Germany is famous for a lot of things—cars, electric appliances, bread, beer, and more cars. It is a shame, however, that when you think of Germany, fashion does not easily spring to mind. Sure, its neighboring cousins, Milan, Paris, and London, seem to be leading the pack when it comes to designer brands. Nonetheless, let us assure you that Germany, with their minimal, structured, and design-first aesthetic, also houses a thriving fashion scene.
Although designer brands from the Deutschland tend to lie particularly low in the radar, the “Made in Germany” trademark is renowned to the world, especially to those who value quality to be paramount. Same with their celebrated craftsmanship in automobile, Germany’s fashion authorities boast the same discipline, artistry, and workmanship. That is why you can find the most hard-wearing and reliable apparel in Germany.
With that in mind, here is a rundown of designer brands Germany has to offer.
Ashley Marc Hovelle
First on our list is the eponymous brand of Ashley Marc Hovelle, a former Fred Perry designer and tailor of Savile Row. Launched in June 2009, Hovelle’s brand, also known as AMH, is now celebrating almost a decade of offering nothing but premium men’s apparel. AMH is renowned for its clean aesthetic that focuses on jerseywear. Inspired by retro-cool details, AMH also uses vibrant patterns, contrasting prints, and embroidery in its designs. Sold in over 30 countries, the brand is stocked in the world’s best stores including Nordstrom, Colette, and Isetan.
As a promising designer, Bobby Kolade, is a force to be reckoned with. He first launched his eponymous brand in 2013 and subsequently won the Start Your Fashion Business, a design contest in Germany. In fact, the same collection he presented for his fashion design course in Berlin’s Academy of Arts and in the said contest ended up being his debut collection. Never the one to play it safe, Kolade’s eclectic collections that features different textures are always the talk of the town.
Founded in 1969 by Bernd Freier in a 25-square-meter shop in Würzburg, the company was then known as Sir Oliver. The “Sir” was added to the brand name to give the shop a London flair. Now headquartered in Rottendorf, s.Oliver expanded tremendously since its humble beginning. Slowly taking over the world, s.Oliver operates stores in 30 countries including Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Bosnia, and India among others. Once a tiny clothing company, s.Oliver is now one of the largest fashion companies in Europe that offers a wide range of assortments including apparel, shoes, jewelry, fragrances, and accessories. Under the s.Oliver brand, three lifestyle segments that target different buying public are being managed: s.Oliver Casual for men and women leisure fashion; QS by s.Oliver for teens and young adults; and s.Oliver Selection for the more stylish and elite customers.
Antonia Zander’s sophisticatedly styled and perfectly tailored knitwear is a fashion statement anyone should own. Using cashmere that is 100% sourced from Italy and hand-knitted in Poland, you can bet your life that the brand’s iconic garments are of highest art and quality. But before Antonia headed the brand, the Cashmere label was actually founded by her mother, Elke Zander, in 1980s as a small shop in Bavaria. It is during this time that Antonia, playing with fabrics and buttons, knew that fashion was her calling. And the rest, as they call it, is history.
Another specialty store that focuses in knitwear is lala Berlin, a German label that has continuously developed since its inception in 2004. Founded by Leyla Piedayesh, the brand explores the style concept of urban cool meets elegant chic. In 2007, lala Berlin reached a new high after presenting her S/S 2007 collection in the Mercedes Benz Fashion week. Its unique use of natural yarns and innovative techniques of material combinations, like silk, cashmere, and smooth jersey, during this time lead to a nomination for the New Faces Awards. Since then, lala Berlin became a representation of Berlin’s avant-garde and boheme style while anchored to a high standard of quality.
Next on the list is JOOP!, a luxury brand that specializes in fragrances and contemporary design of fashion items, including clothes and accessories. Designer Wolfgang Joop founded the brand in Hamburg in 1986. The exclamation mark at the end of Joop was added to easily distinguish the brand from the designer. The brand received further attention with the launch of its fragrance line in 1987. JOOP! stands out easily as an international lifestyle brand that is highly coveted by strong and confident men and women with affinity to fashion.
In 1967, Marc O’Polo was founded in Stockholm by the three creative minds of Rolf Lind, Gote Huss, and Jerry O’Sheets. Its first ever store in Dusseldorf, Germany opened in 1979. While slowly expanding, Marc O’Polo decided to relocate its headquarters from Stockholm to Stephanskirchen, Germany in 1997. Its comprehensive collection of casual wear and accessories for men and women owns a distinct, timeless, and relax signature style, easily making it a sought-after brand internationally.
Offering nothing but top quality apparel made from best fabrics and created with impeccable tailoring, Escada is a leading player in the German fashion scene. It was in 1978 when Margaretha and Wolfgang Ley presented their very first collection, still under the then brand name, ESCADA & Sporty Elegance. A former Swedish model, Margaretha knew exactly what women wants—feminine clothing that exudes elegance. Escada achieved this particular look without the need to shy away from strong and bold details and bright color combinations.
If you are looking for outerwear that is both fashionable and durable, G-Lab is your brand. With a vision of producing supreme weatherwear, founder Björn Gericke established the brand in 2009. In 2017, after achieving a worldwide success, Gericke decided to relaunch the brand to realign its brand image while reorganizing sales and pushing the collection far ahead. Regardless, with or without the said relaunch, G-Lab remains a high performing brand that effortlessly combines functionality and high-end fashion.
Hugo Ferdinand Boss founded his eponymous line in 1924. The long history of Hugo Boss, now stylized as BOSS, is often up for debate with its controversial contribution in the World War II by making uniforms for the Nazi Party. After the war, in 1950, Boss’ son-in-law, Eugen Holy, took over ownership of the company, and turned away from producing uniforms to making men’s suits. Aware of the actions of its founder during the war, BOSS issued a statement in 2011 that relays its profound regret to the people who suffered and faced harm at the factory run by Hugo Boss himself. Fast forward to today, BOSS remains as one of the German fashion brands that successfully evolved to an internationally acclaimed fashion house with its array of products including apparel and fragrance.
Out next entry is another of Wolfgang Joop’s labels, Wunderkind. Launched in 2004, Wunderkind was made for the modern, stylish, independent woman. The label often features what would be described as bohemian-like—abstract prints, asymmetry take center stage in the designs. The results are couture-like in appearance, apparel that balances the masculine finishes with smooth, flowing fabrics.
A Kind Of Guise
Germany is home to both classic and established labels, as well as young and hot ones. A Kind of Guise falls under the latter category. Started by Yasar Ceviker and Susi Streich in 2009, the brand is seen as an the antithesis of the Germany’s rather conservative style. A Kind of Guise is unafraid of being eclectic, taking references from as far as Mongolia, but manages to make it an all-German product by preferring materials that can be found locally. The quality isn’t one to be dismissed too; besides being eye-catching, the clothes are also made to last.
Phillip Bree left the family business to establish his own, and from what we’re seeing, it is the right decision. While you don’t normally associate leather with Germany, PB 0110 is bound to change your opinion. Its expertly crafted leather goods will be something you want to keep in your collection, especially its bags that come in different options. Regardless of what you take from the label, you’re granted an item made of natural leather that will only become more beautiful in time.
Triumph is among the top labels originating in Germany, and is also among those with the longest legacies. Founded in 1886, the brand came to be associated with lingerie and other accessories that make women look great while also having the perfect fit. Its selection varies from matching sets, lacy brassieres, as well as shapewear. Those who wear them can feel great underneath as well as supported as they go about their daily lives.
Dorothee Schumacher is a German brand made for women, by women. It loves to dress up those who expect a lot from life and live passionately. Founded in 1989, Dorothee Schumacher and its collection is replete with modern and sophisticated silhouettes that come in lightweight fabrics, meant to look beautifully while a lady takes her strides. In creating apparel for women that look chic and feminine, Dorothee Schumacher does not trade off mobility and freedom, which goes to show that dressing up is not mutually exclusive with discomfort.
In Germany and the rest of Europe, talking about outdoor apparel and gear will lead you to Jack Wolfskin. Founded in 1981, it is among the top and biggest manufacturers of apparel intended for outdoor sports and other activities. The brand’s success can be owed mostly to its combining of form with utility, and providing great freedom to the wearer while protecting him from the elements. Along this goal, Jack Wolfskin is also unafraid to innovate, introducing to the industry TEXAPORE fabrics that are waterproof and windproof as well as breathable.
You cannot be faulted for thinking that Adidas originated elsewhere—it is deeply embedded in street and sneaker culture that it is easy to mistake it as coming from the United States. But it is actually a German brand, brought to the world by Adolf Dassler, and is among the most recognizable brands around the world. The brand with the three stripes is recognizable everywhere, owing to its most famous releases that include Stan Smith and Superstar, its use of breathable fabrics and materials that continue to develop to this day, as well as collaborations with big names such as Yohji Yamamoto, Kanye West, Raf Simons and Stella McCartney.
When we discussed Adidas earlier, we failed to mention Adolf’s brother Rudolf, who used to work with the former until sibling rivalry split them apart. Rudolf then founded his own company, which undoubtedly rings a bell for sneakerheads, but is a tad less famous than adidas: Puma. That does not mean that its releases are less in quality, however. The brand has its own share of iconic sneakers like the Puma Clyde, Suede and State. It has also formed partnerships with Rihanna, Alexander McQueen and Solange Knowles, among others, with Rihanna even becoming the creative director for the women’s department.
Jil Sander has come to be a top designer associated not only with Germany but also the rest of Europe, and is probably among the best examples to represent German minimalism that also appealed to Scandinavian sensibilities. Her influence has been incomparable, with her even being dubbed as the “Queen of Less”. Although she has long left her eponymous house, her collections that feature uncomplicated yet sophisticated articles continue to be favorites across the globe.
Although it had a rocky history that led to a dip in sales in the 90s, MCM’s legacy cannot be denied, especially its prevalence during the hedonistic 80s during which its leather pieces are seen as extravagant and flashy. Founded by Michael Cromer in 1976 and now owned by Korean Sungjoo Group, the releases are relatively tamer, but they continue to come in quality leather with metallic finishes that scream luxury.
What German brands lack in recall they make up in quality, comparable to neighboring fashion capitals. Although the country is known for its minimalist style, there is still variety in tastes ranging from the toned down to the loud and proud, as proven by the names on this list, some of which may have probably surprised you with their German origins. The land of cars, bread, sausages and Oktoberfest has such a remarkable fashion scene that it makes one wonder why there isn’t more love for it. Learning from this list, you shouldn’t skip it and its designers next time you’re looking to splurge and treat yourself.
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