The idea of the "concept store" might be a bit tired, but in the case of Ulf Haines, the name indicates that its owner is the concept itself. Trained as a goldsmith, Haines worked for Departmentstore Quartier 206 before opening his gorgeous corner shop, where clothes are mixed in with books, magazines, and chocolate, in August 2005. The shop’s selection is dominated by Japanese designers flanked by the styles of Stephan Schneider, Dirk Schönberger, and Ann Demeulemeester. Haines’ close connection with the fine arts and his affinity for jewelry is felt in the carefully selected treasures from Natalia Brilli, René Talmon L’Armée, Atelier Verstraeten, and Carla Dau. Across the street, Apartment has recently opened an annex to their store. Called Cash, it sells recent vintage and also serves as a consignment store for locals to resell their designer duds.
A few steps away is Fredericke Winkler’s small empire Belleville. The interior features strong black-and-white contrasts underlined by graphics. Every season, merchandise is configured according to a defined color concept and evinces a very personal mixture of streetwear brands and young designers, including Artysm, Best Behavior, Medinastar, Nicole Farhi, and Nur Rock. Belleville is like a small district that’s constantly growing and changing: last summer they launched a clothing line and since last November their Bell magazine has been giving insights into Belleville’s universe.
Two minutes away is Best Shop run by Sumi Ha, Hanno Bäucker, and Atilano González. Within the streetwear community this 90-square-meter shop quickly developed a reputation as one of the key fashion addresses in Europe. The symbiosis of fashion and music is omnipresent and is the result of González’s background as head of WMF Records. Vinyl and CD offerings from indie labels such as Bpitch Control, Kitty-Yo, and K7 complement the designs of Henrik Vibskov, Helle Mardahl, Call of the Wild, and A Bearded Man.
In the village-like atmosphere of Mitte, a storefront away, is the entrance of Berlin’s newest retail gem, Talking Means Trouble, the first store of the eponymous design label. The interior, like the collection, reflects the living and working motto of TMT heads Bianca and Andrea Hartwig: "Sometimes people listen even more when you whisper." Light-filled, tasteful, and elegant, the shop opened its doors in December 2005.
Just a couple of weeks earlier than Talking Means Trouble, Jadwiga Pokryszka and Sandra Furth launched their concept shop Melange. From their longtime experience as stylists, they knew the most difficult things to find are outstanding accessories — so they decided to sell only these special odds and ends, from cufflinks to necklaces, scarves, and earrings. In the immediate vicinity of A.P.C. and Bless, this shop seduces visitors away from the well-worn shopping paths of Berlin.
But even paths as beaten as the main shopping drag Friedrichstrasse conceal hidden pearls. Since 2004, the design collective Little Red Riding Hood has been showing its schemes in the elegant first floor of Departmentstore Quartier 206. Next door to Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, and Etro, LRRH presents its very own interpretation of fashion alongside excursions into contemporary art. Changing exhibitions, installations, and film presentations give the room a miraculous appearance. Owner Daniela Goergens attaches importance to the mixture of well-known designers like A.F. Vandevorst, Hussein Chalayan, or Martin Margiela with new names worth discovering.
The most recent addition to the area’s lineup is The Corner on Französische Strasse near Friedrichstrasse. The store opened up a month ago; by all appearances, it’s the work of someone armed with a budget big enough to run a massive shop in this bankrupted city. At The Corner, one finds all the expensive names that no one had dared to bring to Berlin before: Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney, Costume National Viktor & Rolf, and Balenciaga are some of the brands the store carries.
The bucks may not be in Berlin these days, but the stores with the brands certainly are.
Little Red Riding Hood