28/01/2019 – Knopf & Knopf International — auf Deutsch lesen
“Many customers transfer our ideas and expertise to abroad”
In an exclusive interview with textile network, Artur Unger, President and CEO of Knopf & Knopf, shares his view of “buttonless fashion” and discusses changes in the industry.
A leading manufacturer of buttons and accessories, Knopf & Knopf International is synonymous the world over with unusual design ideas and expert workmanship. Four times a year, the company presents its own collection of buttons and designs as well as produces individual labels, hangtags and a range of accessories such as clasps, buckles and decorative elements. Besides its headquarters in Maselheim (since April 2018), Knopf & Knopf International also has locations in Paris, Hong Kong and other major cities.
textile network: Mr Unger, what are your expectations for 2019?
Artur Unger: My expectations for 2019 are the same as my expectations for 2018 as far as the trimmings industry is concerned. We’re witnessing sales growths in the automotive industry as well as in other areas, such as Lindt chocolate from Switzerland.
textile network: You’ve been in the business for many years. Looking back, what in your view has changed – what has got better and what is worse?
Artur Unger: Yes, I’ve been working in the trimmings and accessories industry for 32 years. Back in the day, our customers would buy their products predominantly from German suppliers. As a result of globalisation, the market has been transformed on an international scale. A further point is that many customers are transferring our ideas and expertise abroad – especially to China and Bangladesh. This inevitably means that trimmings manufacturers will be less able and willing to invest in design.
textile network: Are there any milestones that have shaped or influenced the (German) trimmings industry?
Artur Unger: The introduction of minimum colour and minimum volume surcharges. They are par for the course these days because order sizes have decreased and orders are placed more frequently.
textile network: If you compare collaboration with your customers then and now – how has it changed in recent years?
Artur Unger: Customers today expect a comprehensive range of services and quick reaction times to requests, developments etc. A prompt response to customer needs is essential these days.
textile network: The past few seasons have been dominated by a relatively clean look. Has the fashion button had its day? Or is the decorative button poised for a comeback?
Artur Unger: Buttonless fashion – especially in womenswear – has been having an enduring impact in recent seasons. It’s quite unusual for a trend to last for so long. This suggests that change is in the air and that interest in new trimmings and accessories will be restored.
textile network: You exhibit at all the major international trade fairs. Are the prescribed trends still important for today’s customers?
Artur Unger: When creating our collections, we work together with trend agencies and experience has taught us that our customers also like to follow these trends. As a result, our customers can really identify with our collections.
textile network: How important is personal interaction with your customers, e.g. at trade fairs?
Artur Unger: Engaging with our customers at trade fairs is really important. By talking to our international customers, we learn about different trends and developments around the world, both in a business and a fashion sense.
textile network: Sustainability is ubiquitous – to what extent does it play a role in your company and your products?
Artur Unger: We also have sustainable items in our product portfolio.
textile network: Do customers specifically ask for sustainably produced buttons?
Artur Unger: Yes, the demand is definitely there. Having said that, our customers are still somewhat reticent. As soon as they see how much the sustainable products cost, they quickly opt for the cheaper materials.
textile network: A few months ago, you became sole owner of Knopf & Knopf International and have also moved to new premises. What implications does this have for your customers?
Artur Unger: Yes, that’s right. In April 2018, we moved into our new 3,000m² building and our 1,400m² hall and offices which are spread over two floors. My partner and best friend Andreas Dünkel needed space and capacity for his Motorworld operations and so we decided to buy our own premises. This means that we can respond more quickly to our customers’ needs and that our internal processes run more smoothly.
Mr Unger, many thanks for talking to us.
The questions were asked by Iris Schlomski on behalf of textile network.