85 years of Högl - 85 years of craftsmanship and creativity

Designed in Austria: for 85 years, our shoes have stood for passion for detail, high-quality materials, maximum wearability and a modern and feminine sense of style. For our 85th anniversary, we’re taking a look behind the scenes and talking design with Jörg Reichelt, our head of design, and his team. Jörg, Daniela and Juliane tell us about what inspires them and about the stories behind our shoes.

F. l. Shoe designer Juliane, Head of Design Jörg and model designer Daniela tell in the design talk how a shoe is made.

„Högl shoes are much more than just shoes. Our collections tell stories, and every day they make the women who wear them that little bit happier.“

What does your work entail? Give us an idea of what you do all day.

Jörg: Together with my fantastic team, I am responsible for design, development and putting together the Högl collection.
The first stage is research into trends, and then we make a storyboard, which gives a flow to the whole collection. Colour charts and materials are key. The actual designing begins with hand-drawn sketches. Lasts are made and heels are designed on the basis of these drawings: the last and the heel define the individual character of each shoe. The right combination of materials is the deciding factor for achieving perfect results.

Daniela: I make models for the Högl design team. My areas of responsibility vary a great deal and can be very diverse.
I mainly work on the shoe design; I create a three-dimensional model and make basic patterns (the design flattened down into two dimensions). I also take part in, and prepare for, our collection meetings, I work on materials and I’m in charge of prototypes and samples.

Juliane: As a shoe designer, I’m responsible for graphics and design. In our design department, there’s always something going on, and there’s always a buzz. In the development process for every collection, we are constantly challenged to come up with something new. I’m responsible for developing customised components and accessories, such as decorative elements, sole profiles and prints. I also develop and update the colour scheme for each season.

„For our A/W 2020 collection, I was inspirted by cool women oft he 70s, sho made a difference in terms of womes‘ rights and changed the image of women.“

Many women, and I’m sure some men too, dream of designing a shoe themselves at some point in their lives. For you, this dream job has become a reality. Has this always been what you wanted to do? 

Jörg: My grandfather had a shoe factory, and my father had shoe shops - and as I always loved drawing, it was clear from an early age what my job would be. Yes, I really am doing my dream job!

Juliane: I originally started studying product design, but I specialised in shoes and my degree focussed on creating a shoe design. I left my home city of Berlin to join Högl and I’ve been working in the Högl design team for 6 years now. For me, a shoe is an unbelievably fascinating product, as it merges functionality with fashion and these two aspects have a huge influence on each other. To be able to visualise ideas, take them through the development process, bring them ‘to life’ and then eventually to see them in shoe stores or on people’s feet is an amazing feeling! That’s what excites me about it.

How do designs come about? Where do you get your inspiration? 

Jörg: The idea is the starting point. We think of different themes, and these lead to corresponding moods, materials and colour charts, and eventually to the styles for each collection. I get inspiration from all sorts of things. Nature, music and film all play an important part. The current Autumn/Winter 20/21 collection was inspired by 1970s jet set style. 

Daniela: Firstly, I do research via the platforms of various fashion forums, and we also go to the big fashion cities like Paris and Milan and visit fashion shows, as well as analysing what we see on the streets.

Juliane: I think I store up lots of things visually in my head, either from trend pools online, or from what I notice on foreign visitors’’ feet at the airport, for example. I combine these images from my subconscious mind with my own tastes, always keeping our Högl customers in mind. This combination always creates something new and ensures ideas are unique. Overall, many decisions are made as a team, particularly at the collection meetings we’ve already mentioned, together with our friendly Managing Director Gerhard Bachmaier and our longstanding freelance shoe designer Simone Gronchi from Italy. We make such a great team - we complement each other beautifully and inspire each other.

„I get inspiration from all sorts of things. Nature, music and film all play an important part. The current Autumn/Winter 20/21 collection was inspired by 1970s jet set style.“

Jörg, you mentioned that the current collection was inspired by the 70s. What makes the 70s so inspirational?

Jörg: The 1970s was a wild decade. Sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll characterise this era. As well as the Flower Power movement, there was the glamour of the jet set generation: fast cars, glittering celebrity parties on the Côte d’Azur. It was a rebellious time - the young revolted against bourgeois society, and suddenly it was all long hair and wide flares, and Brigitte Bardot posing naked for the cameras.
And once again, young people are rebelling right now - although for quite different reasons. Greta Thunberg has started something immense - another reason why we’ve put a new spin on the 1970s jet set style.

What do you think distinguishes the Högl brand from other shoes?

Jörg: Our shoes are quite simply something special. Although the brand has always moved with the times, it’s kept its own individual signature style. A passion for detail, sheer perfection, the use of quality materials and traditional expertise are always very much at the fore in our designs and in their manufacture. I’d say that, all in all, Högl shoes are much more than just shoes. Our collections tell stories, and every day they make the women who wear them that little bit happier.

Daniela: The only thing I can add is that Högl shoes stand out because of their wearability, quality and design - these characteristics are very important to us and are given careful consideration in their construction. Our challenge is making sure they appeal from a fashion perspective. Our new print technologies are certainly a feature that can distinguish us from other brands. It’s because of them that we have such beautiful customised Högl prints in our collection.  

Daniela and Juliane, you’re surrounded by shoes every day while you’re at work, so we’re sure that one or other of the designs will sometimes find its way into your own wardrobes. Which designs from the current Autumn/Winter collection are your own personal must-haves?

Daniela: CARNABY ankle boots and AMANDA heels! Both designs have that classic 70s shape, but with a new interpretation. Our customers are also going to love our retro sneakers. They hark back to the past, to the original sports trainers, but they have that signature Högl high-quality leather and comfortable interior. 

Juliane: I’m going to get a pair of our new CLIMBER ridged sneaker boots for when I’m not at work. Either the multi-coloured patch version with our new Carnaby print, or in the all-over nut shade.

And I’ll be wearing our super-soft and extremely comfortable PILLOW suede loafers to the office.