Luxury knitwear designer, Markus Lupfer, was born in a small town in Southern Germany called Kisslegg and moved to London when he came to the UK to study at the University of Westminster in London. Lupfer has evolved to become a leading UK designer with his iconic 'Lips' jumper gaining him an army of A-list fans, but the down to earth designer says he still gets "super excited" when he sees Beyonce or Miley Cyrus wearing Markus Lupfer pieces. We went to catch up with him at Shoreditch House in East London to get all the latest news and what's next for the brand.
Meeting at the sprawling creative hub that is Shoreditch House, Markus Lupfer is, (of course) wearing Markus Lupfer knitwear; a snake-print jumper teamed with leggings and shorts. "Markus Lupfer HQ is just around the corner" he explains. "In the heart of Shoreditch just near Hoxton Square. I have a wonderful team, about 12 of us and we're like a family."
Lupfer's specialism of knitwear was where it all began, and he admits that the idea to add his signature sequins was more on a whim than a plan. "I was talking to the supplier and I just said 'try it in sequins' and it came back better than I expected. I LOVE knitwear, and the sparkles give it a more evening feel." The creation of his 'Lips' jumper was a more organic as Lupfer explained. "When I write to friends I often sign with a little lip (kiss) and I thought it would be great to put a lip on a jumper. When the very first test came back I really really liked it.' And the rest is history, the 'Lips' jumper is re-imagined each season in a new print, design or a new colour, the SS14 Lara Lips version is a baby pink knit with a candy striped lips design on it.
"SS14 is a playful nostalgia for any alumni of the early 90s MTV generation," Lupfer continues. "I wanted to create every girls' indispensable pieces with patchwork flower prints, a sparkle kitten print and mix it up with "mean girls" slogans such a "You Wish", "Whatever" and "Loser". The epitome of this mood is surely the girl of the moment, Miley Cyrus. Last month the Disney teen turned controversial pop princess picked out the kitten print for her stage outfit and turned it into an ironic two piece bikini. Lupfer said, "I woke up the night after she wore it and everything had gone crazy, especially the social media" (Lupfer runs his own Instagram account and the team all run Twitter).
Lupfer is inspired by style icons of the past, "Cathereine Deneuve has always been a favourite. She is always incredibly elegant." He also looks to his surroundings for where girls are best dressed, "I know London best, so I would say here! London girls aren't intimidated by fashion and throw anything together and make it work. It's all about the attitude."
With that in mind Lupfer has created pieces that are perfect for a modern woman's wardrobe. "They are contemporary garments, great for party wear and everyday. It's all really accessible and easy to wear and always with a special element that makes it unique for our customers." For AW14, he has embraced these ideals even further. "Autumn/Winter is all about Britain and a kind of tongue-in-cheek tour of the country outside. From Manchester's cobbled streets for a full English breakfast in a local cafe, to Blackpool's fairgrounds to go on the dodgems, and - if you're lucky - win a goldfish." The presentation at London Fashion Week was held in a derelict building and decked out in the style of a traditional cafe, creating a backdrop for the fun, fashion collections. The pre-collections, landing in May this year are highly anticipated with hybrid sequined animals - cute and kitsch with a curious Alice in Wonderland, mysterious, magical feeling to them - a Bunny Bug, a bunny head mixed with a ladybird's body. As he explains, humour "I get inspired from all sorts of places, it might be a great book or an amazing film, from the street, or art...I love a slogan that makes me smile.'
All of which go towards explaining Lupfer's business mantra, which is a delightful mix of intrigue and honesty. "We design high quality fashion and lifestyle products that tell stories to engage your curiosity, raise a smile and evoke a special positive feeling. Markus Lupfer is all about positivity, being happy to serve, innovation and high quality." He got his big break after showing his collections and securing a stockist; "The amazing Mark Holgate from UK Vogue (now at US Vogue) had featured my final collection at Vogue which was a great help to get our first shop order."
Today, Markus Lupfer splits his day in half. "I usually start the first part of the day with the business part. The second half of the day is usually reserved for the creative part." We can't help but wonder what Lupfer might be doing if he wasn't a designer. "I would either work in architecture or in astronomy...I love anything to do with the stars and the universe!"
What's next for the UK brand which now spans womens and menswear? "We are just starting with Markus Lupfer Eyewear which is super exciting." And for Markus Lupfer the man? "I love Bali to unwind, Lorde on my iPod and Japanese food" he says when we ask him what he likes right now. And plans for the future? "Oh there are so many places in the world that I love and so many more to explore. I love Oman, Bali, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Thailand..."
Shop Markus Lupfer. Markus Lupfer SS14 is online and in store now. Pre-collections with Hybrid Animals will land in May/June 2014. AW14 will be available from July/August 2014.