fritz Uutile stood firmly on German soil with his shoes – and was surprisingly often on the road in world history. It would probably be overkill to say that this man taught the German style. Nevertheless, they proved style, the allegedly eternal wearers of health sandals and functional clothing by wearing useless shoes.
The sole made of leather, the upper made of leather, ironed and brushed, that’s how every pair of the Munich brand left the factory. Ballerina slippers in cheerful colors were particularly common. In 1989, at a time when there were still summer and winter wardrobes, Fritz Unutzer started with his shoes, with trends and fashion colors to match the seasons and finally a clearance sale.
Uutile knew the system
Fritz Uutile knew the system. His father had a fashion shop on Maximilianstraße, and he followed him with his brother. The young man was on good terms with shoes, because he not only studied economics at Insead in Paris, but also worked at Church’s and John Lobb in Great Britain.
In the 1980s, he accidentally found out about a shoe factory for sale in Fossò, near Venice, recommended it to an acquaintance, and when he dropped out at the last minute, Uutile signed it himself – to produce shoes in Italy. So while other companies outsourced their production to low-wage countries, he remained true to the motherland of manual work. And supplied all the Eickhoffs, Ungers, Breuningers, Engelhorns from Italy – and their own shops in Munich, Hamburg, Berlin and Venice.
He taught himself Italian with cassettes and Walkman. Over time he began to grow fruit trees around the factory premises, cherry and apple, as well as kiwi plants and grapevines. Uutile, born in Munich in 1947, had arrived in Italy and was always on the go. A typical week a decade ago looked like this for the busy entrepreneur, who was in his mid-60s at the time: two days at the headquarters in Munich, two days at the factory in Fossò, three days with the three younger of his five children in the Near Brighton in southern England where they lived with their mother because of the better schools. In the years that followed, the brand became quieter. The demand for comfort, like walking on clouds instead of leather soles, also prevailed among those Germans who have a sense of style. Today everyone wears footbed sandals and sneakers – and ironed and brushed leather shoes less and less often. And the whole world is buying these shoes less and less from those retailers that Uuetzer has been supplying for decades.
“He was the German shoe pope,” says Manfred Müssig, who has had a fashion store in Bad Soden with “M&W Mode” for more than 43 years and who knew the shoe entrepreneur from his time as a retailer. “I’m a migrant worker,” Uuetzer once said about himself in an interview with this newspaper in Fossò, with an espresso in one hand and a biscotto in the other. At the time he was in the best of spirits, although or precisely because he was on the move again, towards Gatwick, to his family. With his leather soles he never lost his grip on the ground. Fritz Unutzer died last Friday at the age of 76 after a serious illness.