Lorenz Ganter –
Traditional clothing from Bavaria

We have already introduced Lorenz Ganter, a tailor specializing in men’s clothing, as the manufacturer of my green linen jacket. In January 2024, I finally had the opportunity to visit the company, which is based in Ismaning near Munich.

I arrived on the S-Bahn from the city center. It is a 10 to 15 minute walk from the S-Bahn stop. It was a gray and cold day, but you could see that Ismaning is a pretty little town. As a North German, it seemed very Bavarian to me, tidy and cozy. There is a castle, a castle park, several churches and a surprising number of very inviting-looking inns and hotels. The company is located, almost a little hidden, in a residential area. Only when you stand in front of the house with the number you are looking for is it recognizable as such by a small sign. As I had an appointment with the owner, I went in after knocking briefly. In the office, I first met Brigitta Ganter, daughter-in-law of the company founder Lorenz Ganter and mother of the current boss Dieter Ganter. Dieter Ganter was just in the tailor’s shop and joined us a few minutes later.
Dieter Ganter took me to the workshop at the back of the flat-roofed building, where four of the six employees were working. Three were sitting at their sewing machines, one employee was cutting fabric at a large work table. The music from the radio mingled with the sound of the sewing machines. While I was taking photos, Dieter Ganter told the story of the family business.

Grandfather Lorenz Ganter had learned the trade of men’s tailor in Lower Bavaria, after which he worked in production at Lodenfrey in Munich. Today Lodenfrey is a fashion house, but originally it was a weaving mill specializing in loden in the middle of Munich. The waterproof impregnated loden is an invention of Lodenfrey and was a worldwide export success. The rhyming advertising slogan “I don’t care about the weather, my coat is from Lodenfrey” was familiar to many Germans at the time. At the end of the 1920s, Lodenfrey had started to manufacture loden coats in Munich, where Lorenz Ganter worked.

He resigned from Lodenfrey in 1936 and set up his own tailoring business. His self-employment was short-lived, as he was lured to Saxony by a good offer. There he became a production manager in a ready-to-wear company. Saxony was an important location for the textile industry at the time. At the end of the war, Saxony was initially occupied by the US army, but the victorious powers had already agreed in 1944 that Saxony, Thuringia, Anhalt and the Prussian province of Anhalt, now Saxony-Anhalt, would become part of the Russian occupation zone. The Allies had agreed on this once again at the Yalta Conference in 1945. However, the population only heard rumors of this in June 1945. As a result, many companies relocated their production to the West, with a particularly large number of companies settling in Bavaria.

Lorenz Ganter also went back home and stayed with his parents-in-law in Ismaning. He began working in their laundry room in 1946. As there were half a dozen other tailor shops in the area, the new business was not exactly welcome. But Lorenz Ganter persevered and kept going. He began sewing clothes from uniform fabrics. In terms of color, traditional costumes and coats were the perfect choice. A black and white photo in the office shows the simple building where it all began. Lorenz Ganter has remained at this location to this day. The rooms have only become slightly larger. Until the 1970s, there were still many orders from domestic customers. At that time, it was still common for mail order companies, for example, to have their products sewn by suppliers in Germany. Dieter Ganter, who was born in 1968, saw how coats were cut and sewn on a grand scale as a child.

In the 1980s, fewer and fewer ready-to-wear garments were sewn in Germany and more and more companies relocated their factories abroad, e.g. to southern Europe or North Africa. Dieter Ganter’s father therefore changed direction and specialized in smaller clients. His motto was “if you are more expensive, you have to be more flexible”. Lorenz Ganter no longer made large quantities, but he offered high quality and individual service. At the end of the 1980s, the company opened up to end consumers and began accepting individual orders. They now account for around 50 percent of the business. It also supplies numerous traditional costume and music clubs. They generally get their outfits in ready-to-wear sizes, but in many cases they are customized because they simply wouldn’t fit otherwise.

“If size 60 is not enough, then we simply make an individual cut,” explains Dieter Ganter. He trained as a men’s tailor, so perfecting the fit is no problem for him. Nevertheless, he clearly distinguishes himself from traditional men’s tailoring, and his work is industrially processed out of conviction. “We don’t prick the interlinings and we don’t make hand buttonholes either.” The piped buttonholes, which are often used for traditional jackets, are no different for the tailor. Dieter Ganter is convinced of the quality he offers. “The insoles we use, for example, are very soft.” This is particularly noticeable in pieces made from summer fabrics, which are very light and soft. And with heavy loden fabrics you don’t notice the difference anyway. A kind of laced bodice can be seen on one bust. Does Lorenz Ganter also make dirndls? “There are enough specialists out there, we don’t want to compete with them,” replies Dieter Ganter. Nevertheless, women’s fashion is a very rewarding area, he admits. “We’re currently experimenting with a few models.” Lorenz Ganter supplies jackets, jackets and coats for ladies anyway. For a long time, however, coats were rarely ordered by customers. However, the samples hanging on a pole show that Lorenz Ganter has a lot of experience in this field. “We used to make a lot of coats, then very few for quite a while. Recently, we’ve had more requests for them again.”

There is a large selection of fabrics in stock. Loden comes mainly from Mehler in Tirschenreuth, Germany’s oldest cloth factory. The loden fabrics from Leichtfried and Steiner come from Austria. The warehouse also stocks Scottish tweed and various worsted fabrics, e.g. for pants. Velvet is very important to Lorenz Ganter, which is why it is available in 28 different colors. Loden is not only available in green, brown or gray. Especially in France, fashion in traditional costume style in striking colors is appreciated. In fact, France is an export market for Lorenz Ganter, for which “Lorenz Ganter France” is responsible. A Frenchman who travels to France 4 to 5 times a year does the distribution. Otherwise, Lorenz Ganter mainly sells to Germany.

Most of the customers are retailers, including some very well-known addresses. Names will not be revealed for reasons of discretion. The special cuts and equipment details that Lorenz Ganter supplies for these customers also remain exclusive. “So you can’t come and say, please make me the jacket that fashion house X gets from you,” emphasizes Dieter Ganter. End consumers can buy directly off the shelf in Ismaning. The store has no shop window, but anyone who knows the address and makes the detour to Ismaning will find a large selection. And if you don’t find what you’re looking for, you can place an individual order. I myself had a length of Leichtfried’s hunting lines with me during my visit to Austria. We will report on the suit that Lorenz Ganter is making for me in part 2 of the report. I was particularly impressed by the quality of the workmanship, the variety of model shapes and the customization options. Since each part is cut individually by hand and sewn by hand, i.e. no punching machines or automatic machines are used, special requests can be taken into account at every stage. Although the patterns are based on ready-to-wear sizes, they can easily be altered. There is also a surprisingly large selection of bar goods for sale in the store, which is located in the same building. Of course, the ready-to-wear items can also be altered, as the tailor’s shop is right next door. So a visit to Lorenz Ganter is definitely worthwhile if you are interested in clothing in traditional costume style.