Erwin O. Licher is a pioneer in the German fashion industry. Born in Gießen, the trained model locksmith and denim lover started his own jeans business in 1972. He bought a used van, with which he went on his sales route every week over Nuremberg, Bamberg, Coburg and Munich and sold jeans from Paris. In the same year, he opened the first "Western-Store-Jeanscenters" in Dillenburg. In 1973, the opening of the "Jeans-Ecke" in Gießen followed. In 1992, he founded Freeman T. Porter, after the separation from the business partner in 2004, he launched his brand "Herrlicher", with which he is still interfering in the denim business with 70. Here, Licher speaks about his passion for denim and why he prefers to remain in the denim business instead of playing Golf…
Erwin, you’re an institution in the branch. How did it all start with you and fashion back then? Why did you stay with it?
Fashion has always been my thing, long before I got to know the branch. Let’s say it in today’s language: I was a fashionable, fashion affine final consumer. A former friend took me with him on tour in the early 70s. He sold French jeans out of his truck right to the retailers. Selling fashion to retailers, that’s what I also did then. And I still do. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
After so many years in the industry, what does fashion mean to you?
Fashion does mean the same thing to me today as it did before. Fashion is a reflection of your personality. Fashion, seeing real fashion, experiencing fashionable subcultures. Watching people with their own style, people with totally crazy styles still make me happy.
What is fascinating about the material denim to you?
Denim adapts to the wearer. Denim becomes a personal touch. It grows and conforms. It breaks and gets patched. One destroys, embroiders and paints it. It gets changed, a long jeans becomes a short one. Flared jeans become tight ones. Simply amazing.
What are the biggest challenges the fashion industry is facing right now?
Vintage only applies to denim jeans, not for business concept. Having been good in the past does not count anymore today. Decades without changes are a no-go. More and more, bigger, faster, everything without soul does not work as well. Taking care, watching, thinking, changing.
Which are the biggest controversies this season?
Are there any?
You survived quite some turbulences with your brand Herrlicher in the past ten year. What was up and how is the brand today?
We had a fantastic start in 2004. We grew too fast in the first three years. After that, we had difficulties for 5 years. But since 2013 everything is fine. Everything through continuous change.
What would you do differently today?
I’d study business administration first.
Could you imagine another project in the future next to Herrlicher? What would that be?
Yes, for example a bags line, a shoe line, a fragrance line, a men’s line, a real vintage line, andeco line, learning piano and sailing.
Even in your late sixties, you’re still active in the branch. Why is the well-earned retirement no issue for you?
Playing golf and breeding roses? Both are no alternatives to creating denim for me.