By  on October 26, 2005

Hamburg is a large, sprawling city filled with cool, calm, patrician elegance on one hand, raucous Reeperbahn district low life on the other, with an added dash of harbor romance as large stretches of industrial waterside are renovated or reinvented. When it comes to youth culture, however, the scene has converged in the somewhat rundown and very multiculti Schanzen and Karolinenviertel quarters. Stocked with independent designer boutiques, vintage shops, comfortably shabby cafes and assorted bars and clubs, this is Hamburg at its most bohemian.

Marktstrasse in Karolinenviertel is young designer row and a must for fashion individualists. Kick off with Druck Dealer (print dealer) at number 102, a boutique-atelier-exhibition space for hand-printed T-shirts and more from artists Nele Maack and Gesa Lange. Shoe designer Inga Thomas recently set up shop at number 117, where she creates lively vegan footwear—the skins are leather imitations from Italy. The interior, on the other hand, is minimalist retro-butcher, and the foot powder to ease try-ons is champagne-based.

Hans Peter Reuker at Reuker HP, 133 Marktstrasse, stitches up classics with a twist, such as a denim jacket with attached hoodie or a hooded satin dress. Decoy at number 145 is a new joint project from Hamburg labels Sugarcube, Tazuma and Goldmarie, offering women's, men's and babies' clothing and accessories in three in-store shops plus a mini hair salon in the back. Artist "happenings" and exhibits are also planned, one can play ping-pong in the backyard. The front stoop has become a casual extension of the Panter cafe across the street.

Karo Dame, 147 Marktstrasse, offers such street gear as embroidered fatigues and ponyskin bags.

Cross the street and check out Peter Pützer's vintage shoes and accessories from the Twenties to the Eighties at U2 at number 1a. Andreas Linzner at number 6 creates irresistible stuffed animals, toiletry cases, pillows and more from recycled towels, bathrobes and curtains, which he buys and lovingly restores by the ton.

It's T-shirt central at Shirt Lab, number 16, and Garment at number 25 features clean, hip looks from Kathrin Müller and Ullinca Schröder. Next door, Sium's Regina Stehenbock takes an ironic approach to simple shapes, playful detailing and fabrics like cotton calico, jersey and denim in her very graphic second-floor space at number 27. Suspect at number 28 is a retro treasure trove for Forties to Seventies fans, with an amazing selection of slips and costume jewelry.

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