Drapers speaks to Austrian womenswear designer Lena Hoschek about building a brand from her love of feminine designs.
Austrian womenswear designer Lena Hoschek set up her eponymous brand in 2005, aged 24, based in the small Austrian town of Graz. Today, the brand has two flagship stores and an atelier in Austria and is stocked in independent stores in Germany, Italy, the US and Kuwait. Now a mainstay of Berlin Fashion Week, she focuses on high-quality fabrics and elegant, feminine design – at prices ranging from around £200 for shirts to £600 for dresses.
Lena Hoschek autumn 18 catwalk
How did you come to be working in fashion?
My grandmother in Carinthia, southern Austria, taught me all sorts of crafts as a child: knitting, crochet and embroidery, which was my favourite thing to do. I learnt the art of attention to detail at a very young age. If you look at my clothing now, you can see this even on the inside of the garments. I enjoyed collecting different fabrics and loved floral-patterned fabrics the most. I was inspired by Laura Ashley and grew up looking through its catalogues while listening to The Sex Pistols.
Why did you decide to launch your own brand?
Even as a child I knew that I wanted to be self-employed and build my own company. When I was 16 or 17, I wasn’t too sure if I wanted to be a florist or a fashion designer, but after attending fashion college it wasn’t even a question.
How do you describe the ethos of the brand?
The female silhouette is something that is very important to me and I always aim for that to be the centre of attention. That’s why I use a lot of full skirts, cinched waists, and my garments show off cleavage. Cleavage for me is something that is very normal to show off during daytime.
Lena Hoschek autumn 18 catwalk
Where do you find inspiration?
Every creative person is like a sponge, so everything around you impacts you and your work. I get inspired a lot by people and their lifestyles. Music is also a big inspiration. When I really want to sit down and get designing, I shut the door, turn off my phone and put on music.
What are some of the challenges of running your own label?
The main challenges come when you’re growing. I now have 40 staff, so to keep it all together is a challenge. I started out completely on my own and have grown slowly. From a one-woman-show where you do every job yourself to delegating to a team is difficult.
What have some of the highlights been since you started the brand?
My personal highlights are the developments within my company. Every new employee is a highlight. It’s very gratifying to know I can pay someone’s living costs from what I create. Brand-wise, it was when singer Katy Perry wore Lena Hoschek to her album launch in Berlin. When the first picture appeared it really gave us a boost as a brand.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve received?
The best business advice always comes from your customers as they will always build your business in the end.
Favourite clothing brand
I had a baby last year, so at the moment its children’s knitwear brand, Miou.
Favourite places to shop
Last fashion purchase
A pair of Dr Martens
My grandma’s house in Austria over Christmas
Last book you read
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Last film you watched
My Favourite Wife with Cary Grant
Sales rep for a children’s shoe company
A florist to the wealthy
During the summer I’m in the garden, during the winter I’m on the couch.