Words by: Pernille Hammershøj Madsen
”How can times be more surrealistic than now?” with this question the Parisian-based men’s wear designer Tillmann Lauterbach welcomed his guests to his show, at the Parisian fashion week for men’s wear fall/winter 2014/2015.
About questioning society
Tillmann Lauterbach’s collections are for people who care. His inspiration comes from realities in society instead of, for instance, butterflies or other phenomena of nature. This is why the Dadaist movement, along with the idea of the surrealistic times of our present was a source of inspiration for Tillmann. The Dadaist movement was about questioning society; it sought to challenge our interpretation of structures and even art. According to Tillmann this was all done with intelligence and its original intent – to question what we take for granted – is the core of Tillmann’s design philosophy.
Tillmann expressed his vision by drawing references to the Orange Revolution in Ukraine that took place in November 2004 until January 2005, expressing his sympathy for a population that had been oppressed by authorities and rich bourgeois families for ages. The reference, manifested itself in little hints in the choice of colour, for example, letting some of the models wear orange gloves, others orange footwear.
“For me, the colour orange is enough. I don’t think or expect that it’s going to influence at all, but at least it’s out there, and I believe it’s better to have inspiration from this than butterflies for example.” Tillmann explains and underlines the fact that a strong message doesn’t necessarily need a strong shout out:
“I think it’s good if people find a way to communicate a strong message – but if you really want to make a statement, you should go into politics, though as a designer you often have more freedom to express your opinion than politicians do, since you are not depending on what the majority of the population expects you to think. I am first of all a designer and my vocation is to make garments for people to wear – I am a craftsman really.”
A political decision
When asking Tillmann about his solution to these surrealistic times the answer is clear: it’s about making political decision. Consumers can choose to buy from environmentally and socially responsible companies rather than ones that place more importance on profit than ethical behaviour. Tillmann underlines the importance of the fact that big luxury brands are not necessarily combining quality and care for the environment, since it can be hard to combine these concerns, with stockholders’ demands for the highest profit possible.
“Already we are privileged to even be born in Europe, and to have the opportunities which follows. I don’t try to change structures in the big picture, but I try to deal with my own company in the best possible way”. Tillmann says, and emphasizes that only a successful company that is present in the market can have this impact:
“Our generation can still change this but it’s about making the decision to do so. If you don’t take a stand, someone else is going to do it for you. “
An honest relationship
“I try to run this company with a certain honesty in mind, even though it’s been a struggle ever since we started. Here everybody earns more than I do and I would rather put more money into salary and good fabrics, than into my own pocket.“ The garments of the Tillmann Lauterbach collections might seem simple from the outside, but behind them are hours and hours of work. The function of the garment, and the way you can adjust it to your figure is carefully thought through: “The main idea is a long term thinking about what we offer the client and how he can age with the it” Tillmann continues and adds: “It’s about the function of the garment, about it’s quality and comfort. As a child my mother would spend a lot of money on a Yohji Yamamoto coat or a Jill Sander jacket, even though we did not have that much money. I enjoyed touching and exploring these garments as they just seemed to become nicer with the time – after 35 years they were still beautiful.”
With this vision of an honest relationship between the company and the consumer Tillmann Lauterbach founded his men’s wear line seven years ago, when the big fashion houses seemed to have no more to offer for men’s wear. New designers began coming up with fresh approaches to the modern man’s wardrobe and Tillmann Lauterbach was one of them. With sports wear as the main source of inspiration, Tillmann would create bomber jackets out of the finest cashmere making him one of the few who managed to add a new elegance into the traditional interpretation of men’s wear. As a first step into becoming an eco-friendly collection, the Tillmann Lauterbach styles are produced in Belgium and Italy, sparing money and pollution on transportation.
Tillmann Lauterbach did not have to ask for his brand to appear in the official schedule of the Parisian men’s wear fashion week, as the French federation managing the fashion industry in France, just placed the label there after having seen it’s first collection. Being a magazine celebrating the slow movement and stressing the importance of visionary eco-friendly designers Less Magazine is proud to communicate the message of the Tillmann Lauterbach brand.
Tillmann Lauterbach portrait by Amira Fritz