship process. Where do you find new employees? Do you use traditional advertising, external recruitment experts, or scour social media platforms? The latter is, after all, their “native habitat”. We use a lot of different channels to attract candidates and our in house talent acquisition team do this very well. If I was to pick a favourite I’d say referrals. Good people know good people and there is a lot of evidence to support the fact that referrals tend to be better co-workers, are more productive, have better tenure and are more likely to get promoted! style in progress



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LET’S JUST TACKLE THE PROBLEM The fashion trade requires employees with strong personalities. Rather than relying on conventional training methods, Modehaus Schnitzler tries to offer young talent a perspective. An opinion piece by Andreas Weitkamp Managing Director at Modehaus Schnitzler

Andreas Weitkamp is anything but a lone fighter. He is preparing his fashion house for the future with enthusiasm.


eople say we Westphalians are stubborn and traditional. Yes, we can play football… but only those of us south of Münster. However, there’s one thing we Westphalians are not known for: moaning. Our industry loves a good moan: about the weather, customers, online trading, innovation, digitisation. The latest topics we’re making a huge fuss about are delivery dates and - of course - personnel. It’s oh so difficult to recruit excellent, young talent. So what to do? Keep on whining? Wait for things to improve? My mother always says that we don’t get paid for waiting. So let’s just tackle the problem, shall we? We must offer young people a perspective, see the situation through their eyes. We need to create an education system that develops personalities. An education in retail has to consist of more than wiping and tidying up shelves. That is a thing of the past. We Westphalians don’t enjoy dwelling on the past. In a fast digital world and in the context of comparable product ranges, it is all the more important to have talented staff. But how should we go about it? Is it more important to teach a trainee how to wipe glass panes, what a size gradient looks like, and how the boss likes his coffee? Or is it much more about showing a young person that our profession combines the most beautiful aspects of three worlds: business studies, psychology, and improvisational theatre! That’s why the motto of our recently launched Horizon Project is “It’s Bigger Than Fashion”. Every year of their training, our trainees can choose between two partners with whom they complete an internship. They’re as different as we humans are. We can’t teach everything ourselves, that’s certain! For topics such as event management or social media communication, 052

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which are no longer new media, we require partners who think alike. At a jeweller, our trainees can handle a watch worth as much as 30 winter jackets. At the reception desk of a hotel, they learn how to deal with customer complaints. During a guided city tour, they lose the fear of speaking in front of a group. In Drykorn’s showroom, our trainees can see how the other side of our industry ticks. We found excellent partners, convinced the Chamber of Commerce, reassured the vocational college, and involved the parents. And we listened to our trainees and actively involved them too. We picked a path that seemed logical. We strive to create added value, draw perspectives, and form alliances. In short: we strive to make training in one of the most beautiful professions more attractive! We take “It’s Bigger Than Fashion” literally. There are more important things than fashion. There are more important things to learn during an apprenticeship than that I like my coffee with cold milk. If we don’t change anything, nothing changes. That’s why we seek change. I hope we Westphalians aren’t the only ones to do so!


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“PEOPLE IN FOCUS” 340 employees throughout the year, 500 during the season - Bründl, a sports retailer with 26 stores in 9 cities, has prioritised the topic “Humans at Bründl” for many years now. Owner Christoph Bründl has sworn his management team to this distinguishing feature. We sat down for a chat with Elisabeth Rendl, who is at the forefront of personnel development and recruiting.

Head of personnel development and recruiting at Bründl: Elisabeth Rendl.

Text: Martina Müllner-Seybold. Photos: Bründl

Finding excellent salespeople is hard enough as it is, but you operate in locations with distinct seasonality. How different do you need to conduct yourselves to ensure that you have well-trained staff, for which you are renowned, in place at the start of the season? Without doubt, it’s a great challenge. We need to find approx. 100 new employees every winter season, because we are winter sports specialists and operate many stores in tourist destinations. In Ischgl, for example, we employ 70 people in winter, but merely 15 in summer. We invest heavily in benefits such as the staff lodge we recently built, stylish accommodation, free lift tickets, great shopping rates, free rental equipment, lunches, events, and team-building measures. That makes all the difference. Actually, I’d say it’s even a requirement now. We always ask ourselves what motivates people who enjoy working in the mountains and what we can do to be the most attractive employer for these people? We have, for instance, reduced the weekly workload. If so desired, an employee can work four days a week instead of six. We have a high proportion of seasonal workers keen to improve quality of life in the form of a beautiful winter in the mountains. If they don’t have time to pursue their passion for skiing or boarding, they aren’t content. Only enthusiastic employees inspire customers. Today, selling is so much more than simply distributing goods. Your employees encounter demanding, well-informed customers who want to have a conversation at eye level. What do you look for when scouting for new talent? We are interested in people who like other people and enjoy inspiring them. We want people who like interacting with others. Bründl doesn’t merely sell products, it creates experiences. We strive to ensure that customers feel welcome. Accordingly, our employees should enjoy welcoming them. Besides, we are keen on people who are willing to develop. Every career path is open in our company and we support everyone in terms of personal development. We need people who value such an opportunity. We are like a greenhouse that promotes the growth and development of employees. We don’t offer jobs - we offer development opportunities.

How do you retain excellent employees? We embody our values, culture, and spirit. The benefits I mentioned earlier are almost standard now. We invest a lot of effort into turning seasonal jobs into full-year positions, but we will never succeed entirely given that we operate in winter-heavy regions. What makes us proud is that so many seasonal workers return. What are your most successful recruiting tools? Do classic job advertisements still make sense for an employer like Bründl? Classic print ads still make sense in areas with sufficient local staff availability. They are, of course, always supported with digital measures. In terms of seasonal workers, we mainly rely on digital job portals and social media, especially as most of them are abroad. However, two of our most successful tools are recommendations and our “employees recruit employees” programme. Only truly contented employees ask relatives or friends to join the Bründl team. If it works out, the bonus the employee receives is 1,000 times more valuable than investing in a job advertisement and mostly cheaper too. People are clearly an absolute priority at Bründl and this approach is reflected in the management team. How do you define successful personnel management? The employees are always the main focus at Bründl. You encounter this mantra at all levels of the company. Christoph Bründl, the owner, is almost obsessed with the topic and repeatedly emphasises that the employees are the real assets of a company. At the end of the day, the stationary retail trade thrives on people buying from people. If the chemistry is right and if our employees are perfectly trained and prepared for different customers, then we can create experiences that are disseminated positively. To this end, we have an extraordinary budget for various seminars at our Bründl Academy. We develop our staff on professional and personal levels alike. The curriculum includes communication and sales seminars, flirting classes, awareness courses, and nature workshops. That latter is the winter season kick-off event for all employees. Such investments pay off and word gets around. During job interviews, we repeatedly hear that these investments were the reason for the application. Do you understand why some competitors try to save money on personnel first in economically trying times? Our boss definitely doesn’t understand it. We do exactly the opposite. Saving in that area creates a downward spiral. The economic crisis of 2008 is an excellent example. Everyone else was cutting back on personnel, training, and education. Back then, Christoph made clear that he wanted to increase the budget for human resources. An excellent decision, as was proven by the years that followed and up to the present day. style in progress



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The number of vacancies in the fashion retail trade is rising, not only in countries like Germany with low unemployment. Even in areas where young people in particu­ lar are affected by un­ employment, fashion retailers are still struggling to find the right talent. Carefully selected examples from all around the globe prove that it is, nevertheless, possible to find excellent sales­ people. These examples set precedents. Text: Isabel Faiss. Photos: Stores


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7 Owner Chichi Meroni is style icon and role model for her L’Arabesque store in Milan. Her demands on her employees are high.


1 At L’Arabesque, Chichi Meroni blends the current vintage look with the style of the 1950s and 1960s.

L’Arabesque, Milan In Competition with Online www.larabesque.net Labels: among others Agl, Bata Limited Edition, Bensimon, Fessura, Furoshiki, Operà de Paris, Paraboot, Porselli, Robert Clergerie, Scarpe, the Cambridge Stachel Company, Teva, Weejuns Bass, Whiting & Davis, Whole Love Kyoto, Zespà Chichi Meroni: “Italians are born surrounded by beauty, but this isn’t enough. So yes, it isn’t easy to recruit qualified staff in Italy at the moment. We are proud of the fact that almost all our employees have been with us for a very long time. When a new member joins us, he or she is surrounded by experts who not only provide technical training, but also convey our values. We are like a family. The future of fashion retailing is, as it always has been, about selectivity. Today, we have to face the reality of an ever-growing online business. More than ever, retail staff are required to cultivate lasting relationships with customers - built on trust, good taste, and excellent service.”

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A Simple Story, Zurich Allrounders Wanted www.asimplestory.ch Labels: among others Antik Batik, Basic Apparel, Cowgirlblues, Cossac, Etc.Etc, Lou & Friends, Louizon, Machete, Ria Menorca, Soulosophie, Swedish Stockings, Teixits Riera, Viva’s, Working in the Redwoods

3In their Zurich-based concept store A Simple Story, the sisters Ivana Herrmann and Andrea Lazic combine their claim to style and product sustainability - two aspects that are inseparable in their eyes. 5 The siblings Ivana Herrmann and Andrea Lazic have a demanding staff profile, even more so as em­ ployees need to cover all areas of the multi-channel store.


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Ivana Herrmann and Andrea Lazic: “We are an e-commerce business with a showroom in a trendy area of Zurich. As we are still in the early stages of our business, we need people that can take on several key roles. Besides providing service in the store, we require staff who have technical skills for an e-commerce platform, are well-versed in social media, and have knowledge regarding logistics and operations to ensure swift delivery of goods and services. Content drives sales in our business. Our audience needs to connect with and be inspired by our content and products. Much of our customer experience is rooted in social media, so traditional customer service skills have to be adapted to a digital environment. Emotional intelligence and communication skills are just as important as product knowledge.”


Kyoto, Copenhagen The Store is the Brand www.kyoto.dk Labels: among others Acne, APC, Andersen Andersen, Arrk, Axel Arigato, Colorful Standard, Dockers, Fred Perry, Libertine-Libertine, Maison Kitsuné, Nike, Our Legacy, Selected Femme, Selected Homme, Sportmax Code, Whyred

1 Kristian Ulriksen is aware of the high service standards his custom­ ers demand. He’s also aware that it hasn’t become easier to find employ­ ees who can satisfy them.

Kristian Ulriksen: “What kind of experience do I want to offer my customers? That’s the question I base my recruitment policy on. It’s all about knowledge, commitment, charisma, and good old gut feeling. Today’s competition is tough and working in a fashion store isn’t as popular as it may have been in the past. My advantage is my brand and the name I have made for myself within the industry. It makes it more interesting to work at Kyoto. But besides all that, I believe it is essential to involve employees as much as possible. It allows them to gain an understanding of what we are doing, thus becoming part of the journey.”

3 Part of the Kyoto family: Kristian Ulriksen allows his team to be part of the journey.

5 For his Kyoto store, Kristian Ulriksen seeks out people who stand out from the crowd and understand that the store itself is the brand.

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With two stores in London and Los Angeles, the Modern Society team focuses on an extraordinary brand mix.

Modern Society, Los Angeles Find a Good Cross-Section www.themodernsociety.com Labels: among others Alighieri, An Organised Life, Baserange, Beck Jewels, Carne Bollente, Casa Chiqui, Copson, De Castro Moda, Georgia Alice, Hai, La Soufflerie, Le Kasha 1981, Lou Dungate, Mars, Meneghini, Modern Society, Reliquia, Respiro Studio, Sandy Liang, Sleeper, Susan Alexandra, Terrapin Stationery, Trademark, Valet Studio Modern Society: “Our sales staff are integral to the smooth running and daily operation of Modern Society. We’re very lucky to have a cross-section of employees in both our London and LA stores, who have extensive knowledge about our selection of brands. Thus, they ensure precise customer communication.”


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Uebervart, Frankfurt If You Pay Peanuts, You Attract Monkeys www.uebervart.de Labels: among others A kind of guise, A.P.C., Acne Studios, Aspesi, Call me 917, Calvin Klein, Comme des Garcons, Chinatown Market, Escentric Molecule, Fucking Awesome, James Perse, Lacoste, Norse Projects, Oliver Spencer, Polo Ralph Lauren, Porter Yoshida, Soulland, Stone Island, The North Face, Uebervart Selected, YMC London Daniel Steindorf: “I wholeheartedly disagree with the all-encompassing lamentation within our industry. There are a lot of young, motivated people out there. However, it requires experience, investment, and a spot of luck to choose the right ones. Some of my employees were excellent in the beginning. I’m quite good at recognising the respective strengths of people. That allows us to emphasise these talents and be more successful together. It’s like with customers. If you have awesome, hot products, everybody wants them. So it’s up to me to make Uebervart attractive enough (inside and out) to ensure that people want to work for me. One more thing: if you pay peanuts, you attract monkeys. That’s also a decisive factor.”

7 Daniel Steindorf doesn’t agree with the whining about the lack of motivated young people for the fashion retail trade. 5 Daniel Steindorf’s Uebervart has be­ come an institution for upper casual and high fashion menswear. His concept is progressive and fast forward.

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Biffi Boutiques, Milan We Prefer Young People www.biffi.com Labels: among others Alanui, Alexander McQueen, Ambush, Bottega Veneta, Canada Goose, Chinti and Parker, Comme des Garcons, Diadora, Duro Olowu, Emilio Pucci, Fendi, Gianluca Capannolo, Golden Goose, Gucci, Hogan, J Brand, Lanvin, Loewe, Marc Jacobs, Marni, Moncler, Redemption, Rokha, Stella McCartney, Tod’s, Tommy Hilfiger, Tory Burch, Yuzefi Rosy Biffi: “Our company is a family business, which means that job interviews are conducted by family members. Alongside actual skills, an empathetic affinity is essential. We prefer hiring young candidates and invest in their training to allow them to grow within the company. Sometimes natural kindness, honesty, and a sincere can-do attitude count more than the acquired experience and skills.”

3 The founder and owner of Biffi Bou­ tiques, Rosy Biffi, prefers to conduct interviews herself. She focuses more on empathy and enthusiasm for fashion than on experience.


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1 High-quality menswear and made-tomeasure clothing are SBU’s specialities. This requires a deep knowledge of both brand and fashion on the part of the sales staff.


5 Patrizio and Cristiano Perfetti jointly manage the Strategic Business Unit store in Rome. It predominantly offers SBU’s own menswear brand

Strategic Business Unit, Rome One Needs Luck, Like in Love www.sbu.it Labels: among others Strategic Business Unit Cristiano Perfetti: “We prefer hiring young people who have no experience in the fashion industry, because we want to train them right from the start to familiarise them with the know-how and spirit at the heart of our brand. For the young generation, money is more important than the job. This approach makes it difficult to motivate them. For this reason, it is essential that more experienced colleagues and the owners lead by example. Professionalism, loyalty, honesty, and competence are not pure theory, but must be lived on location and gradually internalised.”

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13 The five-strong Leeda team in Prague has known each other for a long time. Eras­ mus students and interns help out regularly. 5 Lucie Kutalkova believes that customer proximity is just as important as employees capable of taking personal responsibility. The first employee she hired after launching the store in 2003 is now store and brand manager.

Leeda, Prague Erasmus & Co www.leeda.cz Labels: Leeda Lucie Kutalkova: “Leeda is a well-known brand in the Czech Republic and that helps a lot. We cooperate with the Erasmus programme for foreign students and hire at least one intern per year. We also offer short internships for high school students. We remain in touch with the most skilled and dedicated ones and cooperate with them on a long term basis. However, it’s hard for us to find skilled and reliable tailors. Fortunately, there is an Academy of Arts Architecture & Design in Prague. The fashion design students are usually keen on opportunities that allow them to gain some experience in building a fashion brand. And because we are such a small team, we can provide them with valuable insights. A personal approach to both customers and sales assistants is important to me.”


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More is Love, Tbilisi Trilingual Customer Care www.moreislove.com Labels: among others 0711, 22 11, Alix, Anna October, Annie Costello Brown, Anouki, Assel, Balmain, By Far, Copine Jewellery, Crystalline, Cult Gaia, Dalood, Edeline Lee, Eshvi, Evarae, Fella, Flow the Label, Foreo, Gatineau, Gaviria, Hansel from Basel, Ingorokva, Isa Arfen, Khaite, Kimhekim, Lalo x 0711, Le Mocassion Zippé, Le Monde Beryl, Masterpeace & J.Kim, Niomo, Roberti & Fraud, So Pure, Solid & Striped, Walk of Shame, Wonder me Nino Eliava and Ana Mokia: “As our company is quite young and has talented staff, we do receive numerous requests for sales positions. Normally we would, however, only recruit staff on management level. A store is always as good as the people working in it. The atmosphere created by the salespeople in the store has a direct effect on sales. Customer care is our priority, as it drives revenue and promotes customer loyalty. The staff’s product knowledge is the foundation for a relationship of trust. In Tbilisi it may not be very difficult to find skilled employees, but the fact that we require talent capable of providing high-quality, trilingual customer care makes finding the right candidate for the job harder than usual.”

7 Nino Eliava and Ana Mokia jointly founded the boutique More is Love in Tbilisi. In Georgia’s capital, the big challenge is to find trilingual employees.

5 In their More is Love store in Tbilisi, owners Nino Eliava and Ana Mokia have noticed that an increasing number of salespeople are pushing for managerial roles.

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Rezet Store, Copenhagen At Least 100 Applications www.rezetstore.dk Labels: Adidas, Asics, Fila, Filling Pieces, H20 Sportswear, Han Kjobehavn, Helly Hansen, Hi-Tec, Jason Markk, Jordan, Laerke Andersen, Newline Halo, New Balance, Nike, Puma, Reebok, Retro Super Future, SneakersER, Soulland, The North Face, Wood Wood, Zanerobe Kasper Mølgaard-Nielsen: “We have a very strong brand within the sneaker scene in Denmark. And since many younger people are into sneakers, we are lucky enough to receive many applications for open positions. We don’t think too much about employee branding, but we do use SoMe as a platform for our staff. We usually receive at least 100 applications when we post a job in one of our stores. Our Aarhus store has been around for 3.5 years. The team is almost unchanged from when we opened up. I think that’s quite unique and it’s something we’re incredibly proud of. They set an example for others. Luckily, almost all our employees are really nerdy sneaker aficionados. Given the importance of the social environment, we encourage our store managers to organise social events as often as possible. They’re really good at it too.”


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7 Kasper Møl­ gaard-Nielsen places sales skills above expertise. His search never focuses on sales talents who happen to be sneaker nerds, but on people who fit into the Rezet universe. 5 With two stores in Copenhagen, one in Aarhus, and one in Odense, Rezet has become a sneaker in­ stitution in Denmark. Employees are pri­ marily recruited from within the sneaker scene, which is an invaluable asset for the brand.

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1 Matteo Querini believes he is un­ usually fortunate to have employees with whom he has been working together right from the start. As a matter of principle, he invites appli­ cants to work trials. 75 Studioteca of Florence opened its doors to the public on the 1st of March 2019, after a comprehensive renovation overseen by Matteo Querini.

Studioteca, Florence Always on the Lookout www.studioteca.com Labels: Attic & Barn, Bastah Florence, Hay, Humility, Isabella Clementini, La Paz, Nice Things, Suncoo Paris u. a. Matteo Querini: “I had the luck to find people who still work with me in a private context. That’s quite unusual, in a way. It’s important to me that employees know how to adapt, in every kind of situation. It’s obviously important to conduct a formal interview, but it’s equally important to observe people in other contexts. What I care about is the approach candidates take in terms of customers and products, which is why I invite them to visit the store for a trial of sorts. That’s why it’s vital to remain on the lookout, always.”

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13 The brand world of Luis Trenker is extremely authentic. “It’s too special for superficial employees,” Michi Klemera argues.

Luis Trenker, Salzburg Too Special for Superficiality www.luistrenker.com Labels: Luis Trenker Michi Klemera: “We try to find the perfect employees for our own brand world. We attach great importance to our personnel being brand ambassadors. The Luis Trenker brand is simply too special for superficial employees. We don’t always succeed in finding young sales talents, but everyone we hire is dynamic and committed. Yes, I agree with our industry’s complaints about how hard it is to find new talent. I’m not really surprised. The sales profession isn’t perceived as cool enough. In addition, Saturdays are the most important days in terms of sales, which is - let’s face it - demotivating compared to the opportunities the market and the media highlight and describe. Everything sounds great and simple. Who wouldn’t like to sit in the front office and dream about fantastic salaries with little responsibility and time expenditure? I certainly would!”


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5 Michi Klemera’s (in the center) new Luis Trenker store in Salzburg enjoys a prime location. However, such a prominent address doesn’t make the challenge of finding the right employ­ ees easier.

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“SEEK AND YOU SHALL FIND” Lamberto Losani Cashmere is an exception in the sense that it produces exclusively in Italy. Lamberto Losani himself sat down with us for an interview to reflect on why Mongolian cashmere can be turned into an Italian product and how the craft can be prepared for the future. Text: Martina Müllner-Seybold. Photos: Lamberto Losani Cashmere

You promise 100 percent “Made in Italy”. How difficult is it to find skilled production workers in Italy? Looking ahead to the next 100 years, we have recently started training skilled workers, who are becoming increasingly difficult to find. There’s a proverb that says: “Seek and you shall find.” However, one needs to add something very important to that particular adage. Those who have found, must understand how to encourage. One needs to search proactively, identify talents, and learn how to develop them with professionalism and passion. Manufacturing in Italy not only results in high quality levels, but also allows you to react flexibly to customer demands. You offer all pieces in many colours, retailers can reorder items, and you are capable of producing small batches. Is this the secret of your success? The term “Made in Italy” encompasses so much: the people, the environment, the culture of diversity. I could add to the list infinitely, but that would go beyond the scope of this interview. Just consider coffee, for example. Like cashmere, it’s not an original Italian product. It’s also a product that is in demand in many different forms, which requires creativity in manufacturing and expertise in production - both typical Italian qualities. Flexibility is the foundation of all these processes, and therefore we can proudly claim that flexibility is a contributor to our success. What steps would you take to help companies like yours if you found yourself at the helm of your government or the EU for a year? Whoa, that’s a big question! First and foremost, I would label companies like us, which really manufacture everything exclusively in Italy, differently. I would make such businesses distinguishable from those who merely cobble something together here in Italy utilising materials sourced from all over the place. Fortunately, customers are increasingly aware of what they’re buying, especially in terms of premium and luxury products. Sustainability has become a talking point. It’s a highly valid factor that needs to become more comprehensible. Nevertheless, all companies that produce in Italy are important for the country to ensure diversity. People would no longer implement manual labour, which is the heartbeat of our craftsmanship and manufactory heritage. This would

Lamberto Losani vouches for finest knitwear, processed exclusively in Italy, with his name.

Lamberto Losani Cashmere is visionary in the sense that it has adapted to changing clothing realities.

limit Italians to working digitally or merely pushing goods around in warehouses. This would be the death of our special talents and cause our human skills to wither. In our opinion, “Made in Italy” should describe a product that has been processed here to one hundred percent. This is, of course, a bottomless pit, as proven by the discussions that have flared up about icons of Italian production. The Parmigiano Reggiano is but one example. Implementing new rules for what is “Made in Italy” - and what’s not - is highly political! In Lamberto Losani’s case, it’s “D&D in Italy”, meaning “Designed & Done in Italy”. Your pre-collection is hugely successful. Tell us more about it… Yes. With its 40 percent contribution to revenue, it has proven very successful and we are keen to expand it further. The next pre-collection for S/S 2020 will be very ambitious. We are sure that it will be yet another great success. The new Lamberto Losani style is a hot topic. Why did you decide to change so much? Because we have an answer to changing lifestyles. This change also manifests itself in the wardrobe. www.lambertolosani.com style in progress



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Skilled workers are in short supply. To summarise the problem in short: the old are retiring, while the young show little interest in these professions. Why today’s battle for talent must be fought by other means.

Oliver Schneider is Managing Partner at TFE Recruitment Experts alongside working as a trainer and consultant. “Skilled workers are scarce, which is why they are increasingly sought after by external personnel consultants,” the expert explains.

Text: Ina Köhler, Martina Müllner-Seybold, Kay Alexander Plonka, Nicoletta Schaper. Photos: Interviewees


Digital Vocational School Textilakademie Mönchengladbach, which opened in autumn 2018, sets new standards in commercial-technical vocational training. It bundles the vocational education for pupils from eight federal states at one location and is regarded as one of the most modern educational institutions in Germany. Content is communicated via smartboards and a cloud-based learning environment. Every student is supplied with a notebook during block seminars. “We pursue the topic of digitisation on three levels: infrastructure equipment, teachers and their didactics, and education of the trainees,” says Managing Director Detlef Braun. The associations of the Rhineland and Northwest German textile and clothing industries have invested 20 million Euros in the project. The new campus is located in the immediate vicinity of the Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences, whose workshops can be used by the trainees. “The textile industry has undergone decades of structural change with all its negative consequences,” Braun explains. “We need to upgrade our image, especially with regard to skilled workers. Essential factors include the quality of education and access to good vocational training.” Mönchengladbach is a shining example. In the future, the institution will offer more advanced training courses, as well as technician and master classes. It is also planning the construction of a new guesthouse. Photo: Textilakademie NRW gGmbH


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Classic recruiting measures are mostly ineffective in empty labour markets. Oliver Schneider, Managing Partner at TFE Recruitment Experts, explains why sought-after specialists need to be addressed like executive managers. An Executive Search for skilled labour - isn’t that a bit expensive? Isn’t it much more expensive not to be able to fill a specialist position or to fill it poorly? After all, skilled workers are in such high demand because they hold key positions in companies. You simply can’t afford to save on these positions - and that should be reflected in the search. Think about how much time has often already been spent addressing specialists in the classic way - via advertisements and such before turning to external professionals. Your own personnel department doesn’t work for free! And don’t forget that the reputation within the industry suffers when everyone else knows that a company can’t find people for months... Are today’s specialists spoiled? No, I wouldn’t say that. I experience most of them as diligent and so involved in their companies that they don’t even read job advertisements. When we call, most people tell us that they are in an active employment relationship. A few days later, however, many come back and ask whether we can talk. Only an external consultant can offer this level of confidentiality. As company X, you simply cannot call the skilled workers of your competitor. How acute is the shortage of skilled workers and what do these people value? In segments with a structural shortage of skilled workers, the only way to achieve success is the direct approach via the employer or a personnel service provider. There simply aren’t any people on the market. So-called soft factors are becoming increasingly important decision criteria. The salary isn’t all-decisive. Modern company and management structures are a must, not only for so-called Young Professionals.

Henrike Machelett, Head of Human Resources at Marc Cain, knows that the battle for new talent is raging. That’s why companies have to fight for the best applicants.


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Henrike Machelett, how do you recruit new talent for your company? As a fashion company with deeply embedded product development and manufacturing departments, we generally have at least 70 job applications at the same time - for a wide variety of areas and professions. We offer six training occupations and employ approx. 30 trainees. Overall, we tend to be more active in terms of approaching applicants. The classic procedure of ad placements is no longer sufficient in a narrow recruitment market with virtually full employment. In the area of training, we have enjoyed success with our own trade fair platforms; we train educational ambassadors, visit schools, and advertise on our homepage. In terms of professionals, we have been present on the most influential “Active Sourcing” channels for quite some time. Digitisation offers many exciting possibilities in this respect. Have the demands of the younger generation on their employers changed? The wishes of younger generations regarding their respective professions are not much different today than they were in the past. It’s all about finding an exciting task, in which one can utilise strengths in a creative way and recognise one’s contribution to success, receive appreciation for one’s work, and perceive oneself as part of a team. However, self-realisation in the private sphere is a much higher priority today, which means that all benefits that allow more flexible work in terms of time or space are highly welcome.


The market lacks skilled workers. Are you experiencing a shortage of students? Robert Groten, Professor of Textile and Clothing Technology, University of Applied Sciences Niederrhein: No. We welcome approx. 350 new students per semester. In winter 2017, we had no less than 2,000 students from 57 nations. Our university is the oldest institution for textile studies and the largest in Europe. We also cooperate very closely with textile companies and are allowed to conduct further research. This makes us appealing to prospective students. How do students find out about your university? We regularly invite schools, for example. We recently hosted our Boy’s Day. Most people aren’t aware of how technology-oriented our courses are! That’s why a tour through our large laboratories is a real “aha experience” for our visitors. What about after graduation? Many graduates opt for the buying and sales departments of fashion companies, mainly because businesses require specialist knowledge in those areas. Others join the textile processing industry. Textiles are omnipresent today: from a closable stadium roof to the shell of an aircraft. So-called Smart Textiles open up another exciting field, as does sustainability. We cooperate with the Centre for Textile Logistic, which develops recyclable materials for the packaging of cars and trucks, equipped with an electronic warning system that is triggered when vehicles threaten to slide off the trailer. This is just one example of the many interdisciplinary job opportunities outside the clothing industry. 90 percent of our graduates are employed within three months after leaving, both in Germany and throughout Europe. That’s an excellent quota! At which starting salary and what are their opportunities for advancement? Salaries start at 3,000 to 3,500 Euros. For prospective managers, we recommend our master’s degree, studying in English, or a doctorate. We currently have eleven doctoral candidates, for whom we cooperate with partner universities. www.hs-niederrhein.de

“We impart product knowhow with business con­ tent,” says Manfred Mroz, the Managing Director Marketing & Finances at Academy LDT Nagold.

“We cooperate very closely with textile companies and are allowed to conduct fur­ ther research,” says Robert Groten, Professor of Textile and Clothing Technology at the University of Applied Sciences Niederrhein.

How do you create interest in your academy? Manfred Mroz, Managing Director Marketing & Finances at Academy LDT Nagold: For example with our lookbook on ldt.de, in which 60 graduates share their career paths. We also bring this brochure to the 15 vocational fairs we attend throughout Germany. The interest in our stand is always high! How acute is the shortage of skilled workers? Very acute. But the market is primarily looking for soldiers, not chieftains. The retail sector in particular needs junior staff who are willing to work in a customer-oriented manner. Key word product management… There is definitely a shortage of skilled workers in this area. Large retail chains need product managers rather than designers for the production of their own labels. Everybody is eager to design, yet the companies only need one designer. However, they need many employees for everything else from buying to sales. How many students do you have? Currently we have approx. 400. We wouldn’t mind having 500, but we depend on companies in terms of dual studies. Many of them are cautious due to the tense market environment. Which career paths are possible? Immediately after graduation, assistant jobs in buying, sales, or product management are the most likely. 85 percent of them are in Germany. Initial salaries of 30,000 Euros per year can quickly rise significantly, especially in the sales domain. The great career opportunities are proven by the long list of Nagold graduates in leading positions: Werner Böck, Andreas Baumgärtner, Sabine Märtens, and Thorsten Stiebing. www.ldt.de

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WORK FACILITATES INTEGRATION A shortage of skilled workers has created a massive void in what remains of European textile production. The idea that domestic staff might return to the sewing and knitting machines, or even production lines in general, is so unrealistic that even the most brazen right-wingers shy away from propagating it. It is an undeniable fact that foreigners did not take these jobs away from locals. Domestic workers have no interest in taking them. And this was the case long before the so-called Gen Z appeared on the scene. Even the very first wave of migrant workers was based on demand. The fact that this generation of skilled workers is now fast approaching retirement age presents European textile companies with yet another major challenge. Given that the term “welcoming culture” has been twisted into an insult, businesses are struggling particularly hard to find and retain all-important specialists. Even though statistical data proves that employment is the best form of integration, political agendas do not seem to include the support of companies or the permanent integration of foreign skilled workers. Hats off to those businesses who make an effort anyway.


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“IT HAS TO WORK” Ann-Kathrin Carstensen, with her jewellery label Rita in Palma and her foundation Von Meisterhand e.V., embodies a very special brand of integration endeavour. In deepest Neukölln, she and her team transform finest knotting techniques into couture. Text: Martina Müllner-Seybold. Photos: Rita in Palma

Rita in Palma is not merely another label launched by a young designer. You even received a special award for integration efforts from the German chancellor as part of the Startsocial campaign. How did this come about? After completing my fashion design studies in 2011, it didn’t take me long to figure out that I would like to use Rita in Palma to make craftsmanship, which is an integral part of Turkish culture, visible and valued. I was forced to convince many people of my idea and got deeply involved in Turkish culture before I was able to assemble my first team. I contributed too by taking a Turkish language course, for example. I learned a lot during that time. I had to integrate myself first. Launching a fashion start-up and a charitable association sounds like a lot of work… It was a lot of work, and it still is today. I was a one-woman show for many years before a private donor backed me by financing a part-time employee. I probably didn’t sell as many


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Crocheting couture instead of trousseau: jewellery label Rita in Palma, as well as its affiliated association Von Meisterhand e.V., place the traditional craftsmanship of Turkish women in a fashionable context.

necklaces as I could have, because I spent many long hours sitting in the immigration offices. It’s a constant balancing act and my to-do list is infinite. But it has to work, not least because of my women. Germany has never shown an interest in the women who came with the migrant workers. They have raised children who are usually excellently integrated and have great careers. But these mothers lose their right to stay when their children leave home. I am paraphrasing of course, but the legislator basically says that you must leave if you receive social benefits, are considered to be unemployable, and don’t speak German. Working at Rita in Palma and Von Meisterhand e.V. is so much more than just a lifeline for these women. Yes. They come here, exchange ideas, and learn German. It’s textbook empowerment. My Turkish crochet queens, as I call them affectionately, now train women from other countries of origin, currently from Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan, and Kosovo. Work gives them and their craft dignity and a sense of self-worth. This is particularly important to me, because female cultural techniques often don’t have any monetary value. Cobblers and bag makers, which are classic male professionals, receive monetary recognition, but we still have to convince people that artistic crochet lace, or our crocheted pearl accessories, are just as valuable. A hand-crafted collier that took 40 hours to make is allowed to be expensive!

A fighter through and through: Ann-Kathrin Carstensen invests an unbelievable amount of energy in an integration project close to her heart.

In the meantime, the women who were part of the project right from the start are passing the craft on to others. This is an immensely important milestone for our organisation. My declared goal is to create a couture workshop of world renown here in Neukölln. I want it to work for the major fashion houses. These women are gifted. They are a unique treasure. The organisation and the label currently employ 13 women. We attach great importance to ensuring that the work is compatible with the women’s life circumstances. If a woman still has six children to take care of, she can only manage five colliers a month. The most important aspect is that women are respected for their work - by us, by their families, by the state, and by our customers. www.ritainpalma.com style in progress



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GROWTH THROUGH INTEGRATION Outdoor specialist Vaude sets ecological and social standards. The family business employs approx. 500 people at its headquarters in Tettnang in southern Germany. Antje von Dewitz, the Managing Director of Vaude, strongly believes that environmentally friendly products from fair production are just as important as the well-being of the staff. Since 2016, Vaude has awarded eleven permanent positions, one traineeship, and numerous internships to refugees. The company is politically committed to the right of displaced persons to remain in employment and training. Text: Kay Alexander Plonka. Photo: Vaude

As a member of the German economic initiative “We Together” and the network “Businesses Integrate Refugees”, you have established connections with 120 other companies. In addition, you have launched the entrepreneur initiative “Right of Residence through Work” in cooperation with the Härle brewery. More than 150 companies from all over Germany have already joined. What are your demands for a new immigration law and for the implementation of the government’s position paper on the creation of a right of residence for integrated and employed refugees? We need an immigration law that not only takes skilled workers, as defined by Germany’s dual vocational training occupations or university degrees, into account, but also those occupational profiles that are actually required by the economy. The latter include, among others, factory workers, truck drivers, forklift drivers, cleaning staff, and caregivers. These jobs are, as a rule, semi-skilled and don’t have - or don’t need - qualified training.

Antje von Dewitz and Vaude received the LEA Mit­ telstandspreis 2017 for social responsibility from the Ministry of Economics Baden-Württemberg and were awarded the Demographics Excellence Award 2017 in the category “Foreign & Domestic” for their commitment to refugees.

We need a right of residence for semi-skilled refugees who have already been integrated into the labour market at great expense and who make a valuable contribution to German SMEs, making it possible for products and services to be manufactured and provided in Germany. The draft law on employment acquiescence is not sufficient. It covers people who have been acquiesced for 12 months. However, many refugees who entered Germany in 2015/16 are still in the process of obtaining acquiescence or only recently obtained it.

“Our refugee employees are an enrichment for the company,” says Antje von Dewitz.


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What economic damage would the deportation of refugee workers cause and how great is the demand for labour? If we were to lose our colleagues who work in the manufactory, we would suffer a loss of production and sales in the range of 250,000 Euros. And we are by no means an isolated case. A number of companies throughout Germany have been thrown into crises, even existential in nature in some cases, due to a loss of employees. We are also not an isolated case in terms of labour demand. Businesses of all sizes from various industries, such as production, logistics, catering, and healthcare, can hardly meet operational requirements due to a lack of lorry drivers, forklift drivers, cleaning staff, factory workers, and caregivers. Continuous growth requires more staff. Let’s take the Lake Constance/Upper Swabia region, where we are headquartered, as an example. More than 60% of companies have trouble filling vacant positions, especially as an unemployment rate of 2.5% equals full employment. The IHK Economy Report from autumn 2018 states: “One in three companies is hoping for skilled workers from abroad, while one in five is trying to recruit refugees. However, one in ten companies also states that, due to a shortage of skilled workers, it is planning to relocate activities abroad, or proposing that production and services are to be restricted or at least not expanded.”

You claim that the economy can benefit greatly in the long term as long as we work together to give displaced persons a perspective. How does the integration process at Vaude work in practice? Integration into the labour market is not a walk in the park. It’s arduous, time-consuming, requires commitment, and often nerve-wracking. One needs to overcome a lack of German language skills, assist people in finding a place to live, and help them navigate the administrative jungle. Integration can only succeed if many people in the respective company commit to it and put in an effort. But it’s all worth it; it offers added value for all involved parties. We are immensely proud of how this has been proven repeatedly by our company. Our refugees have developed into fully-fledged, highly committed, and motivated employees. Most importantly, they are valued colleagues. They enrich our company and we can no longer imagine life without them. www.unternehmer-initiative.com, www.vaude.com

“WE ARE AMONG THE LAST REMAINING” Austrian knitwear label Phil Petter manufactures its products in Dornbirn. What customers perceive as a convincing selling point, is a constant challenge for Managing Director Anja Grabherr-Petter. As one of the last remaining textile companies, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find skilled workers. Text: Martina Müllner-Seybold. Photos: Phil Petter

How difficult is it for you to find the skilled workers you require? Vorarlberg is a region with a rich textile heritage, but as one of the many companies that once existed here, we are among the last to remain. The “Made in Austria” aspect is as important to our customers as it is to us, so we intend to retain it. However, it is becoming increasingly complex to replace retired employees. The local textile college has discontinued the training of manufacturing professions. It now focuses solely on engineers, textile managers, and designers. There was no demand for the other professions. Young people obviously have no interest in such careers anymore. Are foreign workers helping to fill this gap? Yes. Vorarlberg benefitted from the first wave of migrant workers in the 1970s. These craft trades require extreme dexterity. Our seamstresses cannot be compared to conventional seamstresses. Sewing knitwear and jersey materials is much more complicated and requires finesse. Many women of Turkish origin, for example, were outstanding contributors to our success. It was ideal for them that we primarily offered part-time positions. But this generation is now reaching retirement age. You now also employ refugees… Yes. We have two Syrians and one Afghan employee in our company. This is a new experience for us, because this kind of work was mostly performed by women until now. We

Anja Grabherr-Petter describes finding new talent as a great challenge.

cooperate closely with Caritas in this respect. Caritas placed these colleagues with us and advises us in terms of residence permits and refugee status. This is all very complex. Our personnel manager now needs to be well-versed in many different areas. Do you have any hope that these workers will be allowed to stay with you permanently? Our Afghan colleague will be forced to return home as soon as the region he comes from is declared safe. If that happens, I don’t see how it could be averted. www.philpetter.com style in progress



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2 DEVELOPING PEOPLE DEVELOPING Does every employee have high potential? In order to perform optimally, every individual needs to be challenged, encouraged, developed, and trained. Then the skill is to loosen the leash sufficiently to ensure a healthy balance between freedom and commitment.


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IN THE THICK OF THINGS A new generation of employees makes different demands on their employers - benefits and codetermination are more important than wages and titles. The fashion trade offers exactly this opportunity. style in progress asked retailers to share their recipes for success. Text: Martina Müllner-Seybold, Kay Alexander Plonka, Nicoletta Schaper, Joachim Schirrmacher. Photos: Interviewees and stores

Lars Holzbrecher is Operations Man­ ager. He works for, at, and with Soto Store in Berlin.




ll employees actively supported the craftsmen during the conversion. It felt a bit like a shared flat was being turned into a new home,” laughs Lars Holzbrecher, Operations Manager at Soto Store. Together with Dutch designer Johannes Offerhaus, he created a completely new shopping experience. Offerhaus designed all elements such as furniture, product carriers, and lighting system, which were then manufactured by befriended boat builders and neighbouring exhibition stand builders. On a sales area of around 100 square metres, the customers’ senses are stimulated by slow colour changes in the lighting and by movement in the presentation. Among the highlights is a rotating shoe wall that offers space for 240 models and affords customers the opportunity to view the shoes of various brands while they move past them vertically. Conical furniture, various shelves, and custom-made displays present labels like Acne Studios, Marni, OAMC, Our Legacy, Undercover, and many more. Works by several Berlin artists, such as currently those of Annabell Häfner and Johannes Bosisio, round off the staging of the new store’s differentiated customer approach. “With one click, we can switch the store from day to night mode and thus to a completely different customer experience. The transformative lighting system of our lighting designer Stefan Damnig offers different colour themes and moods to accompany the individual items of different brands, events, or product presentations in terms of lighting technology,” explains Lars Holzbrecher.

Retail as an experience: Soto Store was not cre­ ated by retail designers, but by its staff. It’s no surprise that everyone chipped in during the 14-day conversion.

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mbros Strolz, Managing Director of Strolz in Lech: “Young people like working for us, because they can combine their job at Strolz with skiing. Our work focuses on the season; the atmosphere in our company is deliberately less restrictive than elsewhere. Team spirit is paramount, which is why we don’t offer individual bonuses. We have no interest in sales hyenas! This means that we provide sensible accommodation, provide our employees with apples and fresh coffee, and offer meal vouchers for the restaurant. It’s not what you say, but how you say it! Our four apprentices value this pleasant working environment. It may be a rude awakening for some, because exhausting seasonal work doesn’t allow much leisure time. However, I am often told that the atmosphere within the company is more important to our employees than the salary. The fact that 80 percent of them return to us every year speaks for itself. That’s a high percentage for a seasonal business.”

Ambros Strolz is committed to creating a delib­ erately relaxed atmosphere.

The pleasant working atmosphere at Strolz contributes to the customers’ holiday spirit.


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L&T’s employees form a formidable team.



Daniel Wessel is eager to instil flexibility and com­ munication in new talent.


aniel Wessel, Head of HR at L&T: “The fashion retail trade requires a high degree of flexibility, which we encourage proactively. An excellent fashion consultant needs to be able to establish a connection with customers instantly, to read sizes, and to determine dress styles. What’s important to the customers? What do they pay attention to? Is the customer shy, meaning the consultant has to build trust? How does one react to dominant customers? In addition to the classical virtues, we also address communication in spontaneity training. The WhatsApp generation isn’t necessarily known for being embellished storytellers. Our apprentices switch departments every six months, from the sports department to the women’s department for instance. Active involvement is a major factor in terms of trainee retention. That’s why we allow them to develop smaller projects, for example how one could expand our club customer database. This approach results in some very exciting solutions! For those keen to become team leaders, we finance a one-year business administrator course at LDT Nagold. We have learned to guide our trainees strictly and to establish a mutual feedback culture. The results are incredible. Once the trainees find that accelerator, they put the pedal to the metal.” style in progress



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The anniversary campaign reflects the female power that drives the store in Hohenems. It shows Stefanie (3rd from left) and Inge Walser (5th from left) surrounded by their sales team.



Stefanie Walser, the owner of Mode Walser in Hohenems, knows how valuable her employees are.


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tefanie Walser, owner of Mode Walser Hohenems: “We are celebrating our 100th anniversary this year and have decided to mark the occasion by launching a very special campaign. It shows my mother and me surrounded by our employees. This photo shooting was a wonderful and intense experience for all of us. We shot four motifs in seasonal and colour-coordinated outfits. The photographer came all the way from Vienna and we hired a professional stylist. It was the first time our employees saw how much effort goes into such a shooting. The result proves that it was totally worth it! I am proud of our team spirit and the female power that is so tangible in the pictures. We are very fortunate to have many long-standing employees. They know their customers and maintain relationships with them. We are aware of how valuable these women are. It was important to us to reflect this appreciation in the campaign. We always give a lot of thought to how we can create an environment that ensures employees stay with us for a long time. Finding new staff is, after all, a huge challenge. Especially when you already have a great team that sets such high standards…”

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nès de la Fressange, Tom Ford, Rick Owens, and Donatella Versace made Diptyque a “benchmark for scented candles”, as Guilhem Rousseau of Française de Bougies told Le Figaro. His manufactory produces candles for Diptyque, as does his competitor Hypsipyle. The store on Berlin’s Kurfürstendamm not only impresses with Art-Deco interior, but also employs an excellent team: friendly, unobtrusive, and competent. “The founders taught us to welcome customers as guests, to share the Diptyque story. If they decide not to buy anything, the most important thing is to maintain a relationship. They’ll come back one day,” says Fabienne Mauny, who worked for Yves Saint Laurent for 20 years. She has been running Diptyque since 2007, after William Fisher, the son of the founders of fashion house GAP and the conglomerate’s current director, acquired the company. A longing for special and authentic items allows niche brands such as Diptyque to thrive. The business employs 150 people worldwide, 70 of whom work at the headquarters in Paris. “We’ve been growing at a rate between 20 and 25 percent for many years,” Mauny points out. According to US trade magazine WWD, Dipytque generated a turnover of 10 million US Dollars in 2006. Estimates suggest that this figure has since risen to 80 million Euros.

Rare in the world of global brands: Diptyque believes the customer always comes first.

Diptyque perceives customers as guests who have every right to come and marvel at items without buying anything.

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Alexander Petrskovsky be­ lieves in creating an environment that allows train­ ees to flourish.




Kastner & Öhler bildet jährlich über 30 Lehrlinge für den Verkaufsberuf aus.


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lexander Petrskovsky, Chairman of Kastner & Öhler: “We rely heavily on our apprentices! That’s why we train them thoroughly with a strong focus on personality development. Young people between the ages of 15 and 17 often lack a suitable contact person. They may think their parents are moronic, harbour no faith in religion, and have zero interest in their siblings. It is our duty to develop the character of our trainees. We expect our managers to create an environment that encourages such development. They need to be aware of how much influence they have on the performance of trainees. A different challenge is to find the right position for employees. We often experience that the right placement allows average employees to blossom into top salespeople! Furthermore, we encourage staff to think outside the box in terms of sales talks. It’s great when the approach suits a certain customer or situation! Our salespeople feel that they’re contributing significantly to our success. We implemented a bonus programme four years ago and it has proved highly successful. It increases the motivation of our top salespeople immensely.”

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Lifelong learning, development, and education: training is a priority for companies. Today, the curriculums of fashion studies range from textile science to e-commerce expertise.

“HANDS-ON JUST WORKS BETTER ON-SITE” Holger Wellner is not only the owner of Modehaus Wellner in Hameln, but also the founder of Modehaus.de, a digitisation network for fashion houses in which Katag AG recently invested. Now an academy for Modehaus.de has been launched – with ambitious plans. Text: Martina Müllner-Seybold. Photos: Modehaus Wellner

Mr Wellner, with Modehaus.de you have created an innovative network that offers affiliated houses solutions for many questions pertaining to digitisation, including an easily adaptable web shop. Now you have launched the Modehaus.de Academy with on-site training courses in your premises in Hameln. Isn’t this a contradiction in terms of digitisation? No. Basically, Modehaus.de is driven by the idea that everything we do in the digital sphere should support and strengthen brick-and-mortar operations. This includes digital shelf extensions, modern marketing, and even a web shop solution that is precisely tailored to the needs of our retailers. The latter is, however, developed and operated together. We strive to educate our members on digitisation and organise weekly webinars - and yet our telephones in Hameln won’t stop ringing. So far, we’ve always invited the callers to come over and explained how to use the tools on-site. This is, of course, especially fascinating, as we can demonstrate tools such as the digital shelf extension directly at the POS. With our academy, we have created the space to meet this need for training and education systematically.

The strength lies in cooperation: Holger Wellner of Modehaus Wellner is a founding member of Mode­ haus.de. Together with comparable fashion houses throughout Germany, the network intends to master the challenges of digitisation.

What’s the plan? We have defined six major topics on which we want to train and educate, all challenges in the context of digitisation. They range from digital communication to web shop management. The training courses are aimed at employees, executives, or entrepreneurs and take various skill levels into account. The aim is to ultimately offer approx. 40 courses. We have started with the five topics that seemed most relevant to us. Are the courses open to everyone? No, we quite deliberately limit access to Modehaus.de partners. The joint organisation of training and further education is one of the many arguments in favour of joining the network. www.modehaus.de

Dan Pearlman’s Dan Academy strives to make experts and their expertise accessible.

Dan Pearlman Group EXPERTISE Retail consultant Dan Pearlman focuses on advanced training. In masterclasses, which are organised in cooperation with Playframe, he passes on his knowledge about corporate transformation. The five modules are intended for people in mid-level management. In addition, the Dan Academy offers lectures and socalled consulting hours. The latter are a Q&A session with experts on various topics. www.danacademy.com style in progress



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HUNTING FOR CUSTOMERS? As much as possible, as long as possible. Are extended opening hours the ideal way to draw customers into the shop? Where can resources be saved, and where does it make sense to give everything? These retailers have found individual answers to these questions. Text: Nicoletta Schaper. Photos: Interviewees

COST VS BENEFIT – AND EMPLOYEE MOTIVATION Longer opening hours are offset by high costs and the fact that employees want more free time, preferably on Saturdays - the day on which we generate more than 30 percent of our weekly turnover! But it doesn’t make much sense to remain open longer if no one comes. All our branches are open from 9.30am to 7pm, but we’re considering opening at 10am because that’s the time most customers turn up. The exception remains Memmingen, because customers in rural areas tend to buy early, especially on market days. Having said that, they don’t want to go to the shops after 6pm. Our Ulm branch, on the other hand, still boasts high customer traffic after 7pm, which is why we are considering remaining open until 8pm, the same as neighbouring stores such as Wöhrl and P&C. Opening on Sunday is not an issue for us, whereas evening events have become more important, especially in our larger branches. To this end, we would like to remain open for our customers after 8pm in Bavaria too, not only in Baden-Württemberg. We definitely need more leeway from the legislator in this respect! Our employees love working during the events, because there’s a lot going on and because we enjoy being hosts. How do I maintain morale and how do I, as an employer, ensure that my employees are motivated? When it comes to opening hours, effectiveness should not merely be measured in figures.” Bernd Deuter, Head of Marketing at Reischmann


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I OFFER FULL SERVICE! Ever since I started my own business, I have been working directly with customers on a very personal level, which is extremely challenging. I have optimised the opening hours for myself. I’m in the shop from Monday to Saturday from 10am to 1.30pm and enjoy the active support of my employee. In the afternoon I merely have fixed customer appointments, take care of office duties, and curate my social media channels. The customers appreciate my store all the more and are happy to accept my schedule. They know that I offer them personal, all-round service. My advantage is that my clients can manage their time flexibly. If most of my customers were fulltime workers, or if I was in the price segment below that of my business, my concept would probably not work that way. I firmly believe that small stores in the upmarket price segment with extensive service have a great future - and that they would benefit greatly from making themselves a little scarcer, because everything that is permanently available quickly loses its appeal.”

These discussions usually revolve around remaining open longer to face online competition. That would mean we’d have to be open 24h per day and on Sunday too. We prefer to buck the trend. Since February, our Frauenzimmer store remains closed on Mondays. We plan to do the same at all three Stulz stores from autumn onwards. It’s a logical consequence of the fact that we generate a lot of customer traffic on weekends, which is very challenging indeed. On Mondays, on the other hand, we merely stand around idly. We strive to give customers time when they have time for us! That’s probably why our evening events are so popular. We use Mondays for leisure time, administrative duties, and creative processes. However, we are debating whether it is a good decision to close three stores in the pedestrian zone at the same time, even though the other store concepts cannot be compared with ours. In a small town the solution can - and must be - individual, even if it makes some people unhappy.”

Thomas Wartner, Managing Director of Stulz – Mode: Genuss: Leben

Martina Meier, Managing Partner of Max Laurenz/Wiener Neustadt

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3 LEADING PEOPLE LEADING Be a role model! Leaders in the fashion industry need many talents: empathy and sensitivity, as well as toughness and determination. They have to accept change and master challenges while keeping their gaze firmly on the goal.


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Fashion entrepreneurs are multitaskers, problem solvers, globetrotters, motivators, buffers, visionaries, role models, and accountants - preferably all at once. The times are demanding, as are people and trade relations. Excellent managers master the challenge of leading by example. Always… Text: Martina Müllner-Seybold, Kay Alexander Plonka. Illustrations: Claudia Meitert@Caroline Seidler


Belinda Selendi, owner of Selendi Die Mode “The Lord has graced me with an incredible enthusiasm and passion for fashion. It remains unbroken, even 34 years after I launched my store. I have an optimistic outlook on the future. I have experienced so many waves and phases over the years, which is why I am sure that the stationary retail trade will experience an upswing at some point. Naturally, one has to earn that upswing, for instance by building and expanding one’s regular customer database. Without regular customers, you don’t stand a chance. Whenever an opportunity arises during a personal conversation with a regular, I try to create awareness: quality versus fast fashion, buying locally versus online shopping. The reactions are positive. The customers have something to think about. We retailers have every right to take a stand, as long as we’re not patronising. We should highlight our value, in particular our value for the customer we advise. We also have a value for the city, which remains attractive because of us.”


Bert Sterck, fashion consultant “The current situation in the fashion sector isn’t easy, for various reasons. But one should never forget how much fun this industry is. I feel a great love for this profession, for people, for creativity, and for the beautiful things with which we are showered - every two seasons at the latest. I perceive it as a gift! I strive to maintain both openness and respect. I believe it is essential that people in management positions regularly highlight the positive contribution of the staff on the sales floor. They achieve great things, especially in the upscale segment. A dress for 6,000 Euros doesn’t fly off the shelf by itself. However, I have noticed that this pure pleasure in selling is fading. Our zeitgeist simply isn’t suited for the service idea. If one sells a great dress, one should perceive it as an achievement rather than regretting the fact that it didn’t end up in one’s own wardrobe. This is increasingly difficult to do in a world defined by constant comparisons and the display of one’s own possessions.”

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Daniel Thiel, owner of Daniel Thiel Wiesbaden “From employee to entrepreneur - that was a step out of my comfort zone which I have never regretted. The newly attained freedom gives me great satisfaction. I love being there for my customers. I am a person who loves to give. And whenever I give, I do so without ulterior motives. I am immensely humbled by the fact that both my customers and my team have been loyal to me for so many years. The relationships I establish go far beyond the retailer-customer level. This is what makes entrepreneurial commitment so rewarding. I leave the store happy every day, because I have succeeded in what I dreamed of. Daniel Thiel is like a living room, a place you enjoy visiting: be it for a chat or new clothes. My customers often tell me that my store is especially magical. Such compliments make me happy.”


Kay Knipschild, owner of Burg & Schild and Red Wing Stores Berlin, Hamburg & Munich “I primarily draw my strength from the love of the products we sell. Naturally, the interaction with employees should also be enjoyable. Most of our customers can sense this approach in the store. I also expect my employees to challenge me, be it with ideas or concrete proposals on how we can improve together. This places me, in a positive sense, in a permanent state of curiosity. After all, a 25-year-old employee requires good - or even surprising - solutions from me in order to be able to solve a problem independently later, even if I’m old enough to be his or her father. As a counter-balance to the everyday mass of e-mails, social media, telephone calls, meetings, and customer interaction, I reserve the right to switch off both telephone and Internet for a 3-week vacation once a year. Then, I renounce communication completely.”


Elke Wocke, owner of Strandgut Cologne “The term co-worker holds a lot of truth. Not only do I perceive my team in that spirit, but I also see myself as someone who works with others. When a large delivery arrives, it goes without saying that I help out. I am very dedicated and maintain very personal relationships. We even invite our staff to pool parties at our home every now and then. Some might shake their heads at such an idea, but I believe that, given the amount of time I spend in the store, our relationship needs to be excellent. At Strandgut Cologne we laugh together and master difficult situations together. We look after each other. We treat each other in a friendly and respectful manner. Our good mood spreads to the customers. We are often commended on how great our team spirit is. Customers are incredibly sensitive. If they sense that your heart isn’t in it, they refuse to buy from you. In return, we are rewarded for our exceptional dedication and passion. The reward: a great team, excellent customers, and commercial success.” 086

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www.textilerei.de www.startup-mannheim.de


Turning a start-up into a professional company is a Herculean task that, more often than not, cannot be accomplished without fully dedicated employees. How does one pave the way for success and future growth? How can one’s employees contribute? These young entrepreneurs, supported by Textilerei of Mannheim, are facing up to great challenges. Photos: Companies Label founder Tina Cetrez has the ambition to create core pieces and indispensable companions.

TEAM SPIRIT Fair, ecological, and hand-crafted: the children’s label Piaf & Ponti.


Piaf & Ponti. “One should really listen to the children,” Dolunay Erdar said to herself shortly before she launched her children’s clothing label Piaf & Ponti in 2017. Her ultimate goal is to create truly sophisticated clothing: fair, ecological, and hand-crafted in Mannheim. Erdar also runs a concept store for mothers and children with business partner Stefan Knecht. How does she choose her employees? “Friendly interaction is paramount. It’s also vital to have fun at work, both in the store and the studio. When it came to hiring seamstresses, knowledge of the German language was not as decisive as interpersonal chemistry. We spend so much time together in a familial environment. We cultivate a culture of open dialogue. Everyone’s ideas are welcome. That’s the only way it works. And everyone looks forward to coming to work.” www.piafponti.de

Kalaika. It all started with the net bag. Today, the accessories label Kalaika also offers filigree jewellery. Tina Cetrez founded Kalaika in Berlin. She showcases her range at trade fairs in Berlin and Munich. Her customer list includes the likes of Engelhorn and Conleys. The latest coup is the first Kalaika store in the heart of Mannheim. “A good team is the foundation for brand growth,” Tina Cetrez says. “Every employee is important and contributes greatly to our mutual success. I want to instil the Kalaika team spirit in my employees. The positive energy is what makes us so special. Each individual should see themselves as part of the bigger picture. Everyone knows that I have an open ear for their wishes and suggestions. I’m very proud of and grateful for Kalaika’s success. I launched a company based on an idea. That’s so great! What I’m trying to say is that everything is possible as long as you believe in your goals. It’s also essential to always enjoy what you do.” www.kalaika.berlin

Belle Ikat, launched by Isabella Stadler and Anna Fedchenkova, is willing to assume social responsibility.


Belle Ikat. “Belle” means beautiful, while “Ikat” describes a traditional fabric weaving technique. The womenswear collection by Isabella Stadler and Anna Fedchenkova is fully committed to sustainability. All fabrics are, for example, hand-woven by Uzbekistani women in their own homes. “We want to make a difference,” says Isabella Stadler. “Belle Ikat strives to support women and assume responsibility. We are currently in talks with the Indian organisation Saheli Women. We’d like to have our clothing sewn there too. The region is very poor, which means that women rarely have the opportunity to learn a trade. Medical care is also disastrous. The organisation supports 20 to 30 women and we’d be thrilled to help too. We want our employees to share Belle Ikat’s message. Our customers should be aware of what they’re wearing.” The label, which was launched in 2018, only recently made an appearance at a Parisian pop-up store specialising in sustainable fashion. The next stop is a sustainable fashion store in Brooklyn, New York. www.belleikat.de

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Leadership is an acquired skill. Coaches and trainers call for meeting the challenges of our time with intelligence, boldness, and encouragement. Their support comes in various forms: from practical hands-on training to the systematic facilitation of a transformation process. Text: Martina MĂźllner-Seybold, Kay Alexander Plonka. Photos: Interviewees


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“YOU NEED TO THINK MUCH BIGGER” Andrea Grudda is a strategist, speaker, author, and provider of team and leadership coaching in various industries. She also teaches trend management at the EMBA in Düsseldorf. Her methods have paved the way for the future success of many a company. Interview: Kay Alexander Plonka. Photos: Andrea Grudda

Your seminars focus on preparing employees and companies for the future. Is this a topic that is addressed naturally and consciously by businesses in general? I wish! Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs are still under the illusion that all they need is new software, coaching, or a single seminar. Our current challenges are the result of societal changes that are no longer local. They take on global dimensions. You need to think much bigger than in recent years. Furthermore, teams are often presented with techniques and ideas that fail to meet current demands and are thus rarely effective. Then everyone is surprised that things don’t work properly. Consequently, employees lose the desire to apply such ideas and to adapt. This scenario often leads to mutual recriminations. Why is it so important to ensure methods remain up-to-date? The daily use of mobile devices is altering public expectations in terms of conversations with and reactions from team members. What would have surprised - or even inspired - customers three years ago is now regarded as standard and self-evident. If I fail to deliver at content level, then I have a fundamental problem. The relationship level with the customer is becoming increasingly important. It’s more about humour, smartness, empathy, flexibility, speed, body language, etc. However, there are still hardly any seminars that convey this in a sustainable and credible manner. What is your message to those who say that they have explained everything to their employees three times and that one surely shouldn’t need to do more than that? The manager bears the responsibility. If employees fail to listen or can’t apply what is explained to them, then you need to change your methods. A football manager, for example, is required to come up with new ideas on how to win the next game. Every team

Andrea Grudda, a successful business coach and trainer, firmly believes that one-off measures are ineffective.

and every day is different. And we keep forgetting how much fun that can be. Creating something that is valuable and meaningful together is merely one of the many opportunities we have on a daily basis. One has to ask oneself the following: Is the goal to explain everything three times or should one rather explain the goals and create new parameters? Problems tend to start at the top and trickle down. What are the biggest challenges in leader coaching? Given the recent profound changes and the fact that there will be many more changes in, for instance, the fundamental reorganisation of businesses in terms of agile working and organisation, human leading, and new learning methods such as digitisation or e-learning, one has to abandon the “we’ll just get some coaching” approach. The question should be: Which partners can accompany me in the transformation to a future-oriented company? www.andreagrudda.de style in progress



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As a systemic coach, change manager, and trainer, Ulrike Michels conveys her idea of a healthy per­ formance culture that has matured over many years.

“HEALTHY EMPLOYEES PERFORM BETTER” FullFocus, a start-up launched by Ulrike Michels, coaches and advises businesses in the implementation of a healthy performance culture. Her HR development programme combines health-oriented and performance-oriented, inspiring leadership to strengthen every individual employee, the team, and the management. Interview: Kay Alexander Plonka. Photo: Maja Ewa Grabowska

How does it become apparent that - as you claim - health is becoming an increasingly vital success factor on a global scale? Studies by the University of St. Gallen show that companies that focus their management style on results and inspiration, as well as health, significantly improve their performance. In reality, however, health insurers and relevant ministries tell us that the absence rate of employees due to mental illness has increased fivefold over the past 40 years. This results in immense burdens for individuals, companies, health insurers, and the national economy. How does this translate into numbers? The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Healthcare claim that the production stoppage costs caused by mental illness, which amounted to approx. 4 billion Euros in 2008, have soared to 8.3 billion Euros 090

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in 2014. The calculations predict an increase in direct medical costs to approx. 32 billion Euros by 2030. Which illnesses are we talking about exactly? Given their impact, we’re primarily talking about psychological burdens such as burnout, anxiety disorders, and depression. One of the most common triggers is prolonged stress, which participants can learn to cope with. Since stress can also trigger other ailments, such as infections, muscular and skeletal issues, and heart diseases, our training courses also have positive effects on physiological aspects. What can be done in terms of prevention? Thorough research has shown that leadership and communication can balance work-related stress and enhance psychosocial well-being. Other relevant factors are self-care, time management, cooperation, and conflict resolution. FullFocus combines current research with simple recommended actions. This allows both leaders and employees to equip themselves against stress and psychological strains, as well as work absences and the resulting costs. At the same time, it ensures sustainable results for the company itself. How does this work in practice? The leadership programme I have developed is based on scientific findings on performance, leadership, and workplace health, as well as many years of practical experience in leadership and communication. The coaching topics are individually adaptable and are usually combined with 1-on-1 or team coaching sessions in order to ensure a sustainable change in attitude. www.fullfocus.de

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Yvonne Blauen-Ippendorf very quickly removed the word “consultant” from her vocabulary. “I accompany my customers on their way to a successful offline business, only then can consult­ ing be sustainable.”

“YOU MUST LIVE BY WHAT YOU DEMAND” Yvonne Blauen-Ippendorf had many years in fashion retailing under her belt before she started her own business as a trainer. She interprets her role in a hands-on manner. She cooperates with retailers to inspire on both a small and large scale. Text: Martina Müllner-Seybold. Photo: Yvonne Blauen-Ippendorf

Why is it always worth its while investing in personnel? Because personnel is the only thing that sets the stationary specialised retail trade apart from online competition. Customers want and demand well-founded advice. If you, as a fashion retailer, are not prepared to invest in staff, you might as well close down. How do you become a good role model? By being present. A boss who only sits in an office is not a role model. When you walk through the house, you have to live by what you demand. Respectful interaction often begins with the greeting. Everything I criticise as a boss, I must be able to do myself. If I criticise the presentation of goods, I have to be able to make it more beautiful myself. If I can do that quite casually, I earn the respect of my employees. Low traffic, online competition, and so on… There are so many things that can spoil a fashion retailer’s mood. How do you still manage to be a positive motivator? By avoiding aimless action… one needs to sit down, work out a strategy, and be relentlessly honest at the same time. If you’re not willing to fight for the store and the customers, maybe it’s better to look for a successor or close. But if you decide to fight, you need

a guideline. This is, so to speak, a big, overriding goal that is then divided into smaller stages with respective sub-goals. That’s the motivation, because they are visible in everyday life and help to implement the vision step by step. They say that unique positioning begins with the order. It’s vital to make courageous decisions in the purchasing department: no goodwill orders with your favourite agent, no reluctant acceptance of too high minimums, investing more effort in product range design, 30% of the budget retained for weather-dependent orders. How do you encourage fashion retailers to do this? My offer actually starts with the order, because I have noticed how huge the demand is. Together, we analyse the figures, evaluate the statistics, and thus prepare the customer much more thoroughly for order negotiations. The supplier’s interest is clear: he wants to sell as much as possible. Anyone who enters such talks uncertainly or unprepared becomes a victim. Those who prepare themselves have the courage to stand up for themselves during tough discussions and say: “Fine, then you won’t be my supplier.” Naturally, escalation should be avoided. The aim is to work together with suppliers to shape the purchasing process in a way that takes location requirements into account, creates an individual assortment, and facilitates the optimal sale of the purchased products. www.blauen-ippendorf.de style in progress



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“WE NEED A NEW LEARNING CULTURE” Excellent personnel requires excellent management. Does the fashion industry lack such specialists at management level? Jürgen Müller, founder and managing partner of Suits Executive Search, and Alexander Gedat, a serial advisory board member, sat down with editor-in-chief Stephan Huber to discuss the status quo. Interview: Stephan Huber. Text: Nicoletta Schaper. Photos: Interviewees


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Jürgen Müller


ot a week goes by without new insolvency filings. Is the fashion industry also facing a shortage of skilled talent at management level? Alexander Gedat: I think so. Many managers continue to rely on old leadership principles; they are authoritarian and restricting. However, it has never been more essential to grant employees space for their individual development. There are still too few managers willing to elevate their employees in our industry. Jürgen Müller: The heritage of this industry is one of the contributing factors in this respect. It attracts individuals with what we call “doer qualities”. They rely on their gut instinct and are committed movers. In the past, this mentality was the catalyst for great success stories. There was no need for higher education, especially in the retail trade. This is why we have a below-average rate of university graduates compared to other sectors. Today’s market is more complex, with much more competition on various levels. Business management as a whole has become much more demanding. Digitisation is a challenge in a league of its own. Qualifications that led to success 20 years ago are quite simply no longer sufficient. Alexander Gedat: When I joined Marc O’Polo in 1995, my MBA was the highest educational attainment in the whole company. I started hiring more academics stepby-step. We now need data analysts and mathematicians for the online business and the management of digital processes. We need people with skills that used to have absolutely nothing to do with our industry! And these specialists don’t necessarily perceive fashion as a business and career opportunity… Alexander Gedat: Moreover, a new generation has different demands, as well as different ideas as to what

Alexander Gedat

constitutes a successful life. Some 30-year-olds decide to quit their jobs when they no longer enjoy them, without having a new job lined up. Let’s be honest, that would have been unthinkable in our generation. Jürgen Müller: Others quit after a mere nine months in the job on grounds that they don’t see any advancement. But after nine months one has only just become acquainted with the new tasks! This is indeed a new mindset that companies need to respond to. Speaking of the academic quota: are our universities producing the talent the fashion industry needs? Alexander Gedat: Excellent brands have no problem finding designers. It is, however, a disaster when looking for engineers or travelling technicians. A disaster in terms of training and learning content? Jürgen Müller: No. It’s more structure-related. When the production was relocated, so were technical jobs. Correspondingly, less training is provided here. Alexander Gedat: I have also noticed that learning and development as a whole still haven’t been given a positive spin. I firmly believe that one can still teach oneself a lot after graduating, provided one enjoys learning. Lifelong learning needs to be more than a mere buzzword. What does that mean for the fashion industry? Alexander Gedat: As an employer, the industry needs to develop. To achieve this, we are all required to show a willingness to learn on a permanent basis. Zalando is now at least the second or third largest customer of almost all fashion brands, and may well be the largest customer of most brands in five years. Manufacturers need know-how to be a competent partner for the Amazons and Zalandos of this world. This also requires a different personnel structure. I myself could no longer style in progress



L e adi n g P eo p l e

“Technological knowhow is becoming increasingly important for brands.” Alexander Gedat

“Digitisation is a challenge in a league of its own.” Jürgen Müller

negotiate with one of Zalando’s executives on the subject of development, quite simply because my know-how is no longer sufficient. Jürgen Müller: The situation requires people who can manage the interface to Amazon and Zalando, who speak the same language, and who have the necessary standing. They have to understand what an Amazon buyer needs. The demands are completely different to those of P&C, for example. Business with such players is largely data-driven and much more rational. In reality, most orders are still written on notepads. At the same time, the iPhone is being used for taking photographs… Alexander Gedat: Seriously? That’s absolutely incredible. Such processes should be completely digitised. The future has already begun. The HR departments also play a key role, for example as initiators and management coaches. This begins with the selection process, which is defined by completely different criteria than in the past. Jürgen Müller: I find it interesting that very few managers within our industry attend career fairs. The CEOs and Managing Directors prefer to visit fashion exhibitions and leave the handling of personnel to their HR people. Can fashion even compete with other industries as an employer at top level? Jürgen Müller: This is a real challenge, especially in the new fields of digitisation. High potentials in the tech sector would rather apply for a job at Google than at Mytheresa. Alexander Gedat: Finding excellent talent has never been easy. And it will become even more difficult in Germany.

Jürgen Müller is the founder and managing partner of Suits Executive Search in Munich (www.suits-group.com). His recruitment consultancy fills top positions in the fashion and lifestyle business. Suits is one of the leading players in this particular field. Müller knows the market and its people like the back of his hand. Before becoming a consultant in 2012, he was the editor-in-chief of Textilwirtschaft. Then, as now, he believes it is his duty to support companies. Müller is also the author of Profashionals, a leading German fashion business blog with more than 8,500 subscribers. (www.profashionals.de).


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All the more reason for employers to satisfy and develop their employees. This means that investment in training needs to be ramped up significantly, no matter whether it’s for technicians or store managers. In the “good old days” those who were better salespeople than others were elevated to the position of store manager. Is this now also a job for academics? Alexander Gedat: Generally speaking, I don’t believe that a capable manager necessarily has to be an academic. Such positions require, above all, emotion. A mathematician with a doctorate may find it more difficult to be an excellent leader than a talented store manager. Being a store manager has something inspiring about it! Where else is one always surrounded by beautiful products with which one can seduce customers? Jürgen Müller: And a store manager needs to be an inspiring person! I have, by the way, never understood why someone would prefer to sit in a bank in front of a computer screen, compiling columns of numbers. Yet that job is considered more prestigious than selling fashion. Is the job of selling fashion really so much better than its reputation? Jürgen Müller: Providing a service to people generally doesn’t create an air of excitement. But a sales job in fashion has a lot to offer: beautiful products and - in many cases - a highly attractive workplace. One gets to encounter and communicate with many different people… Alexander Gedat: The working hours make it possible to relax and read the newspaper before work starts at ten o’clock. Or one can do sports for one or two hours. That’s one way of looking at it. But the argument of low wages cannot be brushed aside that easily. Alexander Gedat: An average salesperson earns an average wage. Excellent salespeople who sell products worth up to 600,000 Euros per year are paid exceptionally well. How can one improve the public perception of jobs in the fashion industry? Alexander Gedat: Everyone should do what they’re good at and what makes them happy. We should therefore increase investment in strength management. This starts in schools, which tend to spend more time working on weaknesses than promoting strengths. In my opinion, the German school system needs a complete overhaul. What can a fashion business do to kindle an interest in the industry among young people?


L e adi n g P eo p l e

“The fun returns with the performance.”

“Providing a service to people generally doesn’t create an air of excitement.” Jürgen Müller

Alexander Gedat

Alexander Gedat: The industry is already doing a lot. It starts with an excellent product everyone wants to identify with. Why are so many young people keen on working for Apple or Google? Because the product is excellent. Nevertheless, fashion doesn’t seem to attract the best students. Alexander Gedat: You don’t need the best students, you need the right ones for the job. Even top salespeople spend half their time filling shelves, which means their strengths are only utilised fully to 50 percent. It would be much better to allow them to sell products for 70 or 80 percent of their time and to hire someone else for the other tasks. That’s how strength management works! Back to those who climbed the ladder as non-academics. They mostly became so successful due to being extremely industrious. If you want to be successful, you need to enjoy working hard. Isn’t it a problem that many people believe they can build a career without putting in too much effort these days? Alexander Gedat: I don’t think that society believes that. Everybody knows that someone like Cristiano Ronaldo practices free kicks when the others are already in the showers. Nothing comes from nothing. But then there are many who don’t want to work that much, which is perfectly fine too. Jürgen Müller: The issue of work-life balance crops up in many job interviews, even at management level. You’d be surprised. It’s quite paradoxical, especially as the boundaries between work and private life are increasingly blurred. That’s why I don’t really like the term. What really matters, at the end of the day, is the perfect life balance. Alexander Gedat: This harbours the risk of burning out more quickly, perhaps in repetitive jobs that quickly become boring. All the more one should offer employees the chance to continuously broaden their horizons. At BMW, every manager has a different job every five years! This prevents boredom and creates a genuine learning culture. Jürgen, you have worked as a recruitment consultant for seven years. For a very long time, new talent was primarily recruited from within the industry. Has this approach changed? Jürgen Müller: There are certain fields, such as product management or sales, where an industry background is

essential. But in other fields, such as HR, finance, marketing or IT, one often recruits externally. Fashion people are, however, equally interesting for other markets. Half of our clients are no longer fashion companies. Talents from the fashion industry are in demand because they have a sense of aesthetic and style, they embody creativity and flexibility, and they are used to swift changes. The perception of fashion outside the industry is positive? Jürgen Müller: Yes. Although the perception that fashion isn’t really business does prevail in some quarters. Some believe it’s all about red carpets and pretence. Fashion unjustly has a superficial image, especially in Germany. Alexander Gedat: Most people underestimate the immense influence of fashion. I have a motto that I believe in: “Success makes sexy!” However, the fashion industry needs to work hard to regain this success first. It needs to catch up in the areas of digitisation and profitability. Our industry is characterised by the virtue of changing things quickly in order to return to success. I am very confident that fashion will succeed in doing just that.

Alexander Gedat is an advisory board member and supervisory board chairman of several medium-sized clothing manufacturers. He laid the foundation for his excellent reputation within the industry during his more than 20 years at Marc O’Polo. He has been instrumental in the brand’s development, especially as CEO from 2012 to 2017. He is particularly passionate and enthusiastic about transformation and life-long learning.

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L e adi n g P eo p l e


THE BROAD HORIZON OF THE “GEBIRGS­ STÄTTER” The Meindl flagship store in Salzburg highlights the brand’s international potential. Text: Stephan Huber. Photo: Helge Kirchberger


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By opening a Meindl store in Salzburg you are symbolically starting a new chapter in your company’s history. The store fulfils a dream I have harboured for many years. I firmly believe this is a milestone for us. Here in the heart of Salzburg, we can now present our brand world in its entirety. We are eager to show what we can do, how we live our values and translate them into high-quality products, and how one can make “Authentic Luxury” tangible. This also applies to the completely home-grown store design, which we implemented exclusively with regional craftsmen. It’s timeless, sustainable, and future-oriented. Your store in Salzburg also proves that Meindl stands for so much more than “Tracht” in the literal - and often misunderstood - meaning of the term. Do you intend to continue developing this aspect on an international level too?


Markus Meindl is not merely opening a store in Salzburg - he is granting access to his and his brand’s world.

We certainly don’t rule that out. We perceive this store as an excellent blueprint for future projects. We are eager to learn, to gather experience. These findings can then be the foundation for considering our next steps. We’ve always had this approach. For example, I registered the term “Gebirgsstätter” as a trademark 20 years ago. It describes the interplay of the city and the mountains, of urbanity and archaic nature as a place of longing. When you think about it, this topic is more relevant now than it has ever been. Meindl operates in precisely this tension field. The great thing about this location is that we can compete with brands such as Prada and Louis Vuitton on an international level. This is very exciting for us. Many people don’t even know that the Meindl universe also includes a wide range of accessories and furniture. Will you communicate this more aggressively in the future?

We will showcase the fact in the store, which allows us to experience the customers’ reactions in real time and draw conclusions accordingly. What is clear is that we are continuously developing our brand in an intelligent manner. This, of course, also includes new product groups. There will also be regular collaborations with major international brands. They will be comparable to the great success we enjoyed when we teamed up with Hublot. The store is plastic-free, right? Yes, we’re committed to that. Generally speaking, we have always tried to operate as resource-efficiently as possible. The entire industry, as well as every individual, is called upon to face up to this challenge. Given the high quality of your products, you also have very high standards in terms of service quality. Was it difficult to find suitable personnel? The people we hired for the store here in Salzburg underwent a four-month training programme in Kirchanschöring. We selected and trained them very carefully. We started looking for staff via our own networks at a very early stage, but many were chosen based on personal referalls. The excellent reputation of our brand proved enormously beneficial. Let’s talk about skilled production workers. Meindl products demand a great deal of skill in this respect too. How difficult is it to find suitable candidates for production vacancies - now and in the future? It’s definitely a challenge. If we hadn’t started actively looking for skilled production specialists in Hungary and Croatia at a very early stage, we would probably be facing an insurmountable problem. We offer these workers the opportunity to bring their families along and supply housing. They love being here, which means that we can rely on a certain influx of people. We have thus managed to prevent a bottleneck in production - for now at least. There’s no chance of finding such workers in Germany or Austria? It remains very difficult. Young people were conveyed a completely false, negative picture of the value of craftsmanship and vocational training for a very long time. On the other hand, we only recently welcomed the second grammar school student who is completing a tailoring apprenticeship after passing her A-level exams. That’s ideal. She made a very conscious choice. We also hire lateral entrants from other companies from time to time. The excellent workers are still out there, somewhere. Given the ubiquitous trend that people are once again interested in where a product comes from, how it was manufactured, and what it stands for, craftsmanship training is becoming more relevant again too. You’ve worked with refugees too. Please tell us about your experiences… It was good, even excellent in some cases. We had colleagues in the sewing and cutting departments with a certain amount of previous experience in their fields. I believe that both technical and social competence are important, the latter even more so. This aspect is often underestimated, but it’s the cornerstone of mutual success. style in progress



Bespoke Boots

BCC:ED. Italian footwear specialist AKV Srl manufactures each pair of shoes by hand on historical machines. Quality is always the highest maxim. Launched in 2013, Bcc:ed (the abbreviation stands for Blind Carbon Copied) focuses on exclusivity and a selective distribution policy. In addition to sturdy mountaineering boots and suede Chelsea boots, the label offers low shoes and chukka boots with Vibram soles, as well as lighter and thinner smooth leather shoes and boots. The collection comprises approx. 15 models for men and women in up to four variants. Purchase prices start at 110 Euros; the core price stands at 150 Euros. Horse leather shoes, however, cost a little more. The markup is 2.7. Repeat orders can be placed in small quantities or individual sizes. Bcc:ed Calzaturificio Civitanovese srl, Civitanovese Marche/Italy, T 0039.339.8675538, avkshoes@gmail.com, www.bcced.it 098

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Expression and Simplicity

COSTER COPENHAGEN. The balancing act between special and commercial is tricky. Coster Copenhagen masters it with ease by focusing on innovation with Scandinavian simplicity, the use of fresh colours, and expressive prints. Pia and Chris Coster, who launched the label in 2012, are known for their social commitment to their production partners in China, Turkey, and India. The womenswear is distributed throughout Europe, as well as in Australia and Canada. Germany is the second strongest market with 100 customers, including Stulz Waldshut-Tiengen, Langeloh & Peters’son Hamburg, and Venus Mode Munich. The label offers two collections per year. With a markup between 2.7 and 3.0, purchase prices range from 29 to 66 Euros and 37 to 60 Euros for dresses and trousers respectively. Coster Copenhagen A/S, Humlebæk/Denmark, T 0045.72220231, sales@costercopenhagen.com, www.costercopenhagen.com

Tranquil Luxury

FRENKEN. The CV of Dutch designer Erik Frenken reads like a Who’s Who of designer fashion: it ranges from Alberta Ferretti to Victor & Rolf, where he was head designer before joining Avelon. In 2017, he decided to launch his female outerwear collection Frenken. He focuses on extraordinary ready-to-wear clothing and feminine total looks. As of the summer collection 2018, the brand is being represented by Bernard Waage’s fashion agency Select Studio. The sales experts managed to turn 10 customers in the DACH region into more than 60, including household names such as Lodenfrey, Reflection, and Fashion Clinic. The two main and pre-collections per year are manufactured in Italy and Portugal. At a mark-up of 2.7, purchase prices range from 80 to 100 Euros. “This places Frenken in the Affordable Luxury category,” Waage says. Frenken, Amsterdam/The Netherlands, T 0031.70.2504260, frenken@frenkenfashion.com, www.frenkenfashion.com


Two Cities, One Spirit Dragons’ Den

MOROTAI SIGNATURE. Breuninger and Oberpollinger are already convinced: Morotai Signature’s collection meets a real demand with its fashionable sportswear. “I have always been on the lookout for a brand that offers a cool look for several sports, not just for merely one category such as football or basketball,” says Rafy Ahmed, who founded Morotai in 2017 with three like-minded partners. After appearing on the German equivalent of “Dragons’ Den”, the label won over 80 retail customers on the spot. Activewear is now supplemented by the streetwear line Morotai Signature, which was on show at Premium and Ispo. The clear-line sportswear range is primarily black, white, and grey. It also offers shoes for men and women that can be combined easily. At a mark-up of 2.5, retail prices range from 50 to 200 Euros. Morotai GmbH, Birkenfeld/Germany, T 0049.7231.3740190, rafy@morotai.de, www.morotai.de

Made in Scotland

LE BONNET. Minimalist design, excellent wearing comfort, durable quality: the beanies, balaclavas, scarves, and gloves by Le Bonnet come in many colours, from muted to strong shades. Matthieu Jansen launched his label in Amsterdam in 2015. His goal is to create accessories that fit everyone optimally, knitted on traditional machines in one of the oldest factories in Great Britain. The label uses high-quality lamb, merino, and cashmere wool sourced from Scotland and Italy. Accordingly, the items feature the lettering “Made in Scotland” next to the discreet logo. Komet und Helden acts as the sales representative in Germany and Austria. At a mark-up of 2.5, purchase prices hover around the 24 Euros mark. The collection is complemented by a range for children called Le Petit Bonnet. Le Bonnet Amsterdam B.V., Amsterdam/ The Netherlands, T 0031.623.277661, contact@lenewblack.com, www.lebonnet.nl

LA_B. The LA_B athleisure collection attempts to connect two cities with similar mindsets. Thus, both LA and Berlin are represented in the label’s name. The collection consists of trendy hoodies, shirts, sweats, and pants - some of which feature printed graphics or lettering. Two collections per year are distributed via an agency in Germany, the head office in Berlin, and an American agency. Pieces can be reordered from Joor at any time. This option makes sense because LA_B offers a relatively high proportion of all-season products. Seasonal must-haves and updates of classics add excitement every season. At a mark-up of 3.0, purchase prices range from 22 Euros for t-shirts to 90 Euros for hoodies. Reference retailers include Jades in Düsseldorf, Kith in LA and New York, and Traffic in LA. Managing Director Ines di Rado explains: “LA_B unites artists and creatives from two cities. They define themselves by common attitudes. Whether in LA or Berlin, our collaborations are based on curiosity, forward thinking, and productive cooperation. We serve a generation that isn’t pretty, but beautiful.” LA_B, Berlin/Germany, T 0049.30.25787717, ines@la-b.com, www.la-b.com style in progress




Amsterdam Love

ANECDOTE. Jetteke van der Wyck van Beuningen has dedicated her ready-to-wear collection to sustainability and the ideals of slow fashion. Thus, the designs are timeless and wearable. She launched her label in Amsterdam in 2009 and attaches great importance to the quality of natural materials such as alpaca wool and mohair knit. The collection focuses on clean basics. The brand was introduced to German retailers in 2016. With the autumn/winter 2019 collection, Bernhard Waage’s fashion agency Select Studio was chosen as sales representative. With two collections per year and purchase prices between 50 and 70 Euros (with a mark-up ranging from 2.7 to 2.8), Anecdote is aimed at customers in the medium to upper price segment. Anecdote, Amsterdam/The Netherlands, T 0031.20.3304300, alexander@anecdote.nl, www.anecdote.nl 100

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QUARTZ CO. Canada is renowned for its competence in cold protection. This also applies to the family business Quartz Co, which was taken over by the brothers Jean-Philippe and Francois-Xavier Robert four years ago. They have recalled the strengths of their product: produced in Canada from innovative materials, a membrane ensures water and wind tightness. The down and hides are supplied by sustainable sources. In addition to the classic, waisted parkas for men and women, the label also offers a younger line. It boasts approx. 40 styles in total. Jackets can be re-ordered via a stock programme. At a mark-up of 2.5, purchase prices range from 300 to 400 Euros. In Germany, the brand is stocked by the likes of Conleys, Breuninger, and Bergfreunde. Quartz Co is now represented in more than 20 countries. Quartz Co, QuĂŠbec/Canada, T 001.450.252.7660, info@quartz-co.ca, www.quartz-co.ca

Fair Trade Collective

RHUMAA. They perceive themselves as a cooperative of artists with bases in Amsterdam and Cape Town; their product combines the ideals of fair trade, certified eco-materials, and the promotion of local crafts in developing countries. When Dutchman Daniel Beernink founded his Rhumaa label in 2015, he probably never thought that the market for his collection produced in Europe would prove to be so vast. The items are now stocked throughout Europe in fair fashion stores and large multi-label concepts. Each season, the brand presents 65 to 80 new pieces at an average selling price of 168 Euros, with a mark-up of 2.6. The individual collections are always created in collaboration with an artist from a developing country, telling stories about cultures, society, and dreams. Rhumaa, Amsterdam/The Netherlands, T 0031.20.2440385, sales@rhumaa.com, www.rhumaa.com


No More Microplastics

GUPPY FRIEND. When clothes made of synthetic materials are washed, broken plastic fibres (i.e. microplastics) are released into the waste water - subsequently into rivers and oceans, and thus also into the food chain. The smart Guppy Friend wash bag collects these fibres in its corners. After washing, these can be easily removed and disposed of. The soft surface of the bag also ensures that clothing generally loses fewer fibres than is usually the case, which extends the service life of the respective products. The wash bag was invented by Alexander Nolte and Oliver Spies, the Managing Directors of Langbrett, together with the team of the non-profit organisation “Stop! Micro Waste�, which draws attention to the (micro)plastic waste problem and initiates solutions to avoid plastic. The retail price is 29.75 Euros. Stop! Micro Waste gUG, Berlin/Germany, T 0049.211.46861604, us@guppyfriend.com, www.guppyfriend.com

Clear Conscience for the Masses FAIR THROUGHOUT

SHIPSHEIP. Minimalist fashion with a sustainable claim is the credo of Joana Ganser and partner Daniela Wawrzyniak. The pair launched their label in Cologne in 2015. Its design reflects longevity and quality consciousness. Shipsheip works with certified sustainable materials, but also with smart fibres such as merino wool/algae fibre or eucalyptus. They attach great importance to fair working conditions at suppliers; the production chain is made transparent on the website. The year-round basic stock collection is supplemented with summer and winter styles. Purchase prices for dresses, tops, and coats range from 23 to 81 Euros, with a mark-up of 2.5. Last but not least, Shipsheip also offers a small, refined range of accessories. Shipsheip Holistic Fashion, Cologne/Germany, T 0049.221.20436528, info@shipsheip.com, www.shipsheip.com

THOKKTHOKK. The crucial question of green fashion is whether one should offer high-quality fair trade pieces with sustainability certificates in the low price segment and thus be economically successful? Some might say this is a contradiction in itself, but the Munich-based label ThokkThokk, founded by Vinzent Johow and managed by Verena Paul-Benz, sees it as a challenge. Its casual sportswear for men and women has already won over 150 customers throughout Europe. The items can be purchased directly via an online B2B shop. The customers include RRRevolve Fair Fashion in Zurich, Green Ground in Vienna, and Zuendstoff in Freiburg. Since 2008, ThokkThokk has been producing two 80-piece collections per year, with purchase prices ranging from 6.99 Euros for socks to 120 Euros for jackets. The mark-up of 2.4 to 3.0 is impressive. ThokkThokk, Munich/Germany, T 0049.89.90150662, support@thokkthokk.com, www.thokkthokk.com style in progress



fashion now The theme is dead – long live implementation! Trends have long since transformed into trans-seasonal phenomena that retain their place in collections over a longer period of time. This leads to a certain level of deceleration on the one hand, but also to a consolidation of content on the other hand. It’s time for a trend snapshot that bundles the strongest trends of the moment. Editor: Isabel Faiss. Photos: Brands


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Pocket Games

Circle bags, hip bags, and smaller shoulder bags are outstripping large-format shoppers. The little eye-catchers not only promise high margins, but are - above all - a visual upgrade for every outfit.

Marc O’Polo

C.P. Company

Marc Cain

Essentiell Antwerp

Il Bisonte

Ann Kurz


AS 98


Stella Mc Cartney

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Sweat Off

Fashion is back on the streets. We owe the comeback of t-shirts and sweatshirts to the hype around labels such as Off White, which rely on muted colours, graphic statements, and logo prints. Even the avant-garde is allowed to join in from time to time, primarily in the form of asymmetrical cuts. The focus is on a relaxed and extremely high-quality look.


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Better Rich



C.P. Company x Patta

Sun 68



Palm Angels

Marc O’Polo Denim

Lightning Bolt

Rebekka Ruétz

Floris van Bommel


Moose Knuckels

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Dress Code

What’s much more exciting than what one wears underneath this season? What one wears over it! A dress without a jacket remains a rarity. Contrasts in colour, shape, and materials are particularly in demand. In this role play, the dress positions itself as an item defined by romantic volume layering and floral prints.


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Essentiell Antwerp







Manuel Ritz


Daniel Hechter





Baum und Pferdegarten

Liu Jo

Luis Trenker

Des Petits Hauts

Flowers for friends

Beatrice B.


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Fashion Statement

The answer to the question whether codes and political statements still exist in fashion after the disappearance of hippies, punks, and rock & roll is: more than ever! Given that what we wear, why we wear it, and when we wear it has become an integral part of our lifestyle, eco fashion and every form of openly displayed fashion statements are in great demand.


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Liv Bergen

Thokk Thokk

Yippie Hippie

Lemmon Jelly


5 Preview

Warm Me


Save the Duck

Another me

It Peace

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A Certain Kind of Guy

The architect look is, of course, not socially acceptable. But off the record: we all know what we’re talking about. It’s all about the clean, neat wise guy with intelligent charisma. It’s about the elegant nihilist who sacrifices anything ornamental to the aesthetics of Bauhaus. This is an homage to inner values such as material, workmanship, and quality.


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Begg & Co



Bottega Veneta

Wool & Co


Edward Copper

Lamberto Losani





Les Deux


Phil Petter

Steiner 1888

American Vintage

Saint Laurent

Blauer USA


Circolo 1901

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IN STORE THE MAGIC OF THE PHYSICAL Brands are created at the POS. Why not escalate this truism a little? Brands are created at the multi-brand POS. When the art of selecting the right retail partners combines perfectly with the designer’s energy, the result is the perfect incubator for labels and brands. The fact that one doesn’t necessarily need to leave this nest as soon as the first individual steps have been made, is a realisation that is maturing in an increasing number of brands. Even the large ones...  Text: Isabel Faiss, Ina Köhler, Martina Müllner-Seybold, Kay Alexander Plonka, Nicoletta Schaper


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A versatile concept that perfectly serves the clientele with everything from fashion competence to yoga lessons: My Fitch has two locations in Düsseldorf.

My Fitch/Düsseldorf

THE NEIGHBOURHOOD STORE eyond the typical prime locations of Kö & Co, Düsseldorf is rich in individual store concepts. Many customers like to shop locally in “their” district, especially when excellent service is combined with an exciting brand concept. My Fitch owner Dagmar Tegtmeyer has her roots in the event industry. “That’s why I approached things without prejudice.” About ten years ago, she started with children’s shoes and clothing in Düsseldorf-Gerresheim. It went so well that she opened a store for adults near the established shopping mile “Rethelstrasse”. Tegtmeyer launched her third project on “Tannenstrasse” in autumn 2018 while abandoning her first store. Here in the north of Düsseldorf, a microcosm of showrooms, advertising agencies, cafes, and interesting restaurants has developed. The informed clientele is correspondingly colourful. Coffee and water are always at the ready, while the courtyard is a perfect location for parties and relaxed after-shopping sessions. Tegtmeyer largely designed the interior of the old building herself. It’s a warm mix of old and new, parquet flooring, vintage furniture, and large sofas to sink into. “Here I finally have room for my brands and can present them beautifully in combination with decorative and interior design items,” she gushes. Her focus is on fashion and shoes by brands such as Essentiel Antwerp, American Vintage, UGG, New Balance, or Vans, as well as many lovingly selected accessories. She also offers a small selection for men. At My Fitch you’ll always find new things: from design steamers to current sneakers, from patterned silk dresses to room scents. The owner is more than happy to give space to new labels she has discovered: “We constantly invite designers to present their collections here.” The agenda is equally diverse, especially as Tegtmeyer organises special events at least once a month. The store even hosts yoga lessons. “We just roll out the mats right here.”

Dagmar Tegtmeyer joined the industry ten years ago as a lateral entrant, initially opening a children’s fashion store.

My fitch Department Store Tannenstrasse 37, Düsseldorf/Germany My fitch uptown Achenbachstrasse 131, Düsseldorf/Germany info@my-fitch.com, www.my-fitch.com Opening: September 2018 Owner: Dagmar Tegtmeyer Employees: 4 Sales area: 130 sqm Brands: among others Au Soleil de Saint Tropez, American Vintage, Ba & sh, Colmar, D.A.T.E, Designers Remix, Essentiel Antwerp, Gestuz, Henriette Steffensen, Mos Mosh, Phil & Lui, Samsoe & Samsoe, Schott NY Shoe brands: Birkenstock, Flip Flop, Natural World, New Balance, Timberland, Primebase, UGG, Vans

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Photos: My Fitch




Centre Commercial/Paris

Sustainable fashion is still difficult to find in the French capital. One of the few exceptions: Centre Commercial. With their store, Sebastien Kopp and Franรงois Ghislain Morillion, creators of the Veja eco-sneaker brand, have opted for an innovative mix of green fashion and fairly manufactured products.


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Photos: Centre Commercial



The driving force behind the store are the founders of the Veja eco-sneaker label, Sebastien Kopp and François Ghislain Morillion.

Sustainable, eco-friendly, and fair all products at Centre Commercial fulfil all three criteria with modest sincerity.


he store’s name was initially a project title based on the work of philosopher Bernard Stiegler and American sociologist Mike Davis. We wanted to redefine the idea of consumption,” explains Sebastien Kopp. All Centre Commercial products are manufactured responsibly. Some are produced in France, others have organic quality, others are sustainably certified. When selecting brands, the duo attaches particular importance to transparency and design. “We were eager to create a place where tomorrow’s society could express itself,” adds François Ghislain Morillion. “One of the reasons why we founded our Veja brand was that we were fed up with listening to people who

talked about necessary change, but then failed to act and thus changed absolutely nothing. The same applies to the store. We want to create a place where people have a stage to create and build something.” On- and Offline In the meantime, Centre Commercial has opened two offshoots in addition to an online store: a 90-square-metre kids store just around the corner from its bigger brother and, in 2017, a second branch on the other side of the Seine in the 6th district’s “Rue Madame”. For this summer, the brands People Tree and Mara Hoffman, who founded her sustainable label in 2000 after studying at the Parsons School of Design in

New York City, have been added to the product range. Other additions include the collections by Holiday Boileau of Paris, Rita Row of Barcelona, bags by Herbert Frére Soeur and Isaac Reina of Paris, and sandals for women by Atelier Sabot. The concept store’s portfolio also encompasses candles, books, cosmetics, perfumes, jewellery, watches, porcelain, and tableware. At first glance, the store looks like any other boutique or concept store in the area. Only when you take a closer look and talk to the employees does it become clear that one is on the safe side when it comes to the origin and manufacturing of the products in terms of social and environmental compatibility. With Centre Commercial, Paris has not

only gained a contact point for conscious consumption, but also an example of how change can be achieved with the necessary commitment.

Centre Commercial 2 Rue de Marseille 75010 Paris/France www.centrecommercial.com Opening: November 2010 Owners: Sebastien Kopp and François Ghislain Morillion Employees: 25 Sales area: 150 sqm Brands: among others Ami, Albam, Avnier, Baserange, Bleu de Paname, Etudes, Homecore, Norse Projects, Officine Générale, Patagonia, Paraboot, Roseanna, Veja, YMC

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The Corner/Berlin



mmanuel de Bayser and Josef Voelk have once again proved their uniqueness with their third store in Berlin. The premises, located in the legendary former Hotel Bogota in “Schlüterstrasse”, combine Marie Antoinette romanticism with contemporary brutalism. “We need to be outstanding, which is why the best stores in the world are our benchmark,” de Bayser says. He and Voelk would never indulge in Berlin’s navel-gazing. Off-White, Balenciaga, Celine, Jaquemus, and The Row are the larger brands in the product range. The Corner counters the elegance of West Berlin with a furnishing concept featuring open walls and ironic details. It’s a chamber of marvels, a refuge for the extraordinary in the very best concept store style. After all, The Store was among the pioneers of this segment in 2006. The coup: the integration of Maison Laduree. Its pastel-coloured confectioner cuddliness forms a wonderful contrast to the fashion store’s zeitgeist. Opposites do attract each other!

At The Corner Berlin, Josef Voelk and Emmanuel de Bayser are guided exclusively by international standards.


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The Corner Berlin West Schlüterstrasse 45, Berlin/Germany www.thecornerberlin.de Owners: Emmanuel de Bayser, Josef Voelk Opening: 2006, new branch in West Berlin in 2018 Sales area: 350 sqm Brands: among others Balenciaga, Celine, Dries van Noten, Jaquemus, Off-White, The Row

Photos: The Corner Berlin West

The Corner Berlin sets a bold contrast in the chic west of Berlin.


Inspiring: Conceptblue not only offers fashion, but also interior design items and accessories.



Photos: Conceptblue


arie-Christine Hopf and Anneliese Ebner first turned a mono into a duo - and now it’s a multi. But let’s start at the beginning. In 2005, the mother-daughter duo plunged into self-employment with a Jones franchise store, which was supplemented by a multi-label store named Conceptblue in 2015. They took the final step towards freedom late last year: “Jones remains part of our product range, but it’s important to us to present a variety of 30 brands,” Hopf explains. The assortment is complemented by home and lifestyle accessories. “We don’t miss a single trade fair,” Hopf laughs. “Copenhagen tends to be particularly inspiring.” The mother-daughter team loves mixing fashion: Marc Aurel to Yaya, Coster Copenhagen to Ecoalf, or Covari to MbyM. “We strive to create cool outfits for every customer, from schoolgirls to grandmothers.” Hopf thus addresses Conceptblue’s main strength. Be it social media postings or advice in the store, the keyword is outfit competence. “We pre-select during the buying process. We ask ourselves whether trends would appeal to our customers.” This selection process is appreciated: “We have local customers, but also customers willing to drive for two hours to visit us. Naturally, that makes us very happy. We have great customers, really interesting women. It’s always enjoyable to exchange views with them.” This mentality permeates the entire team. Hopf: “We are open to training people. I consider my long-standing employees to be a blessing. We are successful because we enjoy what we do, believe in the products we sell, and always look for new ideas. I am proud that we have managed to distinguish ourselves from the discounters, that we primarily stock brands manufactured in Europe, and that we are capable of communicating the value of fashion to our customers.” She is highly satisfied with Hallein as a business location. “It has developed into a really hip city with really cool stores and an offering that many big cities would be jealous of.” Conceptblue creates its own customer frequency, by the way. It helps that Hopf has a degree in Multimedia Art and once worked as a graphic designer. “Mailings, events, advertising, and social media - we make sure people don’t forget us.”

Mother and daughter eager to dress women of all age groups: Conceptblue’s Marie-Christine Hopf and Anneliese Ebner.

Conceptblue Ederstrasse 1, Hallein/Austria www.conceptblue.at Owner: Marie-Christine Hopf Opening: 2015, extension in 2018 Sales area: 200 sqm Brands: among others Articles of Society, Coster Copenhagen, Covari, Ecoalf, JC Sophie, Jones, Lofina, Marc Aurel, MbyM, Raffaello Rossi, Twin Set, Womsh, Yaya

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With its exclusive high fashion range, Soho has a unique position in the city centre of Trier.


Ever-changing temps? Not at Claudia Sandmayer’s Soho fashion store… Instead, she relies on sales personalities who know their customers - and on audacity in her fashion range.


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e are super satisfied right now,” says Claudia Sandmayer about the revenue generated by the new spring/summer items. Be it thick coarse-knitted pullovers in light colours by Lala Berlin, dresses by Self-Portrait, or - more recently - by Zimmermann, as well as brands such as Chloé, Celine, and Valentino - the high-quality mix focuses on trends and is well-received by customers. The latter also appreciate that Claudia Sandmayer is willing to stick her head out rather than playing it safe in terms of suggestions. “We hardly even order basics,” Claudia

Sandmayer stresses. “I’d rather go after what looks cool and what I like.” A Great Team 30 years ago, Claudia Sandmayer and her husband Volker Sandmayer launched the store in St. Ingbert, Saarland. However, the business stalled once it became apparent that the store concept wasn’t suitable for a rural village. They relocated to Trier 20 years ago and success was almost immediate. “The people

Photos: Agentur Kühnen, Trier



here appreciate our open nature.” The couple forms a great team. Volker Sandmayer is responsible for the office, but both travel to orders together. Most customers are from the region, but also from Luxembourg and France. It’s therefore all the more important for them that they don’t travel for nothing and find a personal advisor who makes time for them and is familiar with their style. Close customer contact is the vital success factor for Soho. “We inform customers about newly arrived items personally, and they are always incredibly grateful,” says Claudia Sandmayer, who is a style role model for many. The same applies to her employees. “When we post outfits on Instagram or Facebook, people react immediately. I often already know that this is going to be a 100 percent sale.”

“I need direct customer contact. Without it I couldn’t order accordingly,” says Claudia Sandmayer, the owner of Soho. Pictured with her husband Volker Sandmayer.

Soho Fleischstrasse 54, 54290 Trier/Germany www.soho-moden.com Opening in Trier: 1998; in the current premises since 2011 Owner: Claudia Sandmayer Managing Directors: Claudia and Volker Sandmayer Employees: 5 Sales area: approx. 300 sqm Brands for women: among others 360Cashmere, Anine Bing, Arma, Brunello Cucinelli, Celine, Chloé, Citizens of Humanity, Dorothee Schumacher, Duvetica, FTC Cashmere, Friendly Hunting, Ganni, Hanky Panky, Iris von Arnim, Isabel Marant Étoile, IVI Collection, Jadicted, Joseph, Juvia, Lala Berlin, Lis Lareida, Liv Bergen, Maison Lener, Moncler, Odeeh, Paige, Piú & Piú, Red Valentino, Sam Edelman, Self-Portrait, SLY010, Sminfinity, Stouls, Ulla Johnson, Valentino, Vince, Yves Salomon, Zimmermann Accessories brands: among others Celine, Chloé, Friendly Hunting, Marjana von Berlepsch, Moncler, Valentino

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Publisher, editorial office, advertising department and owner B2B Media GmbH & Co KG Salzweg 17, 5081 Salzburg-Anif Austria T 0043.6246.89 79 99 F 0043.6246.89 79 89 office@ucm-verlag.at www.style-in-progress.com www.ucm-verlag.at Management Stephan Huber

Recognising People

New York, London, Paris, Munich Everybody Talk About… Personalisation!

Editors-in-chief Stephan Huber stephan.huber@ucm-verlag.at

Adapting a product or service to the personal needs of the individual customer is regarded as the Holy Grail of our modern consumer society. Given the increasingly fierce global competition for the attention and favour of customers who are not merely spoiled, but also confused, overwhelmed, and potentially even bored by the daily flood of offers on all channels, personalisation and customising seem like a lifesaving emergency exit. And technology, as in (once again) digitisation, seems like the path that leads to that exit door. As always, when a new buzzword bursts onto the scene, it makes sense to not merely babble about it, but to question it and maybe even brush it against the grain. Here’s a short attempt to classify the phenomenon in four points:

Martina Müllner-Seybold

1. Personalisation really isn’t a newly discovered yellow brick road, but always the essence of every form of human interaction. Thus it is, of course (or maybe even especially), the essence of commerce. All people are different, after all. And if the idea of really taking this diversity seriously seems almost revolutionary, it is mainly because quite a few big players (not only in our fashion industry) have attempted to impose a globally uniform assortment on a global audience. I mean, seriously? The Nike “Community Store” in Los Angeles, which was launched last year, is a perfect example of the insight that standardisation cannot work.

Isabel Faiss

2. However, the “Community Store” is also a perfect example of how data generated online (the new gold standard of our digital economy) makes it possible to disrupt the anonymity of a global brand. In fact, Big Data (tut-tut, what a bad word) is the perfect tool to gain a better understanding of people’s wants and needs, whether by target groups or actual individuals. Granted, such an accumulation of almost all conceivable personal data is spooky in many ways. But in a nutshell: Deal with it! Just about every technological revolution harbours both opportunities and dangers. I urge everyone to take advantage of the opportunities.

martina.muellner@ucm-verlag.at Art direction/production Elisabeth Prock-Huber elisabeth@ucm-verlag.at Contributing writers Ina Köhler Kay Alexander Plonka Nicoletta Schaper Joachim Schirrmacher Veronika Zangl Image editor Johannes Hemetsberger Advertising director Stephan Huber stephan.huber@ucm-verlag.at Publisher’s assistant,

3. Personalisation certainly doesn’t mean that consumers will suddenly be able to create products themselves, always and everywhere. The vast majority have neither the time nor the desire nor (whether they admit it or not) the ability to do so. The chance to become a designer by choosing the sole colour of your sneakers is super exciting regarding gamification and communication, but it won’t dominate the market - at least not in the foreseeable future. However, in recent years examples such as Supreme and Off White should have made clear to us that there is a direct connection between limitation and desirability. “I own something that you don’t!” Individualisation always represents a desire for distinction. Not exactly news, is it? But it was very important to see this principle demonstrated once more in such a drastic manner. It points the way out of the cul-de-sac into which the 24/7 availability of almost EVERYTHING has manoeuvred us. Personalisation also means having to wait for something or not getting it at all. How amazingly exotic!


4. Last but not least, let me turn my attention to what I believe is the most important pillar of any success model: recognising the customer as an individual, i.e. as a single human entity. That’s the service aspect, right there. This is precisely where the decisive opportunity lies to turn a seemingly simple everyday purchase into a moment of memorable magic.

3671 Marbach, Austria

Sigrid Staber sigrid.staber@ucm-verlag.at Christina Hörbiger christina.hoerbiger@ucm-verlag.at English translations Manfred Thurner Printing sandlerprint&packaging

Printing coordinator Manfred Reitenbach

Can and will modern technology contribute? Well, of course. Does that mean humans become replaceable? No way! Yours truly, Stephan Huber stephan.huber@ucm-verlag.at 120

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Next issue 24 June 2019

Printemps/Été 2019 Adèle, Angèle et Lemmie Marseille

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