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Berlin’s retail scene continues to heat up, fueled by a constant stream of shop-happy tourists. On the big-name trail, Hugo Boss and Filippa K are the latest to open flagships on Kurfürstendamm, Berlin West’s most important shopping street. At the same time, the ongoing popularity of the area around the Hackescher Markt in Mitte is reflected in recent openings by Karl Lagerfeld and The Kooples, with Nike taking over about 6,000 square feet there later in 2014.
This story first appeared in the January 8, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Of particular interest, however, is the latest batch of independent retailers that have opened in the city’s trendier neighborhoods over the last few months. Three trends stand out:
• Berlin-based designers and brands eager to activate their own retail stage;
• Assortments with a specific ethnic or national focus;
• Stores specializing in sustainable, eco-friendly and fair trade items.
Here are a dozen of the city’s most inviting new shops.
In a minimal and modern retail environment integrating a workshop and design studio, customers can browse an assortment of small leather goods and accessories, while viewing the process of creating a custom laptop case or iPhone case. All made in Berlin, Lapàporter’s useful leather accessories are handcrafted of solid, color-blocked or braided leather, plus suede or python skin, and range from 59 to 400 euros, or about $81 to $547 at current exchange.
— Norma Quinto
65 Brunnenstrasse (Wedding)
Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Maike Dietrich is the latest Berlin designer to go the “own shop” route, taking over part of the contemporary jewelry Galerie Oona for her knitwear label Maiami. Turning a hobby into a business, Dietrich learned traditional knitting techniques passed down by her family, and offers lush handcrafted knit items in soft pure wools from Germany and mohair from Italy.
Current highlights are a multicolor wool/mohair sweater for 255 euros (about $350) and a virgin wool knit cap for 69 euros (about $94). Also featured in the shop are vases, pillows, lamp shades and laptop bags, all in Maiami’s signature knits.
26 Auguststrasse (Mitte)
Tuesday to Saturday, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Owner Ana Santos wants Berliners to experience her love for her native Portugal through a wide range of Portuguese products, as well as bringing traditional handmade items and new design concepts into the realm of everyday life.
Her shop, which also houses a small café, focuses on sustainable products in materials including wood, wool, cork and felt, though notebooks, candles, soaps and Portuguese specialties including jams, wine and spices are also part of the assortment. One design novelty, the “I’m so Tired” stool, is made from a recycled car tire wrapped in colorful yarn for 390 euros (about $535). Santos hosts regular in-store exhibitions and installations, as well as wine tastings and film evenings to complement her retail concept.
121 Linienstrasse (Mitte)
Tuesday to Friday, noon to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
SILO STORE BERLIN
The new Silo concept store in Prenzlauer Berg stocks specialties such as wine, chocolate and olives, alongside accessories including bags, blankets, home furnishings and children’s toys. All products have been designed and/or manufactured by traditional artisans in Spain.
The store is the project of architect Julieta Benito Sanz and designer Elena Nieto — both from Madrid — and Colombian Cristina Schuttmann, who worked in theater and film production.
Placing emphasis on sustainability and artisanal production methods, each product tells its own story. Notable items are Eco Alf vests and jackets made from recycled fishing nets or recycled plastic bottles, selling for 82 to 199 euros (about $112 to $270).
33 Senefelderstrasse (Prenzlauer Berg)
Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
What started as an online business a year ago is now a shop catering to anyone fascinated by ethnic folklore. Owner Katharina Koppenwallner is an art historian who works as a stylist, and who has a passion for costumes. Every item in the shop is handmade. Many pieces are embroidered by indigenous people from around the world, from Romania or China to Guatemala or Laos, and often decorated with tassels and pom-poms.
Koppenwallner stresses the importance of bringing back the traditions of these cultures to our time. The offer includes blouses from Bukovina, aprons and tunics from Kalotaszeg, embroidered Romanian dresses and embellished men’s jackets.
50 Almstadtstrasse (Mitte)
Thursday to Saturday, noon to 7 p.m.
Berlin’s first ecological and sustainable lifestyle shop for men’s fashion is entirely dedicated to designer ranges. It was founded by British sustainability expert Michael Ashley and Kinetic A.M.’s Alan Sommerville from Scotland, out of a desire to showcase brands that wed style, function and sustainability.
“People are starting to care about what they wear, what they put on their skin, as much as what they eat, and we are here to help customers find fashion for a better way of life,” Ashley said.
Sophisticated yet cozy, the interior stays true to the cause, making use of upcycled wood, sustainable clay, nontoxic colorants and energy-saving lighting. The diverse range of sustainable products includes Mill Organic natural cosmetics, organic cotton sports jackets, Elvis & Kresse’s recycled accessories, Veja’s stylish and ecological leather sneakers and Clans of Scotland cashmere scarves.
31 Max-Beer-Strasse (Mitte)
Wednesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
HAPPY SOCKS POP-UP STORE
Swedish friends Viktor Tell and Mikael Söderlindh, whose vision is to spread happiness by turning an everyday essential into a colorful design piece, have now brought the Happy Socks collective of creators and their playful hosiery to Berlin.
The brand’s long line of collaborations continues this season with David LaChapelle, a photographer well known for his provocative style. The result is a short movie and photographs bursting with party-favor colored socks, and a campaign of naked, steeled bodies with dazzling scenery. The Berlin shop, one of more than 30 recent round-the-world pop-ups, will stay open until Feb. 28.
11C Munzstrasse (Mitte)
Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Australian natural care line Aesop’s first German store rubs elbows with trendy Mitte neighbors including frequent Aesop partner A.P.C. Designed by local architecture and design firm Weiss-heiten, the store’s tiled floors and walls are in an intricately alternating pattern of light and dark jade green, some with rough edges and small imperfections calling to mind the eternally unfinished German capital.
The overall design draws on influences as diverse as German painter Gerhard Richter, old-fashioned tiled coal- and wood-burning stoves and the city’s stark industrial architecture, explained Weiss-heiten’s Alberto Franco Flores.
“Aesop is always reflecting very locally, trying to get the substance of something,” he said. “We wanted to show the layers of the city.” The clean lines also show off exacting rows of Aesop’s tastefully packaged and fragrant natural products.
— Susan Stone
48 Alte Schönhauser Strasse (Mitte)
Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Lena Hoschek’s retro stylings have gone west. The Austrian designer’s new showroom and store in an ornate historic building in Berlin’s Westend neighborhood offers vintage charm and personal service away from the madding Mitte crowd, as well as more room for running the brand’s new online shop.
During the week, visits are by appointment only; on weekends, everyone is welcome to browse Hoschek’s curve-centric Forties and Fifties-influenced fashions, beloved of modern-day pinup girls.
Bedecked with antique fixtures and furnishings, the cozy sitting room boasts velvety armchairs, framed photos and swagged curtains for a touch of granny chic, while parquet floors and chandeliers in the salon set off Hoschek’s designs, including the latest richly kitsch collection, Russian Rose.
18 Kastanienallee (Westend)
Hours: Monday to Thursday by appointment; Friday, noon to 7 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.
THE OPTIMISTIC STORE
The Optimistic Store has more than just good intentions. The Berlin fashion and design boutique, which recently relocated from Brunnenstrasse to Rochstrasse, presents young labels from the international scene as well as limited art prints, select housewares and paper goods.
“I come from Paris, and was fed up always seeing the same supposedly cool French label pop up everywhere in Berlin,” said shop owner Nathalie Verchere. “We are taking the risk to present labels unknown in Berlin, often exclusively.”
Verchere’s French picks include Tigersushi Furs, a line of unisex knitwear and T-shirts from record label Tigersushi; apparel designed by blogger Margaux Lonnberg, and olive oil-based soaps from Marius Fabre.
Other cheerful choices include Berlin’s Zookie accessories and Beadleg clothing, and Frends headphones from California.
17 Rochstrasse (Mitte)
Monday to Saturday, noon to 8 p.m.
LE MONDE NALLIK
Raw precious and semiprecious stones and earthy brushed brass are the fundaments of Jean Balke’s jewelry line Nallik, named after an untranslatable Inuit word roughly meaning nurturing and protection.
Her chunky talismanic pieces have starred in numerous fashion shoots, as well as on-counter in global boutiques and also Anthropologie. In her small Mitte shop, Balke has surrounded her designs with favorite discoveries unearthed through her travels. The regional artisanal picks include organic soap from Brooklyn, handmade Italian porcelain, jewelry from London’s Jenny Sweetnam and scarves from Botswana-born, Paris-based Bonana van Mil.
The shop also hosts photography and prints for appreciation and purchase, as well as Balke’s atelier. Depending on the stones used, Nallik jewelry retails for about $177 to $329.
187 Brunnenstrasse (Mitte)
Tuesday to Saturday, noon to 7 p.m.
“I’m in love with cities I’ve never been to,” declares the front window of the small Townes boutique.
This carefully curated vintage designer shop takes shoppers around the world via its global labels, but its reasonable prices leave them with enough spare change to save up for an international plane ticket.
Shoko Kawaida, an urban nomad originally from Tokyo, has populated her store with shoes and accessories for men and women, rarely seen pieces from Comme des Garçons, Raf Simons, Helmut Lang, Pendleton and Céline, artfully but simply displayed.
56 Linienstrasse (Mitte)
Monday to Saturday, noon to 8 p.m.