Kaspar Frauenschuh, who trained as tanner and leather tailor, had just turned 21 when he took over the family business in 1974. His parent’s tannery and leather goods manufacturing business had gained quite a reputation: back in the 1960’s, they had invented the famous «Kitzbühel style». Guests from around the world went to Frauenschuh for their bespoke, tailor-made leather goods – primarily deerskin.
Kaspar did not shy away from the responsibility: he wanted to move on. From the world’s fashion metropolises, he brought new designs and new global labels to Tyrol. His family was very supportive. Soon, the Frauenschuh label had become synonymous with the new Alpine style.
First came the
Kaspar wanted to go even further. Beyond being chic, fashion should also be functional without a fault. Wearing one of his designs, one should feel at ease and be able to move freely. In 1997, he founded his label «Frauenschuh – Luxury Sportswear from Austria».
He started his collection with a fleece jacket. Close-fitting, yet comfortable. «A scuba diving jacket,» mocked the conservatives. Kaspar didn’t let himself be put off. «If the general public doesn’t like it, it usually turns into a trend,» he comments with a grin. The fleece jacket became his first ‹masterpiece› – a term he applies to those outstanding items carrying his label that will endure through several collections.
«We stick to the things that we did really well,» he explains the evolution of his collections. «We don’t do fashion; we’re modern, yet provide lasting value and style.» A team of six develops the collection under his guidance, each piece bearing his signature. The Frauenschuh style is unmistakable.
To create the lightness and comfort that make out his collections, he combines traditional materials such as loden, boiled wool or deerskin with technical materials such as stretch fabrics from Swiss maker Schöller and ultrathin Japanese nylon. Every item is handsewn in small workshops in Austria, Germany and Italy. Frauenschuh is «handmade in Europe».
«All our leathers stem from animal-friendly husbandry, our contractual partners treat their employees well and pay salaries that they can live on,» Kaspar Frauenschuh emphasises. Social responsibility is part of his philosophy. «Everyone has lunch together at one big table. That’s where we discuss ideas, problems, and, above all, solutions.»
«A ladies shoe
would be great.»
He would never move away from Kitzbühel. «I have been all over the place,» reflects the fashion tycoon, visionary and Kitzbühel native. «Here, I live in a place that’s central yet in the midst of the mountains.» It takes 90 minutes to go to Munich or Salzburg, Vienna and Italy are just three hours away – and the quality of life is right at your doorstep. «Here, I can meet fascinating people, take some time out to focus while doing archery, or go ski touring to escape the hurly-burly of the high season.»
He ponders a while, then grins when asked what he would still like to do one day: «A Frauenschuh (German for ladies shoe) would be great.» As always, he is thinking big: «Mind you, not just any shoe. The best alpine après-ski shoe.» He still lacks the know-how, he concedes. «But I think I already know what it would have to be.» So, watch this space.