FCG INTERVIEW | Manuela Kampp-Wirtz

Orientation in the online fashion jungle

“I think German fashion is great”

With the titles Elle, Instyle and Harper’s Bazaar as well as Bunte und Freundin, BurdaStyle reaches more than seven million readers every month, plus an online reach of over 20 million visits – and that is largely thanks to her: Since 2012, Manuela Kampp-Wirtz has been CEO of Germany’s largest media company in the lifestyle, fashion, beauty and entertainment sector. Despite her demanding job, the CEO finds time for voluntary work. Since December 2018, she has also been a member of the executive committee of the Fashion Council Germany. An interview about sustainability, support programmes and the further development of e-commerce.

You have been a presidium member of the Fashion Council Germany since December 2018. What motivated you to participate?
The fashion industry is one of the most important sectors in Germany that needs to be promoted. I think it is important to provide targeted support for young designers from Germany and to improve the international visibility of German fashion and its designers. The Fashion Council Germany is committed to this and that’s why I didn’t hesitate for long when I was asked if I wanted to become a member of the Presidium.

Why is BurdaStyle – as a media company – committed to young talent and sustainability?
Both are important and current topics. We have been supporting young talents for several years with the Bunte New Faces Award Style. And we are very happy to be a partner of the German Sustain Concept, which promotes sustainable engagement with designers.

Green fashion has been around for a long time. Why is sustainability such a big issue in the industry right now?
The climate problem, CO2 emissions and the sensible use of resources concern us all. Numerous fashion labels today produce ecologically sustainable garments. This commitment supports the German Sustain Concept.

What does BurdaStyles’ commitment to the German Sustain Program look like in concrete terms?
As a partner of the German Sustain Programme, BurdaStyle supports four young designer labels – Phylyda, Lara Krude, Working Title and Oft – in production and distribution. In addition, BurdaStyle supports the designers and the Fashion Council Germany with its know-how in the commercial and creative field.

Together with the German Sustain winners Lydia Maurer (Phylyda) and Lara Krude, exclusive Capsule Collections have been created, which are available on instyle.de and elle.de. What is it all about?
We support the young fashion labels by selling their collections on the shopping platforms of elle.de and instyle.de and announcing them editorially. The editorial support and sales via our platforms increase the designers’ awareness and draw attention to the collections.

BurdaStyle is a media company. Why is it actually attractive for customers to shop via your online platforms?
Our brands’ fashion editors curate the hottest trend items from a wide range of articles and thus offer perfect orientation in the online fashion jungle.

How important are such sales offers now for BurdaStyle? Will the Shop-It area be expanded in the future?
The Instyle online shop, Instyle Shop-It, for example, already has more than 100 partner shops integrated, and the trend is rising. We have also extended the concept to Elle and Freundin, so you can also shop for selected trend parts on Elle Shop-It and Freundin Shop-It. E-commerce is an important part of our brand offering and will definitely be further expanded in the future.

Would that also be an answer to the shrinking print market?
We rely on the strength of our brands and build entire worlds of experience around them. This also includes e-commerce. But the basis is and will remain print. Recently, Harper’s Bazaar and Instyle have gained new subscribers. We launched Instyle Mini&Me in October and, due to the great reader interest, we are increasing the frequency of line extensions of Elle, Elle Traveller and Elle Accessoires. So you can’t say that the print market in general is shrinking.

Online trade is booming. In your opinion, does stationary trade still have a future in the long term?
Of course, online trade is booming, but when I’m in town on a Saturday and see the queues at the checkout, I’m convinced that stationary trade definitely has a future. But here, the same applies as for our brands: shops must be oriented to the needs of consumers and be run with passion.

 

On elle.de you sell young German labels as well as international established luxury brands.
Elle.de is an international brand and thus shows the whole spectrum of fashion, from German designers still unknown to the big players in the industry. The consumer appreciates the curated selection of trends from the entire fashion world.

The German customer is considered to be closed to unknown brands. Can BurdaStyle be used to take up the cudgels for German fashion?
The readers trust the intuition and recommendations of the fashion experts of our brands. Fashion sections in Elle, Instyle and Harper’s Bazaar thus help young fashion labels to become better known and, above all, more desirable. It can happen that a garment is sold out directly after publication in one of our magazines or online.

How do you currently feel about the German fashion landscape? Especially with regard to the Berlin Fashion Week, which has been declared dead more often recently.
The Berlin Fashion Week is an important platform for the German fashion industry. In Berlin, it’s not about competing with Milan or Paris, but about offering not only big names but also local talent the opportunity to show their creations and promote exchange within the industry. BurdaStyle is also regularly represented in Berlin with the InStyle Lounge and the We are Fashion Lunch and networks established brands with young designers, influencers and editors.

Not to mention support programmes: What do you think needs to be done to establish (young) German labels on the market in the long term?
On the one hand, more attention needs to be paid to the importance of German fashion for the economy in this country, so that suitable investors can be found for young labels. On the other hand, we have to draw attention to German design and to talent so that they can gain recognition and grow. After all, these are two of the key points of the Fashion Council, which is why I find the work of the FCG so essential for German fashion.

What is your personal view of German fashion?
I think German fashion is great. There are many designers whose collections inspire me. The last time I wore a dress by Irene Luft was at the Bambi.