Which fashion ideas have never really caught on?
What is fashion anyway?
Peter Eberle: Contemporary clothing that is fun ... an amplifier of your own personality ...
Dr. Gabriele Castegnaro: Fashion is definitely something that is always changing, something very individual. And it is becoming more and more individual through blogs, through various testimonials and through a very free way of dealing with what you can and cannot wear at the moment.
Is there a difference between fashion in Munich and fashion in Luxembourg, and what is on offer on these two markets?
Peter Eberle: Most of the offers are the same. Unfortunately, we are not supplied by various brands in either Munich or Luxembourg, although we would like to, because this brand is already positioned in this market via another dealer.
Do customers in Luxembourg and Munich react differently to fashion offers in general, to trends?
Peter Eberle: Internationally, the tastes are very similar, but there are a few characteristics that distinguish Luxembourg customers from German customers. In Luxembourg, for example, there is a little more emphasis on clothing for official, festive occasions. In Munich it is not a problem if five people are out and about in the same dress, because the likelihood that they will then meet at the same event is low. In Luxembourg, however, it could well happen that the neighbor wears the same clothes ... That would not be so exciting. The Luxembourg customer likes it more feminine.
What do you attribute that to?
Dr. Gabriele Castegnaro: It may actually have something to do with the fact that Munich is a big city and Luxembourg is a smaller entity. It may also be due to mentality that German women in particular do not really dare to live their femininity - the Luxembourg women perhaps a little more.
Dr. Tobias Ponn: I have the feeling that there are more social events in Luxembourg than in Munich. That the Munich customer may be looking for an outfit for the office, a Luxembourg customer more clothes for parties, communions ...
Dr. Gabriele Castegnaro: What is also noticeable: The Luxembourg women, but also the men in particular, pay great attention to value, i.e. that the goods and the workmanship are good, the whole thing should emanate a corresponding charisma. In Munich this is perhaps not that important, there you are perhaps more interested in a more fashionable piece that does not have to be that decisive in terms of processing and material.
What role do the new, fast media play today in the spread of fashion tendencies, trends?
Dr. Gabriele Castegnaro: An extremely big role. Most people are on the Internet for at least a few minutes, many for several hours a day. Official fashion sites are inflationary there, but there are also fashion blogs and some guerrilla sites that not only show celebrities and celebrities with the latest trends, but also ordinary people on the street. There is a format, The Sartorialist, in which people who have a very good style or who are somehow coherent or dressed in an interesting way are depicted. This is how people get information, they see something they like and then come to the store very well informed about the brands and what's trending. Sometimes the employees have to make sure that they keep up with their own information in order to be able to act as a competent partner to such customers.
When Konen took over Bram 30 years ago: What was the understanding of men's, women's, children's and youth fashion at that time? How was the purchasing behavior compared to today? How did you react to trends back then?
Peter Eberle: That has changed a lot. At that time people were basically shopping twice a year, there was a summer collection and a winter collection. The purchase took about four weeks at the time, after which the issue was settled. Buyers got this worried and might go shopping again at the end of the season to get things that were still in stock. This is no longer the case today. Basically, shopping never ends for us: Different brands have ten to twelve programs a year. We have to go to the manufacturer almost every four weeks and choose the respective topics.
Dr. Gabriele Castegnaro: This in turn has to do with the extent to which customers are informed. The sooner I see 'just in time' what anyone in Los Angeles is wearing on the street, the sooner desires for such trends are aroused - and it is a great challenge for us to do justice to it. That wasn't the case in the past; people were more likely to be inspired and dictated what to wear - the situation is much more complex today.
Does a current trend give you any indication of what may become a trend in the coming seasons? Does one trend influence the next? Is there any logic?
Peter Eberle: Yes sure. First and foremost, of course, in their conversations with the manufacturers, the buyers get to know what's going to be fashionable, especially at the manufacturer presentations ...
Dr. Gabriele Castegnaro: ... actually there are some indications at the fabric fairs.
Peter Eberle: Yes, ultimately there are several stages. The cornerstones for the trends are laid at the yarn fairs. Before the fabrics are woven, the first color trends are already announced at these trade fairs. This then gives rise to the fabric tendencies, and these are then combined into the corresponding items of clothing. Nevertheless, because of today's speed, there are always some developments in between ... When the designer shows take place in Milan, the normal collections have basically all been written. But there are many manufacturers who react immediately, reiterate certain trends and then move their future collections in this direction. Nowadays there is no longer this one trend that lasts for half a year - more like a fraction of a year ...
Dr. Gabriele Castegnaro: There is also some logic in the sequence. If there are very bright colors on it, then it is almost clear that there will be calming down afterwards. The only question is when...
Generate trend countertrends ...
Dr. Gabriele Castegnaro: Exactly. There are trend researchers in our industry who we work with. They watch the fashion shows and the trends of the designers very closely, and they tell our buyers what they would be betting on ... That is a certain amount of advice, I say carefully - but no guarantee!
So trend research is not a science?
Dr. Gabriele Castegnaro: No, definitly not.
Dr. Tobias Ponn: In the end, the small but subtle difference is made by the composition of the staff, i.e. our buyers, who have to have a sure instinct, this certain sensitivity for weak signals to emerging trends, so that we can react to them at an early stage. That makes the subtle difference in the quality of the purchase.
It must also be very exciting to help steer a counter-trend?
Dr. Gabriele Castegnaro: Well ... For a very, very long time, drainpipe trousers for women, very crisp, narrow trousers, have been in fashion. Today, however, it is still not a halfway serious trend to see that this would change - it has been going on for several seasons. This also has to do with a basic tendency: such tight, tight pants really look good on women. This will probably stay that way for a long time, and it is important to recognize that too. If a fashion lasts that long, then it is also an expression of the attitude to life, a form of well-being: Once you are used to wearing nice, soft, fluffy cashmere items, then it is very unlikely that you will ever get scratchy again , incorrectly fitting parts will be used ...
Peter Eberle: Nevertheless, the designers keep trying to break this, too, but without success. What also fits in with this trend story with the narrow, tight-fitting shirts: It has also become established for men that this slim silhouette is customary nowadays. The most varied of designers try again and again to promote the double-breasted suit or trousers with pleats, but the time is not yet ripe for the consumer to go along with it.
Dr. Gabriele Castegnaro: ... and that it also reaches a wider audience. Perhaps there are individuals who are informed who are interested, but these trends simply do not take hold.
Which fashion sin has been particularly bad in the last few decades?
Peter Eberle: A very bad one must go back to about the mid-80s, and it came back again in the 90s: orange and apple green ...
Dr. Tobias Ponn: That was a nightmare, a real nightmare. We have such parts in the so-called Christmas box, in which we dispose of what is no longer for sale ...
Dr. Gabriele Castegnaro: Back then, when I was doing my A-levels, I was working in sales at Konen in Munich, and I can still clearly remember these orange-green stands. It almost made you sick. But these are also colors that don't suit anyone, hardly anyone can wear them!
Which fashion trends or ideas have persisted in the last few decades, which ones have become evergreens?
Dr. Gabriele Castegnaro: So what has become basic is of course jeans ...
Peter Eberle: And what I would not have thought possible in this form is these narrow trousers for men and women. Non-iron shirts, cashmere sweaters ...
Peter Eberle: What will stay safe is the topic of modular suit - a terrible name for the possibility that you don't have to buy a complete suit, i.e. pants and jacket in the same size, but that you can virtually combine the sizes in the same fabric.
Dr. Gabriele Castegnaro: What I felt was no longer trendy for many years but popped up again five years ago - that is the dress. It has become a classic, in many different styles. A clear trend that is going back towards femininity.
Peter Eberle: In the case of women, the trend is generally in the direction of what we from purchasing always call individual parts. So that the customer no longer buys a complete outfit, which is coordinated one-to-one, but that pants and tops and sweaters are put together, sometimes from different manufacturers, sometimes with different directions.
Dr. Gabriele Castegnaro: Just as you used to buy a complete bedroom, you used to choose a completely coordinated outfit, preferably with the right jewelry and shoes. Today it is the trend to put together very different parts, also from very different price ranges and from different stylistic directions. One often does not see at first glance whether it is a very cheap piece or a very, very expensive designer part. Mixing that also creates a certain tension and individuality.
One of the Bram slogans is "Créer la maison de mode parfaite". What is a perfect fashion house?
Dr. Tobias Ponn: The perfect fashion house is where the customer feels comfortable and likes to go shopping. You can quickly get to the point. The only question is how do I know what the customer would like and where they feel comfortable.
Dr. Gabriele Castegnaro: What is particularly important at Bram and what you may not even be aware of at the first contact is the charisma of the people who work in such a business. When the customer walks into a shop and is sampled from top to bottom, it makes a completely different impression than when you are warmly received and greeted in a friendly manner. It is also important that you just let the customer be that way, accept people as they are, without judging and especially without devaluing. Another important point is how colleagues interact with one another, i.e. whether the employees live in a culture of fear, whether they are afraid of their superiors, whether they whisper or have to hide ... or whether they have an open, relaxed relationship with one another. The customer notices that immediately!
So no success without a good working atmosphere ...
Dr. Gabriele Castegnaro: We believe that the way in which the executives and also the management treat the employees is reflected one to one in the relationship between the employee and the customer. That is a very important point! In a business as customer-intensive as we do, the way we treat our employees is of crucial importance.
How does the Bram management achieve this goal?
Dr. Gabriele Castegnaro: That is only possible if you yourself are ready to integrate your own downsides. When I'm lazy as the boss and say "Nobody controls me and I never get any feedback", when I don't have any form of empathy, but first of all I don't have any knowledge of human nature ... then it becomes very difficult, to some extent to be sensitive to the other person. The way in which you deal with yourself is the most important prerequisite for how you deal with other people and how much you generally value the topic of relationship quality. I do believe that we in the management have subjected ourselves to one or the other measure, and we also expect the same from our employees: that someone wants to develop further as a person, and that one does not at some point lay on the lazy skin and assert oneself , You're great the way you are, and if something doesn't work, it's the other's fault anyway. This also includes the willingness to see how your own impact is, where your own weak points are. And the will to deal with it as lovingly as possible, to accept it and to improve something in interpersonal contact. It is this basic requirement, this form of appreciation and respect for oneself - and thus also for the other. It's about the other person noticing that I am friendly, that I approach them with respect and that I do not immediately stumble upon the matter. It is also essential that, as a line manager, one very clearly separates performance and what is happening in the matter from the person concerned. Nobody becomes a bad person because they put up a bad back wall or made a bad decoration. Separating that too is a very important point. So there are many little things that require mindfulness and that we try to live with our customers and Bram. To achieve this, our employees are trained. But they also have to be consistent with people who don't participate; they have to set very clear boundaries. It is not to be underestimated how many people simply do not want to deal with themselves. But that is the basic requirement for something to develop at all and for something to be changed. Someone who always feels like a victim and says he can't change anything anyway is unlikely to be happy in our culture.
Dr. Tobias Ponn: At the core of it all, we are ultimately an economically active company. We attach great importance to creating a performance environment in which the employee can develop, develop and perform - and on the other hand, it must also be clearly communicated that this performance is required in the second step.
Dr. Gabriele Castegnaro: There is an interview with Konen that is entitled "We are not a therapy institution". We're not about making the world a better place or really doing deep psychological things with people. We are of the opinion that everyone is responsible for himself and that everyone decides as a healthy and free person whether he wants to come to us and also want to undergo our further development measures. Whereby we also have to draw a clear line when it becomes pathological, because we have no claim to improvement or cure. But some confuse that.
All three of them weren't there when Konen took over the Bram house 30 years ago. But haven't similar corporate cultures also led to the merger of the two companies?
Peter Eberle: I can well imagine that back then, when Messrs. Bram and Dr. Godl got together and talked about the takeover, the respective values of the two houses were pretty close.
Dr. Gabriele Castegnaro: I don't think such things happened consciously back then. It was probably a lot of elements that went together. We, the young generation, began to deal intensively with such things about thirteen years ago. First of all, we took a look at where things actually went wrong and then approached this topic. It is still a big task to integrate this branch in Luxembourg, which is far away from us, into the Konen culture.
Peter Eberle: It has always been a habit at Konen and Bram to organize company parties on a regular basis for the employees. We don't just want to work together, we also want to celebrate together.It is important to us not to mix Bram and Konen too much, we want the employees at the two locations to experience their own appreciation.
Dr. Gabriele Castegnaro: But I want to underline that both Konen and Bram enjoy celebrating properly. We have a real party spirit.
Here Luxembourgers and Bavarians come very close ...
Dr. Gabriele Castegnaro: Yes, they are very similar there. Incidentally, the Luxembourg executives are coming to Munich for the Oktoberfest this year ...
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