A century-old Vienna-based headwear company doesn’t particularly have a trendy ring to it, but reserve judgement until you’ve discovered Mühlbauer
. Knobby tweeds, samtvelours, and feather- and tassel-accented caps may be the stereotypical image of Austrian hats — and all of them appear in Mühlbauer collections — but it’s brightly colored felts and rock star fur caps that are putting a modern face on the brand’s image and winning it a new following. Showing at hip tradeshow Premiere Classe, and generally adopting an updated strategy to garner a younger audience, Mühlbauer is clearly responding to the increasingly competitive headwear market that includes many brands without such a rarefied history.
Leading the brand’s renewal effort is fourth generation brother-and-sister team Klaus and Marlies Mühlbauer, who together head up design and merchandising. Their A/W ’04 eye candy collection of hand-stitched brimless shapes, jazz-inspired felts, nappa leathers, and velvet streetwise caps sells at the label’s seven stand-alone stores in Vienna and at international retailers that include Isetan in Tokyo, Le Bon Marche in Paris, and Really Great Things in New York. For the oldest modern milliner, seek out Mühlbauer.
Photos: Mühlbauer A/W 04