Uwe Herrmann creates underground Italian city – in the middle of Dresden
Bridal Times had the pleasure of catching up with Germany’s TV personality of “Zwischen Tüll und Tränen” (Germany’s version of “Say Yes to the Dress”) to find out more about his expansive new bridal salon at Dresden Central Station, how bridal fashion and technology will be combined in the future, and the different tastes of brides in various regions of Germany.
Mr. Herrmann, you just recently opened a mega store for bridal wear at Wiener Platz in Dresden in December 2019. How did the opening go, were you satisfied?
We opened the white vault, “Mega Store”, it always sounds so big. The location is almost the same size as the old one but we just planted it down in the eyesore in Dresden where drugs and prostitution took place, bringing bridal wear back to life. We have had a very good response since then. When you go down the escalator, I have created an underground Italian city with various small shops, 16 to 18 of them. It was basically an empty concrete shell without heating, without light, and nothing in it. We have built everything from scratch. That was the advantage. I had three or four locations to choose from but I chose this one because I could build myself. It has been sensationally accepted and embraced. However, I am not a fan of opening parties because the wrong people always show up. I don’t care about vanity, that’s not my belief as a Christian. I support vanity in my job, of course, but only to a certain extent. My job is to make people happy. My employees should make people happy.
Is your bridal salon targeted toward a specific type of bride?
No, I’ve never a target group. I produce over 60% of the gowns in my shop myself. That means I buy beautiful gowns of which customers only buy one dress a year. I buy that special dress. I work as a designer myself. I always call myself a folk designer. My clothes are not for hungry models but for normal people you meet in life. I think these are people with much nicer characters and stories than those who sell themselves as a product or pretend to be someone they actually are not. And that’s my fashion too.
In your book „Kleider machen Bräute“ (The Dress Makes the Bride), you describe many funny anecdotes about working in your bridal shop. Does humor sometimes help you through a stressful day at work?
Yes, for sure. Anyone who deals with people could write a book. I’m already writing the next book. You see new stories every day. I don’t make fun of people when I write about them, I just want to give people the opportunity to think about themselves for a minute. For example, many are unaware of why they are getting married. Maybe out of a sense of duty or because they are 7 months pregnant or because as a married couple you are more likely to get a loan from the bank. Or the difference between men and women: men love with the mind, women with the heart. That is why same-sex couples are often in a better situation. I just humorously put all of these human aspects together on paper.
It’s exhibition season time again. Which shows do you prefer to visit and how do you go about finding the perfect wedding gown at the trade fairs?
In wholesale, competition has become very strong through Eastern European, Vietnamese and Chinese. The fat years of wholesalers are over. Because the world is changing through a certain degree of transparency and online trading. Today you think you are dealing with three different manufacturers from England, Spain and France, but in fact the top comes from one and the same factory. And the clothes that are shown on the shows were already produced three months ago, so they are very old when they end up in the shop. The diversity is becoming less and less, because people have less and less culture to dress as a whole. We are becoming more uniform, more standardized. My advantage is that I produce myself, I can react much faster to changes in the market.
The selection of bridal wear on the market is huge. How do you decide what’s in your store? Do you follow a certain strategy or do you choose each dress according to your feelings?
I take my employees with me, they should look through the eyes of the customers. The special pieces I choose myself. But the special gowns are mostly those that are not bought. I have certain rules of thumb, different “types” of customers, each has their own personal approach, an ideal idea of what they want to represent on their wedding day, how they want to feel at their wedding. And with this knowledge, you also have to do the shopping and choose the gowns.
How do you manage to delight your customers season after season? Where do you get a feeling for what’s going to sell?
You think that you have the special dress and then it is the dress that nobody looks at, because everyone is also blind, everyone sees the world from their perspective. We sell a few thousand dresses a year, so we can’t keep an eye on everyone’s perspective. So the customer always chooses the special dress, never me.
What is your long-term plan for the future, not only for your business but also your Uwe Herrmann brand?
Germany snoozes through a lot of things. The young people in Asia, for example, are much further ahead. The future will be, that the dress the customer is wearing, no other person is wearing the same dress. That means there will be programs where a pattern dress is designed with the help of 3D suits and 3D glasses. The ladies will put on these outfits at home in their apartment and then the dress is built on computers together how they want it. The “Tupperwear Pary” will come to life again – with clothes. The girls meet at home with chips and sparkling wine and no longer go to the shop, but build, design their own wedding dress and everyone can have a say. The program comes from Malaysia, for example, the pattern is printed in China and then assembled in India and delivered to the customer’s home. The future clothes will be welded and glued and that will be better, hold better than a sewn dress. So the masses will buy their dress. It will be cheap and every customer can say that I designed my dress myself. Of course, there will still be customers who will have their dress sewn, which will be the luxury variant or the one for nostalgics.
Your son also works in your company. How do you prepare him for the business takeover? How do you as an entrepreneur deal with the changing times?
Yes, my son is already working in the company. As described above, our future will look similar. The advice in the shop will be different. That will change. The women put on a sample dress, then use their app to design the dress, maybe a little more fine tuning in our shop and then it will be sent to their home.
As different as the regions of Germany are, so are the brides there and their tastes, including the trends. Do you have a favorite region and if so, why?
I don’t have a favorite region. I have a feel for the north-south, but hardly the east-west. I think that Upper Bavaria and the North Germans are very similar to the Saxons. Each region has its own special aspect and that’s exactly what I enjoy, driving to different regions to enjoy something special for the moment. If it was the same everywhere, it would be boring. Therefore, you are only allowed to laugh at another bride if you know the real background of her wedding dress selection. Perhaps a certain dress is not particularly beautiful, but it has been worn by four generations in the family. So it’s a special value and meaning for the bride. You should always keep that in mind before you judge. And you shouldn’t get married for the others, but always for yourself.
What are your plans for 2020?
I would like to continue working in the TV area, start a new series, maybe an in-house production. There will also be a new book in 2020/2021, , with the zeitgeist of the current sustainability. Finally, I would like to say: The most important thing is that we should never forget, all families in the world have the same wishes and desires, and it has nothing to do with the politicians in this world.
We would like to thank Mr. Herrmann for this interview.
Image source: Germanprofoto Dresden, Stefanie Schumacher
For more information in German, visit Hochzeitsmode Dresden