Alexander Lochner, owner of the store Lochner Top Fashion & Shoes in Burghausen in Germany has joined the store which already exists since 1939 in 2002 and since that time is heading the buying after several years in Italy where he was responsible for international labels. Here, he talks about why this store could also be located in a larger city, but still doesn’t seem to be out of place.

“Bestsellers are still chinos. Especially the further development – meaning colored chinos. Red, green and several mint or blue shades by Closed were sold out within just a few days. Moreover, we also make good money with silk blouses or tops right now, that simply make the look more interesting. In this section, we could have sold even more items! Our most popular brands are Closed, Drykorn, Velvet and Custommade. My personal favourite labels in the store are Closed, Velvet and L’autre Chose. In general, I like Acne, Burberry Prorsum, Lanvin und Rick Owens.

Denim still is an important segment. Although denim this summer -even if still on a very high level- definitely belongs to the underdogs. We first sell at least 2, rather 3 chinos and a dress… before we sell a pair of jeans again. Nevertheless, we believe very strongly in colored denim for next summer.

The label has become rather secondary for jeans in the meantime, the Washing has to be right. Surprisingly, right now destroyed looks with an ankle length to willow are very well accepted again. In addition, the baby boot-cut slowly arrives in the broad market. For fall, we also believe in the comeback of the flared cut, though. In this segment we were always doing a good job already. When five seasons ago all the retailers complained about the flared jeans, because you can’t wear them with boots, it was our top seller. Newly combined with a silk blouse, a ‘Biedermeier’ cardigan and high heels it will definitely be a highlight again this time! Regarding the washings, it will become pretty quiet. The focus is rather on quality. Extremely soft denims become more and more important.

Our VIP customers buy entire outfits in the first place. Most of the time, they already know about the most important trends. But they never want the complete look of one brand. The more the brands are mixed and the more individual the outfit, the better. Eventually, there’s nothing worse than a girlfriend wearing the exact same outfit, right?

We start dealing with the new buying season very soon most of the time. Thus, we have, for instance, already discussed weeks ago which themes we expect from our distributors for s/s 2012. Not always everything is just the way we wanted it to be, but in the end the look still is right. Somewhere you still find someone who created exactly the thing we were looking for.

For our research we are looking, next to the designer shows and Fashion Week in Berlin, also at most diverse blogs. Here, you can find new trends often very early already But. at least as important as this are the people on the streets in big cities or metropolises. We get inspiration from everywhere…magazines, internet, movies/series…

For f/w 2011/12, probably the camel coat will be THE piece above all. Last season there was way too little variety, it was hardly seen on the streets. In general, the subject of outdoor will become interesting once again. The variety in the end is larger than ever. Again down, new woolen coats, fur. And nothing excludes the other. We also have –although this is completely untypical for us- bought relatively a lot of color for this winter. Bright red, bottle green, cyclamen, curry,brick… I think finally it is going into a cleaner, dressed-up direction again. Also the whole lumberjack theme that was once again propagated in Berlin, we completely left out. This look we already have sold for two winter seasons. We bet on a lot of cashmere in new forms (short and boxy), silk blouses, fur, corduroy pants and many, many blazers.
Lochner selection
Lochner selection

Our customers expect a small surprise every season. This fall, this will be our private label. (Cashmere!) Whereas we are, next to our main distributors, very open-minded for new stuff. Especially for the last seasons we have been getting very adventurous. And this is necessary to stand out from large stores in Munich or Salzburg.

L’autre Chose, for instance, is a relatively unknown RTW label that has crossed our way last season. A small, Italian company with the highest demand in quality and class. Originally, it was a shoe manufacturer, ready-to-wear was added only a few years ago.

But we also like to work together with long-term suppliers as Closed and Drykorn that make a lasting collection and permanently develop. There, you have everything together: the collection, the collaboration, the exchange with the distribution partners. Fantastic!

But what makes us stand out from other shops is for sure our individuality. On the one hand, we don’t follow every trend. If, for instance, wild floral patterns are hot at the moment, this doesn’t mean for a long time yet that we are selling this in our store, too. The trend has always to be ‘Lochner’-like. In addition, we don’t buy complete collections. We pick things we need from everywhere to compile our ‘own’ collection. We cannot allow any mistakes because on the one hand our customer has a blind trust in us, but on the other hand is also highly informed. Also the atmosphere at our store is more like ‘at a friend’s place’…not typical ‘store’-like. This especially is also noticeable at our VIP events. The customers are extremely relaxed, in a good mood and are truly shopping quite a bit along the way.

We love our customers for being spontaneous. It’s not seldom that someone only drops by for a quick espresso and later leaves the shop with a new outfit. We also get great feedback from our customers very often. They are proud of the styling they get from us, and the compliments they are thus getting. Is there any better kind of PR? And, of course we are extremely pleased when we hear how happy the people are that they also can shop at us, in the boonies, and they don’t have to drive to Salzburg or Munich all the time.

Of course the people want to get a certain wow factor when they are in our shop. The presentation of wares has to change all the time. Thus, it is not important that the store is brand new and completely styled. On the contrary, we include several old furniture pieces on purpose, in order to make it look different from everywhere. The styling is very important though. Either the chinos on the timber trestle, or the shoes on a euro-pallet…the main thing is that it is getting attention! Since maybe two years, the items are hanging very selective in our store, almost like at a showroom. Especially the girls like this and deal with the goods much more naturally – almost like they are standing in front of their closet.

Since quite a while we notice very clearly that people are willing to pay considerably more money than in the past if the product is right. They don’t pay €280 for just any kind of jeans because they are just hip at the moment. But for a nice cashmere sweater, for instance they are willing to pay a lot of money. I am not necessarily of the opinion that customers are looking for classic pieces that they can wear for the next three to four years. They are looking for quality and modernity and want to treat themselves with something or want to define themselves. They also want to show that they have style.

Also the trend towards the much-discussed ‘separateness’ I cannot confirm that way. Especially working women like to buy complete outfits when you offer them. Just there is the problem with most of the sales representatives. Again and again, I observe this in other stores. Of course the customer enters the store because she is looking for the pair of trousers that was pictured in Instyle…but the look has to match though. Thus, the silk blouse, the cardigan and the shoes have to be added.

We are not planning to launch an online shop. I myself shop online not very often – most of the time due to a lack of time.

I think that especially in smaller cities multilabel stores do not increase, but the ones that are out there make a good business – if they are doing their homework.

Raspini and Luisa in Florence are very special stores for me, with a special flair. With 13 years I got my first pair of really good leather shoes at Raspini!”