You’ve just returned from a 10-day excursion into the Canadian back country, is this something you do often?
I hunt and hike often near my home in Kirchanschöring (within Bavaria, south-eastern Germany) but also try travel to rural destinations twice a year to explore new places. Yukon is the smallest and westernmost Canadian territory and the most sparsely populated. It was just myself and a single guide on horseback — experiencing nature the old fashioned way. You are completely alone without any communication with the world and have to be very conscious of your surroundings (lots of big, curious bears) and the level of your supplies. Some days, when it rains, all you can do is read a book in your tent. I find my creative juices flow more freely when I detach completely from my usual routine.
You were born into a family business of fashion and functional apparel and footwear that is over three centuries old. Did you ever have a choice to do anything else?
Oh absolutely, my parents never pressured me into anything, but when I was 13-years-old I snuck into the factory and made myself a denim jacket with an inner shell that immediately turned heads. I wore it in town and people wanted to buy it, or buy one like it. But I made it for myself and wasn’t going to share it. Two years later a big buyer came to the Meindl stand at a sports show and politely demanded that we produce 60 pieces like it immediately. I now saw the potential and was on my way to a career designing and creating a mixture of modern fashion and traditional lifestyle apparel, via training as a clothing technician and then a tailoring apprenticeship.
Take us through your design philosophy?
I’m an urban mountain man. We are inspired by both nature, particularly the mountains surrounding our HQ in Kirchanschöring and equally by urban life. Clothing has to work for a meeting in the city but also be functional in the mountains and the woods. A product progresses through multiple stages from its inception as an idea to a sketch and onto production via several adjustments and enhancements. We opt for hand over machine wherever possible allowing the eventual purchaser the knowledge that their piece has been crafted with care, while respecting the environment. We choose our suppliers very carefully and have been working with the same partners for decades, particularly with tanneries which comply with strict environmental standards.