Did you know that a company in the small town of Lingen, Germany is the world’s largest supplier of leather jackets. Pretty impressive, right? Mauritius, a 45-year-old company, is still family-ran by founder Juergen Raberg’s children. Now, Christian and Katrin Raberg have set their sights on bringing their distinctive, high-quality designs Stateside. Lyn Baskett, CEO, explains to The Daily how the European company is making a big impression this side of the pond.
Mauritius has been around for 45 years. What has changed and what values remain the same?
The company started by merging commercially exciting designs, unmatchable quality control, and beautiful pricing. Those core values have been the mainstay since the beginning and are still the forefront of the company’s values. Just like a real estate agent would say, “Location, Location, Location” — Mauritius has mandated, “Product, Product, Product!” The best product, the right product, and the promised product. The only change is that initially they were serving the German market primarily. As this has now reached to many, many countries around the world, the design expectations have changed a little between countries. Changes like smaller sizing for the Asian market and more novelty for the U.S. market—all have been accomplished with precision. Mauritius is now a world-wide brand, but runs with the same head of design, the same founding principles, and the determination to adapt to dressing the world in leather jackets.
Why has Mauritius decided to expand into the U.S. and Canada?
It was a natural progression once Mauritius became the strongest leather company in Europe. The USA offers the opportunity to adapt to a new, demanding, and successful market and achieving success here cements Mauritius’ standing as the largest leather jacket company in the world. This move into the USA was led by Christian Raberg, the son of the original founder Juergen Raberg, and allowed Chris to expand and adapt to a new and exciting market.
How will Mauritius work towards its goal to become the largest supplier of leather jackets in the world?
As Mauritius is already the largest in Europe, the continued strong growth in the USA will continue this goal. Through the USA, we are already selling into two countries in South America and also to Japan. Mauritius’s adaptability to local demand, matched by their solid quality control, will ensure this.
Tell us about the design process behind each leather jacket?
The design team in Germany is lead by Elke Raberg, who has overseen the design since the beginning. She is joined by a number of strong, talented designers who create beautiful product for each of the lines they create, as well as unique licensed pieces and private label jackets. The team is deep in talent, commitment, and guidance, and ready for the demands of the new markets. They work with European design resources and follow USA fashion. For the USA, we have a demand for novelty and fashion, not only core styling. The design team listens to us, takes chances on things we ask for, and produces items not yet available on the European continent. The star jacket, the dip-dyes, the peace signs, the fantastic range of colors… all unique for us!
What styles are currently the most popular?
Pieces like Sofia4 is our strongest core piece. It comes in up to eight colors each season; it’s a classic moto style with distressed ‘favorite jacket’ finishing, Our other core piece is Wild, which is also a moto with a more contemporary feel than the novelty pieces. Each season they change, but include embedded stars (Christy), printing (Sofistar2), dip-dye (Debbie) and peace signs (Maysie).
How does the brand always stay ahead of leather trends when it comes to styles and silhouettes?
We listen a lot! We watch and listen to what is happening at retail and—very important—we prioritize seeding stores, key contemporary stores which other stores follow and we push the limits to keep our spot. In addition to WGSN and other European trend sites, we also do trunk shows to stay on top of what the consumer is saying.
What retailers are you working with Stateside? Where can people find you?
Mostly independent boutiques. We work with chains like Hemline, M Fredric, and Scout and Molly’s—but we really focus on contemporary independent boutiques across the USA and Canada. We have 1200 active accounts.
Your leather is plant-dyed, why is this important?
Chromium is used by some companies because it is easier and cheaper, however it is bad for the environment and potentially carcinogenic. Chrome dyes also pollute the waterways. We use vegetable tanning because it is safer for people, safer for the suppliers, safer for the environment, and better for our future.
What other beliefs and processes are important to Mauritius?
We are members of BSCI standards, ensuring safe working standards and conditions for our workers. This is an important aspect of our business. We believe in sustainable resources, creating a world we can contribute to, not draw from. Leather hides are a byproduct of the food industry—the ultimate recycling. No animals are ever killed for their hides, it is an after market byproduct.
What do American customers need to know about your fits?
When people think of a leather jacket, they often think ‘outerwear’. Because of that, they think the fit will be generous as it needs to be worn over a sweater. This is not us. Even though, like many fashion companies, we have a couple of outerwear styles, we are not an outerwear company. Our leather jackets are fashion jackets, meant to be worn as a favorite cardigan over a t-shirt, or as a power jacket in the boardroom. Leather also molds to the body. A baggy leather jacket is not cool. So, the initial response to our fit from customers is that the jackets fit small. They are contemporary and a Euro fit, but remembering how they are designed to be worn helps people understand the fit. We have three separate fits. Regular, which is our standard fit. Slimfit , which is slightly narrower in the sleeve and chest. And Comfort fit, which is our more generous fit through the chest, arms, and length.
Lastly, can you share some tips for maintaining a leather jacket’s condition and quality?
The best thing to remember about taking care of lambskin is that it is authentic leather. Think about how you care for good shoes. If you wear your jacket in the snow and rain, you will want to put a protectant on it. If it gets wet, let it dry on its own slowly. Speed drying leather changes its chemical structure, and you end up with stiff crinkle cut chaos. So room temperature drying with gentle air works better than direct heater time with a hair-dryer. Flat dry and shape it as you want it to end up. If leather gets too dry: rub something moist into it. Pick a leather dressing or cream, preferably recommended by the maker. (Mauritius recommends Collonil.) Under normal wear and tear, you don’t need to do anything to your jacket: just wear it and enjoy it!