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German fashion brands

Not only the glittering designer names are successful with fashion in Germany.

© dpa/Marcus Golejewski/Geisler-Fotopress - Berlin Fashion Week

The eyes of the fashion world may be focused on the Berlin Fashion Week or renowned designers from the world’s capital cities, but popular day-wear clothing brands often hail from towns with much less famous names. Idstein or Rottendorf, for example, make you think of small, provincial firms rather than haute couture. The German fashion industry is characterized by solid companies with a feel for the right kind of branding and expanding resolutely abroad. Although the labels are developed and organized in Germany, the clothing itself is often produced under strict supervision in Asia – and sold all over the world.

The origin of some brands is not always immediately recognizable – but the companies behind such popular names as s.Oliver, Tom Tailor or Mustang are German. s.Oliver, based in Rottendorf, Bavaria, has been registered as a trade mark since 1979. The company began expanding in the mid-1990s, focusing on extending its collections and boosting its licence business. In 1995 turnover totalled 245 million euros; by 2013 sales had passed the 1.6 billion euro mark and the company had 7,500 employees worldwide. Tom Tailor from Hamburg reported a turnover of more than 900 million euros for the 2013 fiscal year.

Sportswear from Schwabmünchen

In addition to the traditional clothing business, German companies are also successful in certain specialized fields. Jack Wolfskin, for example, is the market leader in outdoor and functional clothing. Although the company now belongs to a U.S. investor, it originally comes from Idstein, Hesse. Schöffel, a traditional company from Schwabmünchen, Bavaria, also operates in the sports segment.

Such German products are popular, also outside of Germany. The industry association German Fashion, which represents 300 clothing companies based or operating in Germany, reported approximately five-percent growth in export sales in the first half of 2014. Clothing worth 6.8 billion euros was sold abroad. Most goes to the neighbouring countries, particularly the Netherlands, Austria and France. The growth of exports is the “engine of our success,” says German Fashion.

Berlin Fashion Week, 19 – 23 January 2015