Interview with Kathleen König “Haltbar” – A label with a clear line

HALTBAR Store
Photo © Judith Buss

The label Haltbar originally started with workwear. Inspired by functional carpenter’s trousers, sailor’s pullovers and military parkas, former costume designer Kathleen König creates casual, avant-garde fashion. But HALTBAR is more than just a label, it is also a concept store. Goethe.de paid a visit to the designer in her shop in Munich’s stylish Glockenbachviertel.


Mrs König, how did you become a creator of fashion?

I took a few detours. Originally I wanted to be a makeup artist. First I trained as a hairdresser, then did a design foundation course in Basle and went on to study fashion, after which I worked for several years as a theatre costume designer and stylist in film and advertising. Gradually I felt the need to be productive without being bound to a contract. So I founded the product label Haltbar together with two friends and my husband, Peter König. Initially it was to be a platform for designers who wanted to creatively address the topic of living space and accessories. The criteria set were quite clear: to modify well-designed items that exhibit the quality of craftsmanship and bring these in line with today’s contemporary style. This led to a cooperation with Berlin designer Kostas Murkudis and to the launch of our joint fashion label Haltbar Murkudis. Since 2007 I have been running the label under the name Haltbar with my husband alone, and have been in fashion ever since.

What is the main idea behind "Haltbar"?

Similar to my previous product design, my fashion idea is to take workwear or traditional clothing of other cultures away from their familiar environment and to modify and redefine these in a new context.

Does the name serve as a statement?

Yes it does, because “haltbar” actually means durable, and this is associated with quality. But also because I use timeless shapes and patterns, also materials and colours that work well in any season. I have some followers who actually wear Haltbar from head to toe – but then the trousers may be from an earlier collection, and the blazer is brand new. But they go together perfectly.
 

  • HALTBAR, Autumn/Winter 2014/2015 Photo © Steffi Eckelmann
    HALTBAR, Autumn/Winter 2014/2015
  • HALTBAR, Autumn/Winter 2014/2015 Photo © Tobias Volkmann
    HALTBAR, Autumn/Winter 2014/2015
  • HALTBAR, Autumn/Winter 2014/2015 Photo © Tobias Volkmann
    HALTBAR, Autumn/Winter 2014/2015
  • HALTBAR, Summer 2015 Photo: Laurens Grigoleit
    HALTBAR, Summer 2015
  • HALTBAR, Autumn/Winter 2014/2015 Photo © Steffi Eckelmann
    HALTBAR, Autumn/Winter 2014/2015
  • HALTBAR, Autumn/Winter 2014/2015 Photo © Steffi Eckelmann
    HALTBAR, Autumn/Winter 2014/2015
  • HALTBAR, Autumn/Winter 2014/2015 Photo © Steffi Eckelmann
    HALTBAR, Autumn/Winter 2014/2015
  • HALTBAR, Autumn/Winter 2014/2015 Photo © Tobias Volkmann
    HALTBAR, Autumn/Winter 2014/2015

So one collection barely differs from the next?

Oh it certainly does! And the latest trends also find their way into my collections. Some garments are stamped with a certain hipness because they are so sober, practically clean. Many of the pieces I use as a basis have been modified a thousand times, yet they always create a new look.

Your production is almost entirely based in Germany. Why is that?

I need to know where things are happening and what is going on there. Also that the people involved in the work are paid a proper wage, this is why my production is in Germany. It is an issue no one was interested in ten years ago, but now the attitude has changed.

Who wears "Haltbar"?

Initially it was first and foremost designers, people from the fashion world, architects. This was probably because my fashion also has something in common with architectural design. But now my collections reach a wide audience, ranging from physicians and psychologists to actors and well-known football players. Basically speaking, these are people who know what suits them, they know who they are and what they feel comfortable in.

How important is the idea of androgyny in your fashion style?

Oh I just love playing with this concept. Nearly all of the trousers I make are unisex, and it is fantastic how well this works. The women who wear my label, for example, never appear madam-like, they are always just that little bit cooler. And the men are normal, quite natural, perhaps a little more feminine. My collection now also includes blouses and dresses. These boast a playful, casual styling, but are always absolutely straight. I am no designer of evening gowns. The woman wearing my label is dressed and not undressed.

Over recent years you have frequently lectured as guest professor at the University of Applied Sciences in Basle and at the Universität der Künste Berlin. What do you want your students to remember most?

The most important thing was to encourage them to develop their own visions. Of course, I also wanted them to focus on what lay ahead, on what they wanted to do after their studies. Whether they intended to work as a freelance designer or for someone else.

Although you first took a few detours yourself...

Yes I did. But there were some occasions when I would have appreciated someone telling me what to expect out there. You really have to be damn good to make it in the fashion scene. This is something every young designer must be aware of.

Is there anything you haven’t designed yet and would still like to create?

Just now I said that I was no designer of evening gowns, but actually, something I would really love to design is the absolute evening dress. A gorgeous, couture garment that is simultaneously intrinsic and spontaneous – simply a really cool evening dress.