FASHION-&-PASSION-3Swiss fashion maestro Lorenz Bach takes inspiration from Gstaad, a landscape allegedly shaped when God rested his hand during a break from creating the world. Bach’s family has farmed this divine countryside for more than 700 years. “We still love to do it,” says Bach, 56, who manages the family farm, in addition to his other enterprises. “We produce organic cheese made in the Swiss mountains with the best air, grass, and water and without any feed on the side,” he adds, a puff of pride in his voice.

Bach’s pride is equally evident in his exclusive shops: Maison Lorenz Bach, the luxury alpine fashion boutique, and its more sporting sibling, Silver Sport, as well as in the workmanship of his signature fashion and handcrafted alpine ski lines and the attention to the minute details of servicing his clientele.

When asked whether he went to school for fashion or retail, Bach dismisses the idea with an emphatic, “No.” He was, however, always interested in clothing and design and also encouraged by the fashionable people who surrounded him. “I’m an entrepreneur,” he explains. “Fashion is my passion.”

I want our clients to be able to take one of our pieces around the world and remember Switzerland

FASHION-&-PASSION-COVERBefore turning that passion into entrepreneurial vision and creating one of Europe’s most posh alpine retail empires, Bach traveled widely. He honed his fashion acumen while working as a ski instructor in South America and Aspen. In 1978, at age 20, he opened his first store, Silver Sport, showcasing skiwear and equipment. Five years later, he launched Maison Lorenz Bach to cater to the fashion needs of the resort’s glamorous and discerning international clientele. The store’s opening established Gstaad as one of the few resorts that offered not only higher brands of fashion but also multiple brands in one shop. Quiet and discreet, authentic and understated, traditional yet chic: Bach’s shops wear these labels with pride.

Silver Sport, which comprises the original store in Rougement and shops in The Alpina Gstaad, The Gstaad Palace Hotel, and The Grand Hotel Park Gstaad, emphasizes alpine skiwear and equipment, including an exclusive line of skis. “Silver Sport skis have sober and simple design, an understated look,” Bach says. “I don’t personally believe in the equipment if it’s too flashy or too bright, especially with fashion. I’d rather have more color on the person.”

This season, the Lorenz Bach line is favoring shearling skins and subtle shades of blue and gray

Maison Lorenz Bach boutiques are located in nearby Swiss resort towns that share a similar clientele and season to Gstaad. Like the original store, those in Villars, Zermatt, Crans-Montana, and Verbier are designed to complement their alpine setting with a warm and cozy ambiance that flirts with international flair. While each is customized to its location, they share an understated elegance and an orchestrated style.

FASHION-&-PASSION-4“We rarely leave the brand together,” Bach says. “We merchandize mainly by looks, mixing and matching what we think can be nice and attractive for our clients; we want to give them the best choice.” That differentiates Maison Lorenz Bach from other retailers, many of which group merchandise by brand, color, or fabrics. “We carry brands such as Bogner, Jet Set, Frauenschuh, and we mix the skiwear with casual wear to be a little bit different than a traditional ski shop, which makes it again, homey and cozy,” he says.

Four years ago, seeking to further distinguish his stores and give his discriminating clientele an exclusive choice, Bach created his signature Lorenz Bach clothing line. “The look is chic, young, modern, wearable, and ageless,” he says. “I want our clients to be able to take one of our pieces around the world and remember Switzerland and the Alps, while wearing it at the port, on the beach, in New York City, or in Aspen.”

FASHION-&-PASSION-1The line is designed not only to garner a bit of attention on its own, but also to pair with other brands, allowing clients to achieve the current look. This season, Bach is favoring shearling skins and subtle shades of blue and gray. “We have some pieces that are really fantastic,” he says, singling out a blouson with a shearling interior and leather exterior with colored seams. He’s also excited about sweaters and jeans printed with decoupage. “It’s nice and Swiss, but not too much old style.”

Currently, the signature line is available in a handful of stores, mostly in Europe and Russia, with a few in the U.S. “I think we have a good name, enough to build a real brand,” he says. “The idea is to build it in Asia and gain more representation in the world’s hot spots.” He plans to expand over the next few years to internationalcities, such as London and Paris.

When Bach looks to the future, he also looks to his children. His oldest son, 27, now runs the Silver Sport stores. His 23- and 24-year-old sons are interested in farming. His 18-year-old daughter is studying and apprenticing in fashion design and fabrication, and his youngest is only 9. “I travel all the time, but my home is here, with my family and my farm,” he says, that puff of pride again in his voice. “And I will always return.”