The footwear designer on why he loves the constant change of the fashion industry and what he does to get inspired.
As head of design at German women’s footwear brand Tamaris, Achim Tischer knows a thing or two about shoes. He tells Drapers about the highs and lows of working in the fashion industry and what he’d be doing if he hadn’t accidentally found himself designing women’s shoes.
How would you describe Tamaris?
Affordable fashion with the perfect fit. No nonsense – the product is the hero.
How did you end up designing women’s shoes as a man?
To be honest: pure coincidence. I started in Tamaris as an apprentice in the trading department, but I then quickly discovered a passion for women’s shoes. Luckily, others spotted my talent and I did not end up as an accountant.
What do you love most about your job?
The constant change. I don’t mean just fashion, moving from season to season and then starting all over again. What thrills me most at the moment is how fast the consumer changes in terms of the trends they shop and – even more importantly – how and where they shop. There is an unbelievable dynamic and speed in this change. I love that because it’s challenging.
What do you dislike most about your job?
I don’t like big meetings as there are too many opinions and it’s difficult to please everybody. However, it is fantastic to work for such a big company and I appreciate all the advantages, so I can very well live with those meetings.
What’s the most expensive item in your wardrobe?
A bespoke suit from Savile Row.
What’s the most treasured item in your wardrobe?
A pair of boots from Carol Christian Poell. I bought them many years ago when I was at the beginning of my career. I went into the store 100 times to see if the pair was still there as I had to save up money to buy them. Considering what I earned, it was stupid, but for me it was worth every penny. If I consider how often I’ve worn them, they are probably the cheapest pair of shoes I have.
Where are your favourite places to shop?
That’s a big advantage of my job – I have to travel a lot, so the choice is huge. Joyce in Hong Kong is such a great place.
Who do you admire most in the fashion industry?
I deeply respect what Amancio Ortega Gaona achieved with Zara. He changed the business with his vertical concept dramatically.
Who do you think is the most stylish person in the industry?
Nick Wooster [street style icon, buyer and designer] is great. He always adds his own twist, which is never average and sometimes a bit over the top. All fashion should be.
How many pairs of shoes do you own?
100-plus, not counting the ones in the basement. An awful lot for a man, I guess.
Which do you prefer: casual trainers or smart shoes?
That’s like asking if I want caviar or Champagne. Both, of course!
What’s the biggest misconception about the fashion industry?
Working in the fashion industry means much more hard work and much less glamour than an outsider might expect. If you need proof, take a look at my diary.
What would we find you doing at the weekend?
Spending time with my kids. Doesn’t matter what or where; if my kids are happy, then Daddy is happy.
What was the last new brand you discovered?
It’s not new, but I recently discovered Maison Kitsuné. It is ahead of the industry, bridging music, fashion and design, and all the looks have a Parisian twist.
Which country is the most stylish, and why?
For me, France. Their chic is so relaxed.
How would you describe your personal style?
Always my own twist, never average and sometimes a bit over the top!
What has been your career highlight?
When I saw the first shoe I designed on the foot of a woman in public. It was in Berlin many years ago. I don’t think this highlight can be beaten.
If you weren’t working in fashion, would else would you be doing?
I’m fascinated by the art world, but probably it would be the same as fashion: much more work and much less glamour than I expect.
What do you do to get inspired?
Of course, I have to watch the competition and luxury brands, but I personally get most of my inspiration from the streets. Today, you don’t even have to go out – just browse some fashion blogs and you see so much more creativity than in many catwalk collections.
What’s the best business advice you were ever given?
Some advice from the founder of Tamaris: “Always do a little bit more than the competition.”