Style Council Spotlight: Mr Markus Meindl On The Cultural Highlights Of Munich

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Style Council Spotlight: Mr Markus Meindl On The Cultural Highlights Of Munich

Words by Mr Shane C Kurup

27 October 2021

To say that Mr Markus Meindl has design dexterity in his DNA would be an understatement. As an 11th-generation descendent of a family that has been championing fine leather footwear, lederhosen, workwear and suede biker jackets since 1683, he has a pedigree in the trade that few could match. At the tender age of eight, he started sewing bags and bracelets in his family’s factory to gift to school chums. By 14, he was designing his own jackets. He went on to train at Regent, the prestigious German tailoring company that makes suits to rival the likes of Brioni and Kiton in their execution, before studying fashion and clothing technology at the College für Mode und Bekleidungstechnik in Ebensee, Austria.

Today, he heads the family firm’s apparel arm, Meindl Fashion, while his cousin takes care of the footwear side of the business. “He’s the shoemaker, I’m the tailor,” Meindl says. As a native of the southern German province of Bavaria, where his family business has always been based, the region’s cultural capital Munich has long been his stomping ground. Now, as a respected member of MR PORTER’s Style Council, he gives us the insider intelligence on his hometown – along with his singular approach to getting dressed.

Where would you take a new visitor to Munich first?

The English Garden [Englischer Garten] – it’s one of the world’s biggest urban parks and one of the places I love most in the city. There’s a surfing spot (the Eisbach River at the southern end of the park) where a lot surfers and a cool crowd hangout, waiting to ride the wave, or just spectate. It’s great just to grab a beer and watch the action – especially in the summer. You always bump into interesting people there.

For you, what place defines the spirit of modern Munich?

The Lehel. It’s part of the old town and there’s a lot of beautiful Italianate architecture – Munich is sometimes called the northernmost city of Italy – but there’s also some incredible modernist architecture in between the classical buildings. You’ve got the river there, too, and the area is full of beautiful restaurants, bars and coffee shops. You can walk around the area easily as there’s not much traffic. It has that comforting feel of a small town or village. If you live there and have a rooftop, it’s just a fantastic place to be.

What does Munich excel at from a design perspective?

You can’t speak about design heritage in Munich and not discuss BMW. The modernist HQ, and what goes on there from an engineering perspective, is a great example of the city’s design prowess. In contrast, you have the classical architecture of Maximilian Street and the opera house [Bayerische Staatsoper] in the same town. That combination of old and new design gives the city an authenticity that you don’t come across that often.

Tell us about your work uniform.

There’s a rugged honesty to my work style. I’ll wear pieces like military shirts layered with a classic white or leather shirt. Essentially, its apparel made from robust, enduring materials in classic shapes, paired with some well-made boots. I’d describe my style as “Gebirgsstädter” – it’s a phrase that denotes a person who lives between two worlds: the rough mountains in one realm and the town in the other. If you like nature and the spirit of the city, you live between these two worlds. My style is based on this philosophy – mixing casual, rustic pieces with more polished city wear, which suits my lifestyle perfectly.

What are the most indispensable items in your wardrobe?

My Meindl leather Coach jacket is a mainstay. I do everything in it. I go hunting in it and I can also wear it in the evening with a cravat. It’s one of those pieces you can just live in. It’s made a lot of trips with me all around the world. The same goes for my Long Island leather trousers. They’re really versatile pieces that go with everything and work in any country you wind up in. My Arizona shearling coat is another favourite. It’s soft, warm, comforting and truly timeless. And the older it gets, the better it looks.

Which restaurant in Munich serves your favourite dish?

The kalbsbries (sweetbreads) at Les Deux are the best in town. The restaurant serves typical French cuisine with a contemporary twist. The owners, Fabrice and Katrin Kieffer, were from France originally before they relocated and established this restaurant in Munich. They’re the perfect hosts. Fabrice has a background in wine, so as you’d expect, the carte des vin has an incredible selection of bottles.

What’s your favourite place to go for a nightcap in town?

The Cortiina Hotel is one of the oldest design hotels in Munich and has a fantastic atmosphere whatever time you go. It’s small and intimate – I’m not a fan of big hotels. Although it’s in the centre of the city, it’s on a quiet road and the bar downstairs is a great place to be in the evening. It has a cosy, warm ambiance. I’d always order a gin and tonic or some rum – there’s a great range of rums. It’s also one of my passions. Two friends and I started our own rum brand two years ago, called 4X50. Traditional rums are usually loaded with sugar, but we decided to take a more contemporary approach and reduced the sugar content. This sense of modernity is also reflected in the bottle design. If you see the bottle and taste the spirit, you’ll understand.

How did you develop your sense of style?

When I was 14, I couldn’t find the sort of jacket that I wanted, so at night, I started tailoring one of my own. I took some old jeans and shearling and made my first jacket for myself. Then at 16, I made another one, which I wore to the Munich International Sports Fair and people from places like Australia and Canada were coming up to me and asking, “Can I buy that jacket from you?” I was offered 2,000 marks for it. That was a lot of money 30 years ago. I didn’t sell it. This jacket became a big success for the company and it started my career. I’ve always had an independent nature and just done my own thing, which is really how my style evolved.

What is your favourite clothing brand and why?

Although I wear a lot of my own clothes, I’m a big fan of RRL. The vintage aesthetic and way the brand makes its clothes are just brilliant. Workmanship is very important to me and it’s a brand that shows a lot of respect to artisanal techniques. It takes a lot of inspiration from cowboys and native Americans and I love the craft skills associated with these aesthetics. It also chimes with the work that I do with my own brand, Meindl Fashion. It was the first brand to really make this look fashionable and, crucially, it’s not fast fashion – it’s enduring and sustainable. The handmade pieces and shirting are exquisite and if I’m after a military jacket, a folksy belt or a good pair of jeans, I always go to RRL.

Interior of Grapes Wine Bar at Cortiina Hotel, Munich. Photograph by Kull Weinzierl, courtesy of Cortiina Hotel

Style recommendations:

Life motto: Buy cheap and you buy twice.

Style tip: You can never go wrong by double layering on top – a fine-gauge polo neck beneath a shirt always looks good.

Suits: TOM FORD is always my first choice. I know him personally and he’s always impressed me with what he does. The cut, fit and materials of his tailoring is impeccable – you really feel how good it is when you put it on.

Watch: Hublot Big Bang Bavaria. I don’t wear it everyday, but for special occasions where I need to be a little more styled. It’s the only watch I have. I helped design it, so it’s sentimental.

Grooming: Fresh air is all you really need, but I’m a big fan of TOM FORD fragrances. I’ve around 10 different scents from the range, and, like my shirts, I like to layer them.

Vehicle: Yamaha XT motorbike. I got this when I was 18 and it kick-started a life-long passion for motorcycles and racing.

What to wear – and where