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What I Look For: Emerging Designers at Retail with Lukas Grundtner of Grundtner & Söhne

November 11, 2014 BY STEVE DOOL

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All of Grundtner & Söhne's fans may not make the pilgrimage to Hallein, the town of 20,000 in the heart of Austria where the boutique makes its home nestled in a 600 year-old building. But the shop's founders, brothers Lukas and Simon Grundtner, haven't had much trouble garnering attention from outside of their hometown, thanks to their deliberately edited selection of emerging and established designers like Carven, Stutterheim, The Jante Law, Opening Ceremony and A Kind of Guise.

The labels carried at Grundtner & Söhne started out with a distinctly European point of view - Norse Projects, Libertine-Libertine and Our Legacy were among their first buys - but quickly expanded to an international roster that helps the shop defy easy categorization.

"We see our store on the border between fashion and contemporary menswear," said Lukas. "So we naturally balanced things out between rather classic and fashion brands."

The unifying trait of all product in the store, however, is quality. And as Lukas notes, "This means quality of the fabric, but also production."

Naturally, when looking at collections from emerging designers, that quality needs to be present in order for the team at Grundtner & Söhne to proceed. However, that's just one piece of the puzzle.

"A lot of [emerging] designers do not have a clear language," Lukas said. "They are rather look-a-like or try to copy someone. We like designers and brands who have a clear and precise aesthetic."

He points to Matthew Miller and Fanmail as two examples of designers who got it right early on.

"We bought Fanmail from their first collection," Lukas recalled. "We liked Charlie’s concept, focusing on simple, but clear cuts and colors, and also the idea that he only produces locally."

Lukas and Simon are always on the lookout for first-time designers who can add some individual flavor to the assortment at Grundtner & Söhne, but are hesitant to name names just yet.

But, as Lukas said, "if we think the brand is a perfect fit to our roster, we are not afraid to buy a designer’s first collection and love to show support from the beginning."

For more from the brothers at Grundtner & Söhne, visit grundtnerundsoehne.com.