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3 December 2017

Christmas market insight - castle Kottingbrunn: Heissenberger-Schönau knitwear made on historical machines which tell the history of Austrian textile industry

Recently on 2 December, Fashionoffice visited the Christmas market at the water castle Kottingbrunn nearby Vienna in Lower Austria. The market will be continued on the upcoming weekends (8 - 10 Dec, 16- 17 Dec; details). Around 130 exhibitors in the courts and inside the castle present culinary - from marmalades over bakeries to beverages, home accessories, art, jewelry, or clothing such as Maximilian Heissenberger who founded 2014 the knitwear manufactory 'Heissenberger-Schönau'. One of the products are the socks 'Die Österreicher', translated 'The Austrians' (image right) with the eye-catching red-white-red pattern of the country's national flag. The production is flexible; patterns can be customized. Maximilian Heissenberger's interest for mechanical machines is the driving force behind the knitwear label; he found the first machine by chance - and used the fortune for developing the business. Through the years, Heissenberger-Schönau has collected additional machines which originate from the former Bernhard Altmann factory in Vienna (history). Historical machines and the history of the Austrian textile industry are essential for the self-definition of the young knitwear label.

Bernhard Altmann is one of the representatives of Austrian textile industry's glory times which were interrupted by World War II. Altmann had to escape to London and later to the USA where he became famous for casual cashmere clothing - such as the sweater which is nowadays on view at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum in New York. After WWII, Bernhard Altmann re-started the factory in Vienna and delivered from here products to the USA where the wife of his brother Maria Altmann (her life was documented in the movie 'Woman in Gold') was partner of the cashmere sweater business. (The Vintage Fashion Guild publishes a Bernhard Altmann biography and collection of labels of sweaters made in Austria.)

Machine expert Maximilian Heissenberger revived with the production of hemp and merino wool knitwear not only old machines, he throws light on the history of the Austrian textile industry.


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