Purity of the dolomites






The horses always come first in the universe of Karina Fischer and Kathrin Birk. Three years ago, the German designers founded Manifattura Valor – a luxury brand which is based on age old crafts and wool from the Italian Dolomites.


By Camilla Alfthan, photos Jeremias Morandell



The duo met  at the university in Bolzono in Northern Italy where both studied design. When they one day started to make equestrian prototypes they felt that they were on to something right.


”The idea to create the brand came about when we were in a bar where a friend had designed a beautiful mask for a falcon which was embroidered with little crystals. We agreed that people usually buy quality for their home or their wardrobes, but when it comes to the horses…it’s a different story,” tells the founders behind Manifattura Valor; Karina Fischer and Kathrin Birk.


The Italian Dolomites are the symbol for their aspirational values and the purity of the brand. The wool is sourced from local sheep and it’s also here that the designers shot their first campaign with Arabian horses who came from the only breeding station in the Italian Alps.


”Our starting point was the horse as a very natural animal who loves his freedom in the outdoors. For us it is also a very beautiful animal, so we were thinking about how to make a link between the origins of the horse and the natural materials that we wanted to use,” they tell when we meet in Geneva where they are presenting the brand.


“People usually buy quality for their home or their wardrobes, but when it comes to the horses…it’s a different story”


While Karina flirted with the equestrian universe as a child near Munich where she was given riding lessons, Kathrin literally grew up with her family’s horses near Stuttgart.

With a changing climate with frequent showers and cool winters the materials used for the horses were crucial.

”I always knew about the felt and the different kinds of wool that my father said worked the best for the horses, but they had become hard to find. No one seemed to make them anylonger, perhaps because they were expensive. Now people come to us with their woolen blankets that they use for their horses  – even if they were not made for it,” tells Kathrin.


Instead of just going back to how it used to be, the designers wanted to create something new that looked modern and sophisticated.


”People love their horses for their beauty and they have an aesthetic view. So we wanted to transform the authentic materials into beautiful design. Even if it’s just felt it can still look good.”


Finding the craftsmen, however, was a difficult task. After several tests they ended up with six different manufacturers who are situated in Italy and Southern Germany.


”It’s not a normal product that they’re working on and they’re not too open as they are always family manufacturers, so they don’t want to let out their secrets. Until they trust you it’s difficult as they rarely work with people who come from outside.”


And on her first thoroughbred, Samey 


Kathrin Birk on her furry thoroughbred –  below Karina Fischer.


Karina Fischer surrounded by horses


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