The Fashion Folk S03 ep1 : Klaus Muelbaer, Muelbaer Fahion, [Vienna]
Interview with Klaus Muelbaer
In 1903 Julianna Mühlbauer laid the foundation stone of the now over 100 year old family business. She opened a small millinery with shop attached in the Viennese suburb of Floridsdorf with her husband Robert.
My name is Klaus Muelbauer, we own a hat shop in the very middle of Vienna, a hat shop which
has been run by my family for more than 100 years and I am now representative of the fourth
When we came into the company some years ago we felt it has become stuff of a different
generation and the idea we had, the spirit we were following was to make it be understood by
young people, to make it cool and trendy and sexy again.
When I came into the company the company actually was more about clothing and clothes than
hats. The hat was a very small part of it and actually I put out all the clothes and concentrated on
the very core thing of this company which was the hats.
My sister is a graphic designer originally and I was actually learning the business of hat maker,
milliner in my parents’ company. I worked as a hat and milliner for some years after this formation
and then turned also to university and studies in business administration.
Hats in my grandfather’s period have been different to the period of my father and as they are now
but still the advantage like maybe of this older company is that we can relate to earlier styles so
this is really what is funny also in part that we have a huge archive of pictures of ready hats also of
shapes of wooden blocks so which we every time when we make a new generation which we can
go through and see whether we can use it or not.
The truth as well is there is practically no style from a previous generation which you can use
100% as it was again. You have to modify, you have to do something with it because things have
changed. For example, most important to say is the comfort, the level of comfort which is required
by a hat today is completely different to 20, 30, 40 years ago.
The top hat was a sign of aristocracy for example whereas the bowler hat was the hat for the
working people, for the working class, so this is what’s, this was why bowler family has become so
important. Today I think it’s different. There is no meaning of different of classes with hats. I think
the hats today have to do with individuality, they underline their understanding of fashion or style.
We have several other designers we work with, the German label Wunderkind, the new label by
Wolfgang York, we work with the French label Andre Lereache, also the British label Temperly,
not for every season for them but in case they need hat wear or hats for their collections.
We see hats and hat wear not like as a single piece like lost in space, for us it is very important to
be connected with fashion of these days and it is very important to combine it, therefore when we
do new collections our research always is much more in the general field of fashion than in the
field of hats for example and this is also why a corporation with other designers or a corporation
with students at the Vienna University of Applied Arts is so important, that is crucial for us and for
our work. The general line is done by my sister and me and then we take some assistance by other
My personal perception is that hats have become smaller in the last two or three decades, so I see
very huge people in front of me, like mainly men actually with large shoulders, tall and a very
small hat on top of it which is for me some ways a little bit strange but I think like this is a kind of
new figure and new silhouette coming out physically.
All the hates are handmade so it’s a manufacture and it’s really made in a way it has been done
like 100 years ago or even longer than that and this is also the important thing about it, to make
hats look different from an industrial product for example.
Japanese people they are smaller than Europeans but they have quite huge heads, we don’t do
special styles for them but if have deliveries to Japan we have to think of bigger sizes.
Most of the people wear hats when it’s cold in winter. Apart from this the most accessible to hats
are young people is really a young generation between 15 and 30. The generation for example of
my mother who is like around 60-65 these days, they have been those who avoided hats because
they are this kind of generation 68 and they wanted to see hair. All people who are younger they
are more accessible, they don’t have traditions in wearing hats and this is also interesting to work
with them because they wear them in different ways, they are not bound to traditions to
Let’s say there are more than two or three customers, it’s always funny, you always laugh, people
try hats and then they advise each other, you don’t need the salespeople any more you don’t need
to be present I mean you can just lean back and be entertained. There is always a smile in the face
of people trying hats.
You can, you can change your personality or your character immediately with putting something,
if you put just a hat band or some small circuit or something or if you put a cap or a hat with a big
brim your character changes immediately.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Klaus Muelbaer, Muelbaer Fashion, Vienna