By and  on July 7, 2008

With more retail real estate deals in 2007 than any other German city, Berlin's shopping areas are certainly on the move — and nowhere more so than the blocks around Hackescher Markt, now a magnet for progressive labels and streetwear.

According to the "Retail Report Berlin," published in June by real estate consultancy CB Richard Ellis, the neighborhood has become a breeding ground for the latest trends and new retail concepts.

Streets around Hackescher Markt now have a concentration of trend-focused labels unparalleled in Germany. This factor, combined with high foot traffic, is increasingly attracting a host of big names from all over the world, the latest being Japanese design giant Muji, which opened its two-floor 3,400-square-foot store at 1 Hackescher Markt in May. But according to CBRE, this is just the beginning, with more top international brands expected by the end of the year.

Although rising rents are pushing out labels lower in the food chain, creativity and individuality remain the keys to succeeding in the trendy zone. Hometown designer Michael Michalsky's first store at 4 Monbijouplatz was designed by Michalsky himself. The poppy red and black interiors reflect his sophisticated but playful collections, with quirky objects, Berlin history books and portraits of men in uniform juxtaposed with the space's essentially sleek lines.

Also with a strong red- and-black theme is Marlies Dekkers' first store in Berlin and ninth worldwide, at 1 Oranienburgerstrasse. It features the Dutch intimate apparel designer's signature buttoned, white leatherette wall display units and neo-Baroque tables. But always site-specific, she designed oriental black and terra-cotta wallpaper dotted with owls for Berlin, hung the chandeliers with dark amber crystals and painted the furniture red or black. Looking like a cross between chic club and racy boudoir, the downstairs salon juxtaposes good girl and bad, naughty and nice — much like Dekkers' strap-happy designs.

Opening just in time for fashion week, Bread & Butter's denim and accessories store, 14 oz., is taking over a 5,400-square-foot space that was a cafe, complete with garden, at 13 Neue Schönhauser Strasse. The brainchild of Bread & Butter founder Karl-Heinz Müller, this is a follow-up to the cult Nineties 14 oz. denim store in Cologne. The focus is on long-term style rather than short-lived throwaway fashion, according to Müller.The shop will host weekly special events, such as an exhibition about Mount Everest conqueror Sir Edmund Hillary, complete with the original clothes of the Himalaya expedition and replicas from Nigel Cabourn's Aim High collection.

The last time Wolfgang Joop decided to clean house (and assorted warehouse facilities), the result was a record-breaking Art Deco sale at Sotheby's New York. This time, the Potsdam-based designer and passionate collector is staying closer to home. The 1,600-square-foot Wunderkind Vintage store will open July 17 at 76 Tucholskystrasse. For sale are "special finds" from creators including Vionet, Poiret, Ossie Clark, Jean Muir and others, as well as show pieces, couture pieces and prototypes that are more than one year old from Joop's own Wunderkind collection.

For labels still on the way up, avant-garde boutique Konk, at 15 Kleine Hamburger Strasse, will set up a temporary showroom, Beck's Fashion Experience Store, to profile young designers from July 17 to Aug. 16.

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