Design as a success factor

Good design - good business

Nothing moves faster than fashion: Trends change from season to season, styles evolve, ever newer influences inspire and fascinate, and even the familiar makes surprising comebacks with new colours, shapes and details.

As Europe’s largest shoe retailer, also active in the US, it’s not only Deichmann’s collections that make it up to date: Deichmann is active in shaping trends - as a trailblazer in fashion and lifestyle, and as a pacesetter in fashion development.

Searching for inspiration the world over

For this, Deichmann also employs its own designers and fashion scouts. Their tools are creativity, inspiration and the right flair for what matters to fashion enthusiasts. The shoe designers get their inspiration in many ways. Sometimes it’s trips to the world’s fashion centres, such as Paris, New York and Tokyo, that put them on the trail of the latest fashion trends. But sometimes they find small details on a building, in nature or in a picture, sketch them out with a pencil and finally work them into a fashionable detail of a finished shoe.

For the ladies’ collection alone, Deichmann designers create about 600 shoes each season. One of them is Martin Lenz. In this interview, he explains what fascinates him about fashion design, how he got into his profession, and what inspires him most.


A conversation with designer Martin Lenz

Where do you get your ideas and inspiration? (Schuhfashion)
Martin Lenz: First of all at fashion trade shows, at lectures and on informational trips to famous fashion cities. Even during an ordinary stroll around town, you can discover things that give you new shoe ideas: an ornament on a building, the clasp on a purse, or a wallpaper pattern.

Which fashion trade fairs and shows do you find interesting?
There are countless interesting fashion and textile fairs. For this we work closely with fashion scouts. They filter the most important trends for us. For observing the shoe market, the GDS in Düsseldorf and Micam in Milan are among the most important shows.

How long does a sketch take you? (Schuhfashion)
Martin Lenz: The time depends on how complex the model is. A shoe consists of a lot of components, such as the uppers, the sole, the heel, the inner sock, and maybe even accessories. So for a really complex moulded sole it may take an hour; for a simple pump only five minutes. A lot also depends on how the day is going. Some days you’ll have ideas for 100 shoes...

How complex is a designer’s work?
A designer’s work includes not only creativity and trend watching, but also market analysis and collection design. The recognized trends then flow into the collection. These trends could be new last or heel shapes, new colours or special types of shoes, such as ankle pumps this year. As soon as the collection is agreed upon, we begin the actual design work and create the first prototypes.

How long is the road from idea to finished shoe?
It’s a long haul from proposal to finished shoe. There is regular back-and-forth with our suppliers. During this collaboration, details are discussed and changes to the shoe are made until the end result meets our high standards and we can give the customer a great product that looks good and fits.

Have you always had a weakness for shoes? (Schuhfashion)
Martin Lenz: I’ve been dealing with shoes practically since I was in the cradle. My father was also a shoe designer, my grandfather a shoemaker and so on unto the umpteenth generation.

Is it hard for a man to create shoes for women?
Not really. There are a lot more possibilities, and you can play with the widest array of colours, shapes, heel heights, etc.

How does someone become a shoe designer? (Schuhfashion)
Martin Lenz: Generally you become a shoe designer by apprenticing as a shoemaker, because you have to know something about shoes and their production. Then you do an apprenticeship as a shoe designer at the German technical school for shoes, or at a similar institution.

Can you remember what you felt the first time you saw an unknown woman on the street in “your” shoes?

It was a great feeling. Naturally, I was incredibly proud and felt validated in my work.