With a quickly growing men’s wear brand, Tillmann Lauterbach is in the midst of expanding his production, moving it from Belgium to Italy. In the last three seasons, he doubled his number of retailers to 26, which now includes L’Eclaireur and Dover Street Market.
Born in Germany and raised on the Spanish island of Ibiza by a mother who, according to her son, had the stamina to get by on bread and soup for a month to finance a sleek coat, Lauterbach understands the value of quality. His collections combine the savoir faire of some of Europe’s finest artisans, most of them still run by families, with the sartorial needs of a modern-day man who seeks functionality and fun.
To please his father, who did not think much of his son’s aspirations, Lauterbach trained in banking but modeled on the side to pay for a new education. In 2003, he graduated from Esmod in Paris with pattern-cutting techniques and an idea for a minimalist wardrobe with an air of understated elegance. On that premise, he launched a women’s wear collection for fall 2005, following up with men’s clothes two years later. He prefers to use raw fabrics that “have the ability to age with grace.” That means expensive cottons, heavy felt made with pig hair and denim cut and re-pleated by hand.
Lauterbach discontinued his women’s line in 2008 and in 2011, following the bankruptcy of his German investor group, he was forced to close the men’s end. He decided to relaunch just with men’s for spring 2013. “Today I think it’s the best thing that has ever happened to me,” he said. “It gave me the time to think whom I’m doing this for, really. There is a lot more happening in men’s wear right now, and in Paris especially there is a real niche for something different.”