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Leader of the pack

Hartwig Goertler, the Director of International Sales at world-renowned German luggage label reisenthel, tells us how the family business has become a global brand

Tell me a bit about what inspired Peter Reisenthel to start the brand.
The reisenthel story is one of a charismatic founder. The ethos 'if I can't buy it, I'll create it on my own" is one that Peter Reisenthel has always lived by, and it's how his business was started. He's a professional innovator with a real sense of trends, ideas, attractive design and for putting the fun in functionality. As an approachable self-made man, he's the face of the company.

What was his design background, and what was the first collection like?
In the very beginning, some 45 years ago, his first product was a leather key chain with metal letters that he was very successfully selling in his small shop close to the Munich Viktualienmarkt. Walking the world with open mind and open eyes, Peter Reisenthel realised that there was a lack of functional products and useful day-to-day items, and from this point he continuously developed new products based on his ideas. This is how it all began and how it has continued up to now.

How were the first products developed, and what was the response?
It's a mixture of passion, inventive talents and a good eye for trends that inspired him to create products that make life both nicer and easier.

What sets reisenthel apart from its competitors?
'Keep it easy' has been the trusted philosophy which has guided Peter Reisenthel for more than 40 years, spurring on those who work for the brand. 'To keep' is essentially the core competency, as reisenthel specialises in practical carrying containers. No other manufacturer offers such a wide range of bags, baskets and practical everyday helpers. Meanwhile, the 'easy' part of the saying reflects the claim that reisenthel products make life easier, and refers to the way in which our brand and our products should appear: easy rather than complicated, and always with a certain lightness.
Ease is the foundation for numerous reisenthel signature products; products that are loved by people all over the world.

How important is the location and history of the company to its success?
Peter Reisenthel was born in Munich and as his business grew, the company left the city centre and is now based between Munich and the Alps in the countryside near many lakes, hills and a mountain view. In fact, there's no direct correlation between our location and our company's success all over the world, but isn't it lovely to work in a beautiful region where many others spend their holidays?

How has the product offering changed over the years and how would you describe your current collection?
reisenthel is always identifying trends in fashion, home and interior design at a very early stage and interprets these developments into its own line of products. This generates an ongoing process of brand, product and design innovation. For this year's spring/summer collection, we achieved a trend-led vision by incorporating classic patterns, like dots and stripes, for a refreshed, playful nautical style.

How often do you launch new lines?
We launch one spring and one summer collection each year. Both have one main colour theme, an accent shade and one special edition theme with special prints, stitching and embroideries.

What are the current bestselling designs? Tell me about your recent campaigns.
The success of Peter Reisenthel is not based solely on his innovation and impressive back-catalogue of more than 200 patented products. One of the key aspects of his success is also the wide and colourful range of signature reisenthel decorations that have made both the brand and its products famous. Bestselling print and patterns are spread across the whole collection. Some even became classics, staying in the collection for many years.
The French-inspired Baroque in taupe, '50s in black with its classic British appeal and of course, our Dots pieces in every colour have become bestsellers all over the world. Some of our prints are inspired by the spirit of the time. Some others are timeless. Inspired by modern trends, our latest patterns have had a positive response in the marketplace, particularly pieces such as Spots in navy, Artist Stripes and Aquarius. With regards to our products themselves, the situation is about the same: many pieces have become design icons over the past 40 years, including the carrybag and carrycruiser.

Which trade shows do you attend and which one works best for you?
The main fair for reisenthel is Ambiente in Frankfurt. The brand has exhibited at the Frankfurt show since the event was established. Starting with a small booth in our first year at Ambiente, this stand's size grew with the brand and its internationalisation, reaching its current size of approximately 300sqm of branded and passionate presentation. Aside from this very important close-to-home exhibition, reisenthel presents its collections at shows and expos all over the world, from Tokyo to Milan and Birmingham to Paris - to name just a few. Due to retailers' changing buying habits over the past few years, the focus on our exhibitions has evolved. However, they're obviously still very important, and will remain so as a way of maintaining awareness of the reisenthel brand development.

When was the website launched and how does it support the business?
Our latest website relaunch was in November 2015, with our homepage,, being given a new look and feel. Like many businesses do today, we found a good multi-faceted solution to achieve a widespread marketing approach, communication about the brand and the products, as well as providing our customers with a good service. With regards to supporting the business, our homepage has a B2B portal that provides our customers with many services, starting with easy ordering using special services such as personalising of products to a download centre for marketing aids or documents.

What have been the key milestones in the business?
The best-known of the classic reisenthel products is the carrybag, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2013. This is hardly surprising, as the carrybag created a whole new market segment: as a clever, lightweight shopping solution, it replaced the traditional wicker basket and is now at home in households around the globe. It's one of our most copied products, originally created by Peter Reisenthel himself. As we're intent on always creating new milestones, reisenthel has developed two new product categories. One is our suitcases, the other one our kids' collection. As well as expanding our already vast range, these fresh sectors have opened up new sales opportunities for the brand.

How do you view the current market and what trends, both in product and in business, do you see emerging over the coming months?
One of our emerging product groups is our ISO-Line. Developing and selling insulated products in the Asian markets for many years, these products found their way via America to the European customers. Here, we develop more and more daily helpers adapted to each market's requirements in regards of size, use and design.

What are your future plans for the business?
The same as always: we want to carry on making people's day-to-day schedule easier and their life happier.