Berlin’s manifold independent boutiques and shopping hotspots have cemented the city as a mecca for design enthusiasts and fashion-forward fanatics. Indeed, the city’s effortlessly cool style and bold uniqueness unsurprisingly lends itself well to picking up one-of-a-kind, individual pieces. We’ve scoured the city to uncover the top independent boutiques, from concept to design, and interview them to learn more about the boutique scene in Berlin.
Les Soeurs Shop
Les Soeurs Shop is the Charlottenburg-based independent boutique that’s serious about body positivity. Started by Julia Chevalley and Jasmin Moallim in 2016, the boutique is, “Germany’s – maybe even Europe’s – first curvy concept store and our motto is: style has no size,” Chevalley explains. The store offers a curated selection of the best plus-size fashion from international brands and designers, along with beauty products and accessories to create a head-to-toe look. Working as a platform for their curvy sisters, Les Soeurs Shop advocates body positivity, offers brands that are “not available elsewhere in Berlin or even Germany,” and a message of empowerment for all women.
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Tell us about your concept and inspiration
Chevalley: “Our mission: perfectly-styled curves and a great shopping experience catering to the needs of curvy fashionistas. Apart from a hard-to-find selection of gorgeous plus-size clothing, we want to provide a platform where like-minded people can meet and exchange. We like to think of our customers as a community and our shop as a gathering place. This is why we regularly host events like body-positive evenings with body-positivity bloggers and activists, fashion brunches or our legendary curvy vintage market. We challenge the idea that plus-size shops have huge, red XXL signage on their windows, making people feel uncomfortable walking in there. We want to show that yes, plus-size fashion and shops can actually look great, attract cool people and be as fashion-forward as any other concept store. We believe shopping should be about fun and self-indulgence, especially because, for our customers, this reality has so far mostly been about frustration and shame.”
What’s your take on independent boutiques in Berlin?
Chevalley: “Berlin has always had a lively scene of independent boutiques and there have been many great concepts that came and went. For us, it feels like the amount and also quality has been growing over the last years, which is a positive development in a time where retail chains and massive online retailers seem to rule the world of fashion retail. To survive and compete, boutique owners have focused on very special audiences, whose wishes and needs they understand and cater to perfectly. This is also why there are so many different concepts and interesting approaches.”
What does it bring to the fashion scene in Berlin?
Chevalley: “I think the diversity of boutiques perfectly reflects the diversity of communities, lifestyles and subcultures that Berlin has to offer. However, they also reflect its overall casual approach towards fashion and outstanding design quality.”
Biscuit China presents a wonderfully-curated selection of craftwork made of ceramic and glass in Prenzlauer Berg. Opened by Karoline Borsch in 2017, her impeccable taste can be felt throughout the store, reflecting her experience. “Before I opened my shop, I worked in the creative industry as an art director for the last 10 years,” says Borsch. A place for special objects that enrich everyday life, Borsch wanted, “to creates a place where friends and fans of the beautiful things can get together.”
Tell us about the concept and products in your store
Borsch: “Biscuit China represents a unique and exclusive variety of extraordinary artists ranging from ‘old masters’ and the ‘wild young ones,’ through to the ‘avant-gardists’. By collaborating with small workshops and manufacturers, we sustainably promote the individual and independent artisan craftwork, giving it new attention and relevance. Biscuit China does not offer off-the-rack products, but rather tries to broaden horizons around glass and ceramics. In doing so, we renew the image of artisan craftwork.”
What’s your take on independent boutiques in Berlin?
Borsch: “In Berlin you find a lot of small independent boutiques, they are located in the whole city. Depending on the area, you’ll find different kinds of boutiques. What I really like about the small boutiques in Berlin is that you see and feel that the owners are really into their concepts and really take care of their clients.”
Why is the Boutique scene important in Berlin?
Borsch: “The independent shops reflect the vibe in Berlin very well. Many customers come to Berlin and shop in the small boutiques because they know they get something special here. There are many small designers in Berlin where you can shop directly. Especially for clothing and jewellery, as well as furniture and interior, Berlin is great.”
Moeon is a multi-brand concept store with a strong ethos of sustainability. Opening its doors in 2014, the Kreuzberg-located spot was founded by Sonja Lotz and combines design with ethical fashion. The selection of clothes, shoes and accessories stand for style, but also eco-consciousness as the store, “only sells airly-made apparel that was also made of sustainable materials,” explains Lotz.
Tell us about your sustainability concept
Lotz: “Moeon is a platform for trend-conscious fashion that is produced fairly and is also ecologically responsible. Everything we sell needs to be fairly made and under fair production. The materials are sustainable, leather is vegetable-tanned, cotton is organic, and we use the sustainable material Tencel a lot. Our other focus lies on style. The selection of clothes, shoes and accessories from international labels and designers shows that sustainable fashion can also stand for aesthetics and style.”
Tell us about the types of products and clothing you sell
Lotz: “Each product in the Moeon range differs from the others, not only in the material mix but also in the manufacturing process. Every piece of clothing has its own story and wanders through many hands before it finally lands at Moeon store. In turn, we respect and promote the people who have helped these pieces come into our store.”
dbeads is a specialised boutique store offering workshops and amazing creations and jewellery made from glass. Opened in 2003 by glass bead-maker and jewellery designer Dagmar Brückner, this 15-year-old store had roots in New York. “I started dbeads after moving back to Berlin from Brooklyn, NY, where I lived for a couple of years and learned glass bead making,” Brückner explains. Knowing she wanted to keep her newly-ignited passion for glass alive, Brückner opened a small-scale boutique and studio. Today this has evolved into the larger, fully-realised concept store and workshop space in Schöneberg.
Tell us about your concept and the type of glassware you sell
Brückner: “My first store was a really tiny place, but large enough to host my hot-glass workshop and some displays to present my jewellery. In 2016 I opened a larger boutique offering not only glass-bead jewellery but all kinds of things made from glass: simple drinking glasses, colourful vases, high-end cut-glass tumblers and so on. I choose products to sell that appeal to me, things I would love to wear and use myself, but with my customers in mind. They are ‘balm for the soul’ and, of course, they’re made from glass.”
What is your take on independent boutiques in Berlin?
Brückner: “Independent boutiques have always played an important role in Berlin’s fashion world. Although this isn’t really the correct term, as it’s about creativity, and a feeling of liberty and freedom to do what you want to do. In German, it’s called ‘lebensgefühl’. Nowadays new fashion ideas are immediately swallowed up by the big players in the fashion industry. So it becomes more difficult for independent boutiques to survive. That’s probably why there are more concept stores where several designers are presented or even work together, thus sharing the costs of the soaring rents for commercial space in Berlin.
Golden!, opened by mother-daughter duo Margret and Gisa Schleef, is a Neukölln local gem offering a fragrant mix of sprouts, houseplants, flowers, and a collection of hand-picked houseware. Nostalgia and modernism find a home in this collaborative, colourful shop, with unique specimens and lovely design objects. It’s a place to be inspired, treat yourself and collect treasures.
Tell us what Golden is and what you sell
Schleef: “We wanted to combine plants and flowers with different, unique items. So we have a big range of very nice plant pots and rare indoor plants – this is the main focus of Golden. We have a lot of vases in a Scandinavian style and a huge collection of vintage vases that span the decades. Nearly everything you need to make your home feel nice and cosy, we offer you here in our little oasis.”
What’s your take on independent boutiques in Berlin?
Schleef: “In times where cities start to look the same, it’s important to grow small businesses that make these cities interesting again; to help discover new things in a different light. I think Berlin would lose charm without independent boutiques like us.”
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