From start-up to love brand … in only two years
Mannheim is a fashion city: brands such as Schumacher and Von Jungfeld started their journeys here, and new names are constantly arising. A very special success story is that of Liebesglück. In our interview marketing director Elena Engel has told us all about what makes Mannheim a fashion city of love, and how the Brand made its way to become an established name in the industry, in just two years.
Elena, tell us how Liebesglück was founded!
It may sound strange, but everything started with a simple blouse. In 2016 an international fashion brand released a very basic blouse, which had quite the impact. It didn’t look spectacular, but it sold very well. Within the fashion scene here in Mannheim everyone was exchanging views on this phenomenon, and suddenly the idea came about: why not not give it a shot? We had the necessary know-how – we felt we could really do this! We connected with a manufacturer, capable of delivering high-quality product, at a good price. Since then we have been creating classic pieces, with a modern twist. This was the beginning of Liebesglück.
Tell us about the Liebesglück crew!
The brand is a community effort. The collection speaks for itself. We consist of a regional pool of experts, coming from production, retail, design, marketing and distribution. My expertise lies in marketing and communication, and in this function I speak for the entire collective. What connects us all is our upbringing in the region, a passion for great fashion, and experience in the textile sector. Our aim ist to bridge the gap, which we had all discovered at the same time.
Fair enough, no name-dropping! Would you like to give us some info on yourself? What led you to fashion?
I originally come from a marketing agency background, and worked for a large agency here in Mannheim for several years. Our largest client at that time was the cult brand Miss Sixty, which many people will remember. I was in charge of their account for many years. Sadly SIXTY is not around anymore, which goes to show how rough the industry can be. It’s very important for brands to keep the right direction, as the landscape is in constant flux. For a while after that I was in broadcasting, and one day I got a call from Liebesglück, asking for my support. I listened to my heart and jumped into the adventure with this great team. This happened in July of 2017, and since then business has picked up at rapid pace. We will often have to brace ourselves, as we aim for continuous growth and stability.
What sets you apart from other big names in the fashion industry?
For one, our sales model is quite unique. In the fashion world a lot functions via preorders. This entails that retailers will have to decide on the summer lines, while freezing in the autumn rain, so to say. Or you might be fully stocked with down coats, while outside everyone is sweating in the summer sun. We have set out to break this cycle up. Anyone interested in supplying their customers with clothing that matches the season, is a potential client for us. If you want to stock up last minute, we can react fast, and this saves us unnecessary storage costs.
Sounds revolutionary! How hard is it to change these rigid retail structures?
You’re right on the money! We have often clashed with the previous conventions in retail. With many buyers the budgets are set, and once the money’s gone … that’s it! Slowly though a major change in thinking is coming about. In 2018 for example, nobody saw such a long summer coming. This led to supply problems. With Liebesglück you can easily obtain the product you require, in time with the seasons and the trends.
Do you offer seasonal collections in a classic sense?
We do not offer a unified collection. Herein though lies our biggest strength. We can react to things fast and freely. We will offer our retailers exactly what they don’t have in stock, but are looking for. We break down our collections into three so-called capsules. At the moment we are shipping a lot of blazers, pants, long skirts and blouses – in a multitude of looks. Glencheck is quite en vouge, as are oversize knitwear designs, color blocking and showy dresses with prints. Our target group is broadly formulated. We’re the right brand for anyone who loves fashion and likes to stay up to date trend-wise. Liebesglück is a power label, that wants to make women glow!
Where can one find your pieces?
Liebesglück is often available at big retailers, such as Engelhorn, Breuniger or Reichmann. It’s a real honor to be accepted by such names, as a small label. We also supply smaller boutiques, who represent our brand with real heart and love. These family-owned businesses will choose just the pieces that fit their style. Whenever we visit trade shows we can count on making wonderful new contacts, which we really cherish. These people share our spirit and transport it on to their customers. Once they place their orders, it takes us six weeks to get the product to them. Aside from this they can always order according to demand and weather, through our stocklist, which we regularly send out. Whoever is interested in getting a good overview of our brands whole spectrum, should visit us in our flagship store in the Quartier Q 6 Q 7, in Mannheim.
That store was originally planned as a pop-up store, thus only temporary, correct?
The feedback was phenomenal! So in the end, we decided to make it permanent. Mannheim is place for stylish, experimental, colorful, diverse and open people, which makes it the perfect spot to test new ideas. If you’re looking for something special, come over to our store!
Speaking of Mannheim … where is your headquarters?
All of our designs are created in Mannheim. Our showroom, in the Textilerei start-up center, is also where our offices and creative lab are. We set up meetings here, but it’s also a great place to concentrate on your own projects. I love the Textilerei! All these great creative labels are door-to-door, and we will usually also schedule press and client meetings here. Our logistics and distribution offices are in Brühl, which is strategically located right outside the city. It’s not far, and offers enough space. Production is handled completely in Italy, which is also where we order our fabrics. We have great agencies and manufacturers as partners there, which is necessary to keep things in line in manufacturing. Everyone involved is passionate about what we do, and gives 100%. This was crucial for the brand to get where it is now, but our heart is firmly situated in Mannheim. Liebesglück was born through a very special community, and a great network, which encourages working together rather than against one another. That is the spirit!
Tell us about your cooperations within Mannheim!
We are closely collaborating with the graphic design branch, of the Mannheim ‘Akademie für Kommunikation’, in the Augustaanlage. This summer we held a contest to create print designs there for our bags and shirts. The designs were then shown at our trade fair stand in Berlin. We’re looking forward to a second edition in 2019! In the coming year we will be celebrating 100 years of Bauhaus, which I am quite excited about. The designs will probably be great! We also just finished up a project with the Bauhaus fashion design faculty, which produced designs for a Liebesglück blouse – our signature piece, so to say! I am quite sure some of those designs will make it to production. Another project we really enjoyed was a collaboration with Timo Kumpf and his Maifeld Derby team, in 2017. We designed and supplied all the staff shirts, and also set up a pop-up booth at the festival, which offered bags and dresses, which were really popular!
Is this form of regional support, with its simultaneous boost of brand exposure, part of the Liebesglück philosophy?
As we come from around these parts and know how much potential it has to offer creatively, we feel very connected to the region, and Mannheim in particular. Of course we branch out through online marketing, bloggers and other retailers, but we really appreciate the support we get here. We also supply the RON TV hosts with our pieces, for example, and feel very indebted to the region in general. This is where everything started, and where our roots are. The tight knit infrastructure in Mannheim, with its great marketing options, is what allowed us to expand the way we have.
How far does your sales territory reach?
At the moment we operate Germany-wide, and are currently interested in expanding to some neighboring countries. We are currently making great sales in the Munich area also. Through our visits at trade fairs in Berlin we have learned that our pieces are well received outside of Germany as well, which has gotten several international distributors interested in collaborating with us. Given our German brandname one could think it could limit our scope, but this is not the case. Once we give insight into the meaning of our logo and brandname, the feedback is always great. This has led us to broaden our outlook internationally, but we want to do our homework, and not hurry anything unnecessarily. To achieve healthy and continuous growth, in unison with our clients, while also optimizing our collections and processes, is our main objective.
Last question: If Liebesglück was a cafe, how would it look?
I assume it might look a lot like Fräulein Schiller, which is right around the corner from Textilerei. Both them and us have built their visions through passion and personal initiative, thus continuously developing into strong brands.
Interview: Andreas Stanita / LA.MAG
Photos: Ricardo Wiesinger