Interview: Lodenfrey’s Elke Cecilia-Riehl
FA254’s collections can now be found in Lodenfrey, the premiere luxury department store in Munich. Lodenfrey’s head of womenswear Elke Cecilia-Riehl tells us about her own journey through the fashion industry and shares her message for young aspiring designers around the world.
Did you always want to be involved in fashion, or was it a surprise twist in your career?
I studied Business Administration but have always been interested in fashion. While studying I had some incidental jobs in the fashion industry. I enjoyed them so much that I decided to just continue working in the fashion industry after I graduated.
What do you love most about your job?
I enjoy working with interesting people and gaining new perspectives, be it through travelling, new collections or the people I meet along the way. It’s always great to discover a collection in showrooms, to put it up in the store, and in the end to watch customers purchasing it.
How would you describe your own fashion style?
I prefer the clean look and love the colour black.
Do you remember the very first time you became aware of African Fashion?
Funnily enough, it was through a visit in the museum. I have seen various African exhibits in the Buchheim Museum in Munich and began wandering what the women wore every day. Book volumes about Africa and indigenous tribes have always fascinated me.
When you see a new line or brand of clothing, what are you looking for?
First of all, I’m interested in the idea behind the collection. What does the designer want to express to me and how it is implemented? Then, if the label is comparable to others or stands out and then of course I see our customers. I also do think about whether the collection fits into our product portfolio. Alignment, price, quality and delivery times play an important role.
Do you think that African fashion is under-represented in the global industry?
Well, I think the portability is very important for the German market. In general, there are definitely not as many African designers as there are from Western European countries.
What do you think Lodenfrey offers people that can’t be found in other places? Why do people shop there?
I think Lodenfrey is a house for the whole family at a high level. It offers a unique customer service, a variety of brands and also sells a feeling of a healthy mix of tradition and modernity.
What advice do you have, as a buyer, to African designers ?
On the one hand they should keep the link to the origins of their culture and combine it with a certain “mainstream” aesthetic, keeping their pieces original but suitable for everyday use. Nowadays, the market is not as simple as 10 years ago, customers are more demanding and critical due to travelling and better access to information. One has to make a clear picture of the consumer but still focus on one’s line.