BERLIN — As it nears its sixth anniversary in Berlin, Commes des Garçons has opted for a new store format and broader brand assortment in the German capital.
The Japanese fashion house unveiled its new retail look on Linienstrasse in Berlin’s hip Hackesches Market area Saturday evening. The location hasn’t changed, nor any extra space added to the narrow, 1,075-square-foot store, which remains Comme des Garçons’ only freestanding door in Germany. Nonetheless, Rei Kawakubo’s new interior design has effectively altered the feel and flow of the shop, the original for-each-his-own Pocket Comme des Garçons and Black Comme des Garçons plus gallery set-up replaced by a loosely linked arrangement of brand sections.
Now on offer: Comme des Garçons Comme des Garçons, Comme des Garçons Shirt, Comme des Garçons Shirt Boys, Black Comme des Garçons, Play Comme des Garçons, Comme des Garçons Parfum, Comme des Garçons Wallets and Gosha Rubchinskiy.
“We wanted to keep the space as it is, with its imperfections,” remarked Christian Weinecke, the store’s manager since Day One. “But with the new design, it feels bigger. You could almost say we grew to the inside. It’s more intense.”
The key change after the renovation: one can now see from back to front of the store, each section “sort of entering the other.” Visitors to the shop are now greeted by three parallel polka-dot arches, housing the Pocket shop, wallets, fragrances and the play line, which leads into the black section, featuring a grid of black racks and boxes for the Black Comme des Garçons selection. The black units gently turn the corner, to be replaced by a white framework for Comme des Garçons Comme des Garçons, Comme des Garçons Shirt and accessories, including the collaboration with Doc Martens. Winding towards the back, youth (or the young at heart) reigns with items from Comme des Garçons Shirt Boys, and Gosha Rubchinskiy on hand.
Indeed, the store’s youth factor is perhaps the most surprising element about the Berlin Comme des Garçons outpost. “Our youngest customer is 12,” Weinecke reported, the early starters a growing trend now for the last three years, he said. Kids from the Portuguese international school down the block often spend their lunch hours in the store, one enthusiast having gone on to intern first in the shop and later in Paris.
“We have many more boys who are conscious not about the label, but the story behind it. They really have knowledge [of the brand], really look at the clothes and want to know more about it. Even customers for Rubchinskiy know everything about the collection, and challenge us with questions,” he said.
“That brand has brought us lots of new customers to our stores,“ added Paris-based CDG sales manager Remo Hallauer. From the start, however, Berlin has always attracted a diverse clientele, both he and Weinecke pointed out, the store’s artistic neighborhood a draw for Germans visiting Berlin, Berliners themselves and international customers.
As for Berlin, Comme des Garçons also has numerous independent retail clients, including Darklands, Andreas Murkudis, The Corner and Harvey’s. “Everyone has their own vision [of Comme des Garçons] and they coexist peacefully,” Hallauer noted, adding the brand has good retail clients in Frankfurt and there’s more and more interest from other cities, like Munich. “Via the Internet and Instagram, people can now see how other people dress in other cities,” he suggested. “We can’t complain. Germany is definitely growing.”