Paris-based designer Andreas Steiner melds the centuries-old savoir-faire of the artisans of the northern Italian alpine region with his singular vision of elegant-yet-functional aesthetics
- Who is it? Rier is the label of South Tyrolean-born Paris-based designer Andreas Steiner.
- Why do I want it? “Flawlessly decontextualised heritage luxury garments” rooted in an ethos of timeless design and quality, produced by a network of local Austrian and Italian artisans.
- Where can I find it? Rier is available through the label’s own website as well as via SSENSE, The Broken Arm, Voo Store, Modes, La Garçonne, and other international retailers.
Who is it? Growing up in South Tyrol, the autonomous northern Italian alpine region which borders Austria, firmly anchored Rier founder Andreas Steiner’s approach to design in a “realness”. “I don’t want to be nostalgic, but I always refer to these moments as a child which were the nicest moments for me ... you didn’t have electricity, you just had these beautiful surroundings and it’s very much connected to nature,” he reminisces. To combat the mercurial alpine climate, which could often see snow in summer, “you had to have good clothes. You had to be ready. It’s just a different approach that will always stay with me.”
With such a sensitivity for quality, utilitarian clothing ingrained in him, Steiner moved to Milan to study fashion design – an education that was grounded in technicity. But it was during an exchange in London, where there was much more “liberty in terms of creativeness”, that he found his voice. “I always had that limit in terms of realness due to how I grew up – like the German mother tongue and culture which is much more reality-driven,” explains the designer. “But I think that my education was the right balance in that I understood, OK, you can push the creativeness and then bring it back into reality.”
After working at Prada, Miu Miu and Louis Vuitton, Steiner took time off to reconnect with South Tyrol. “I started looking to small artisans, craftsmen, family-run businesses, producers, fabrics, and I saw something in the quality,” he says. “I loved the idea of how I could wear things from the mountains, take a flight and then arrive directly in Paris for dinner wearing exactly the same thing.” And so, with the idea of melding the centuries-old savoir-faire of the artisans of his region with his singular vision of elegant-yet-functional aesthetics, Steiner launched his label Rier in 2019.
From day one, Steiner’s paced approach has been to create a core collection of essential garments – including outerwear, knitwear, and accessories – of such integrity as to encourage the wearer to imbue a lifetime of memory and experience within each piece. In many ways, by decontextualising the fabrics, styles and craftsmanship inherent to South Tyrol to a more modern cityscape like Paris, the designer has so elegantly elaborated a new definition of luxury: one that is rooted in the timeless aesthetics, durability and functionality of his garments. Not a corner is cut, not a detail overlooked – an ethos to both design and live by.
Why do I want it? At the heart of Rier is Steiner’s unparalleled ability to translate functionality into elegant garments, crafted in respect of both the wearer and the environment within which they exist. Take, for example, Rier’s Walker coat, a refined reimagining of a 500-year-old traditional regional garment into softened, modern tailoring (in his latest collection, it takes the form of a two-piece suit) with pocket detailing to support contemporary life. Similarly, the label’s signature fleece updates the alpine classic in a 100 per cent weather-resistant wool, avoiding all microplastics, and completed with secure Swiss-made Riri® zippers. In every design instant, Steiner works with regionally produced, time-tested materials that ensure the durability of the garment throughout a life well lived, while having minimal impact on the surrounding natural environment.
To support such a rigorous ethos, Steiner works with a network of personally vetted family-run and heritage businesses, based in Austria and Italy. In doing so, he looks to not only support local industry but also to pay homage to the savoir-faire of each person involved in the process. “You have to respect who they are. If you get to know the people that make it, you understand that they have a reason why it looks like that for a hundred years,” he explains. “If I don’t find a producer that I like the structure of and how they work, I’m just not going to make the product. I’m not going to do a product if I can’t stand behind it.”
With his latest collection, Steiner uses locally made artisanal fabrics as the starting point to venture into eveningwear: lush velvets, felted wool, silk moire are deftly tailored into high-slit skirts, floor-length evening coats and perfectly structured blouses. He also continues his collaboration with Viennese shoemaker Ludwig Rieter on an elegant reinterpretation of an archival boot, as well as enlisting the expertise of a traditional South Tyrolean leather artisan to create meticulously hard-carved accessories.
Despite the profound rigour that underpins Rier, what sets Steiner apart is his special ability to combine this precision with a profound sense of personal connection: he knows each of his producers personally, he continuously pays homage to the artisans who came before him, and each of his essential designs is available to be made-to-measure. For above all, it appears that the South Tyrolean designer is moved by a life lived with ease, with beauty, and with respect for its surrounding environment.
Where can I find it? Rier is available through the label’s own website as well as via SSENSE, The Broken Arm, Voo Store, Modes, La Garçonne, and many other international retailers.