Made to measure: Korbinian Ludwig Heß

Korbinian Ludwig Heß, Fotografie © Maria Dolecek

The art of tailoring occu­pies a special posi­tion in the German Craft Council. The tailor takes indi­vid­u­al­i­sa­tion to the extreme and repre­sents every­thing that runs counter to the current trend towards mech­a­ni­sa­tion and deper­son­al­i­sa­tion. Custom tailors still work very clas­si­cally, they cannot multiply their busi­ness model, because they them­selves are almost 100% involved in their work and cannot distribute it on work­benches — and last but not least they advise their customers person­ally. Often not only once, but over a longer consulting process. It goes without saying that custom-made shirts, suits or shoes have to be more expen­sive.

A threatened and yet stable niche

Custom tailors take measure­ments from the customer, draw the cut and then manu­fac­ture the respec­tive garment. Depending on customer require­ments, they use a variety of fabrics (cotton, silk, wool, etc.). Some tailors also produce series produc­tion (ready-made garments). They also repair damaged garments and make changes.

Training in Germany lasts three years and takes place in the dual training system at voca­tional schools and training compa­nies. School-based training is also avail­able as an alter­na­tive. In training, a distinc­tion is made between the disci­plines of ladies’ tailor and men’s tailor. Today there are two exam­i­na­tion levels, the journeyman’s exam­i­na­tion and the master craftsman’s exam­i­na­tion. With the latter one acquires the right to train appren­tices.

Korbinian Ludwig Heß, Foto © Martin Smolka

In old West Berlin

In the west of Berlin, one of the currently most sought-after tailors works: Korbinian Ludwig Heß.

Custom-made shoes by Korbinian Ludwig Heß trans­late the person­ality of their wearer into a centuries-old craft. Built to fit the feet, stature and char­acter of the wearer, the shoes follow Heß’ claim to give an outer but above all an inner posture. Foot measure­ments and their condi­tion, body size, gait, up to char­acter traits, phys­iog­nomy and purpose for which the shoe is to be worn, all circum­stances give infor­ma­tion which criteria the custom shoe must fulfil, favour the choice of the leather used as well as the shape of the finished shoe. A pair of made-to-measure shoes from the Korbinian Ludwig Heß work­shop in Berlin embody the highest stan­dards of indi­vid­u­ality and exclu­sivity and accom­pany you throughout your life.

Heß learnt his trade at the former k. u. k. Court shoe­maker Rudolf Scheer & Sons in Vienna. A hand­crafting-foun­da­tion, followed by stays with shoe­makers in London, Freiburg and Munich, in order to formu­late and refine his own style. This is char­ac­terised by a simple elegance and connec­tion to mini­malism. The texture and high quality of the leather used are empha­sised. The quality of the crafts­man­ship and the work­man­ship are essen­tial: a renun­ci­a­tion of orna­men­ta­tion, which forces a struc­tural integrity of the shoe.