Berlin might not be one of the iconic four cities that fashion month revolves around—New York, London, Milan, and Paris—but that's one of the reasons the outlier city has developed a retail scene that's so singular. Like its clubs, the world's techno capital offers a shopping experience you can't find anywhere else. Immaculately-preserved vinyl rarities? Check. High-end fetish gear? Check. Small-batch printed books? Check. Not to mention Berlin's boutiques, which also offer a glimpse of up-and-coming designers. If you're headed to the city, keep this list handy.
If you're looking for a shopping experience with the emphasis on experience, Happy Shop should be your first destination. Situated in the grey, bustling area of Mitte, you can tell the store is like no other just from its whimsical striped facade, peekaboo window, and hot pink doors advertising some of their designers—Simone Rocha, Toga, Tsumori Chisato, Meadham Kirchhoff—and requesting that you knock on the door for access. Inside, clothing is displayed just as artistically: racks are hung high-up near the ceiling, nail polish bottles are strung like decoration, and there are no rules when it comes to mixing prints and colors—a stark contrast to the way you'll find most Berliners dressed on the streets, in their all-black garb.
While the term "concept store" is more often than not interchangeable with a boutique that dabbles in art books and objects, Voo really tests the limits of what a retail space can offer. Aside from the fact that the store has live-in feel—it's in a backyard on Oranienstrasse—Voo regularly holds performances, exhibits, readings and concerts. There's also plenty to buy: grab coffee and a light bite from their Companion Coffee Showroom to enjoy while you browse pieces by everyone from local designers like Hien Le to Gosha Rubchinskiy, Champion, and Kenzo. Best of all, even if you can't make it to Berlin, or you find yourself there with no extra room in your suitcase, you can shop Voo's offerings online.
The level of care and precision that each LP is labeled and encased with at OYE is not something you'll easily find in the States, if it can be found there at all. While OYE isn't Amoeba-size, what it lacks in square feet, it makes up for in curation. Not only does the Prenzlauer store have a deep collection of locally-produced techno and house, it's also stocked up on second-hand funk, R&B, and disco rarities. What makes the record store even better is that they have ample turntables and headphones so you can preview any release before you buy it.
If your pockets are deep, The Corner is well worth splurging at. The store is definitely on the higher end of shopping experiences, but their merchandise justifies the price with designs by Dries Van Noten, Proenza Schouler, Saint Laurent, Isabel Marant, Valentino, Céline, Christopher Kane, Christian Dior, MSGM—the list goes on. Their sneaker selection is on-point too, with pairs by Raf Simons x Adidas Originals Stan Smith, Balenciaga, Nike Air Max, and Pharrell Williams x Adidas. If you don't get lost in their jewelry and coffee book display cases, you might get held up at their in-store Le Labo, where you can create your own scent.
Take one look around Berghain and you're guaranteed to see at least one person in patent leather. On the other end of the fetish spectrum you'll find DSTM's pieces, which are softer, more wearable interpretations of severe cuts. Designer Jen Gilpin creates sensuous little sculptures that can be worn day or night, depending on how they're styled. Her pieces range from blush-colored silk rompers to black cutout dresses, thigh-high leather stockings, and the occasional choker.
Another Berlin-based brand that does bondage in a sophisticated way is Tres Bonjour, whose ornate pieces have appeared everywhere—from adorning FKA Twigs in WILD Magazine to sexing up spreads in Vogue Germany and Grazia France. Specializing in latex, Tres Bonjour manipulates the rubbery fabric into bras, gravity defying-cut underwear, dresses, handbags, and jewelry. Though her designs are advanced, the concept is latex for beginners.
Books are more like artful objects at Motto, a library-like wood-paneled store tucked away from the populated Skalitzer Straße. The intimate boutique, which also serves as a gallery and events space, offers a wide range of publications: local, underground, limited edition, self-published, fanzines, art magazines, and everything in between. If you can't make it to their brick-and-mortar, you can keep up-to-date with their offerings and shop at their website.
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