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Who: Rolf Griesinger, Fashion Entrepreneur
He is the Grand Seigneur of fashion, being in the industry for more than 30 years. One who has seen it all and knows the fashion industry more than any other: Rolf Griesinger. For many years the sales-and product-manager pampered German companies and got them back on track, he took care of the distribution of the Joop and Kenzo licenses and was responsible for the product management of Falke-Fashion. Griesinger was involved in building the luxury brand René Lezard and brought, with his agency, international high-end labels to Germany. Since 1976, the in the Black Forest born Griesinger, who looks with his snow-white hair and tanned skin a bit like Gunter Sachs, lives in Munich. Here he opened the Meindl Authentic Luxury Store in 2012, where he clothed celebrities and privates with luxury Lederhosen. Even though the successful entrepreneur wanted to turn his back to the fashion-circus long ago.
MyStylery: Rolf, you really don’t look like a privateer in the retirement age to me.
Rolf Griesinger (laughs): This is what I thought too back then. Actually, I wanted to stop at the age of 55 and have a good life. But lunching with friends every day is too boring for me. I am neither a club-person nor suits me to play golf. Given that, I’m definitely not created for retired life.
MS: What was the challenge for you that made you try the plunge into the competitive retail again?
RG: When they offered me the store amidst the center of Munich, I immediately saw the potential. The ideal location near the Vierjahreszeiten, the Mandarin Oriental and the restaurant Schuhbeck corresponds to the radius of my clients, I just had to do it. Also, the traditional company Meindl was not present with an own shop in Munich and I was able to convince the Meindls with a cooperation and my concept.
MS: What’s your strategy?
RG: I did not plan the classic garb business, which is why we don’t have Dirndls. The idea to combine tradition with high fashion is much cooler and distinguishes us from the competitors. I just wanted to know again.
MS: The concept seems to be approved by your customers quite well. You even dress the players of FC Bayern.
RG: We now have around 800 regular customers, interestingly, many Swiss, Italians, Americans and many VIPs. But there are no celebrity bonuses. All clients receive the same treatment and attention. Even TV celebs don’t get free Lederhosen here (smiles).
MS: Were there any trends that you have misjudged in your long career?
RG: Yes, the impact of the Internet on the purchasing behavior of customers. I could not have imagined that women even order their evening dresses in the net without having touched the fabric. I did not expect that the online trading market will develop so rapidly.
MS: The clothing is similar to a concept store : You also present shoes, scarves, perfumes, watches, bags …
RG: With that I want to express my lifestyle. I like to discover the newcomers of the industry, and if I like a brand, then I’ll buy them.
MS: More and more stores close and retailoring has become an increasingly difficult and risky business.
RG: Yes, especially multi-brand shops are dying out. No wonder, given the exorbitant rents of commercial properties. That can only be afforded by the high-end labels, which in turn results in that the inner cities all look the same. I am an advocate with manageable dimensions. These can also be controlled better. Because in the end I am responsible for everything. I am proud that I didn’t need a Bank since ten years and that I am able to finance my business myself. This is an incredible feeling of freedom. For this, one needs no millions. It is a question of scale.
MS: You are the father of a grown-up son. Have you given him this attitude on his way?
RG: I think so. These are values that I stand for. The education of my son was important to me. A good education cannot be replaced. This includes staying abroad and foreign languages. My father was a watchmaker, I have a humble background and have always suffered from the fact that I am not so good with different languages.
MS: Is there still time for privacy given all the action? How do you relax?
RG: I am passionate motorcyclist. Cruising through the countryside with my Harley makes me happy. I’m not a champagne type, don’t need a yacht or other luxury. Here and there, I have taken hiatuses. After 25 years in product management I needed a change of scenery and traveled through Australia for several months. That was one of the best decisions ever.
MS: In addition you’re a convinced Ibiza lover. In Ibiza we have also come to know each other…
RG (laughs) Right. At the beach of Tropicana Beach Club. When I came there in the 70s, there were only hippies. Later I had a house up in San Juan and to my neighbors counted Jade Jagger, whose father Mick Jagger is good friends with Kate Moss and Nina Hagen. This was an interesting clique. The island was a paradise for sannyasins. But that was never my world, just as drugs and the today exaggerated luxury tourism. For that I am too homespun. BvH