xXx The avant guardians of black

Loath as we are to get into the hornets nest of hipsterdom, there appears to be two factions (among many) at opposing ends of the Berlin style spectrum. In the decidedly multicolour corner, you’ve got the vintage pixies and their joyous hand-me-down garbs. While at the other end, there are the avant guardians of the colour black. From a seemingly dystopian future, their Matrix reboot involves rags atop of rags, so much so, that you can no longer tell where one piece of clothing ends and the other begins.

To cut to the chase: xXx belongs to the latter, post-apocalyptic hipster camp. Though androgyny is positively encouraged in this brave new world, there are nominative menswear and womenswear sections sprinkled throughout this stunning loft space. Created with love by a small crew of Dutch implants, it’s a masterclass in stripped-back interior design, with artworks offsetting the stark black-and-white colour palette.

For lovers of all things black or those searching for some off-the-rack cool, xXx could be your new be-all-and-end-all boutique – granted the word ‘luxury’ doesn’t make you nor your bank manager wince. For the remaining hoi polloi, though well and truly hidden in a courtyard off Skalitzer Straße, the interior itself is still worth your most determined through-the-rabbit-hole efforts.

Voo Store Conceptually yours

While every retail PR dummy in the world has been spewing the ‘concept store’ tag for nearly a decade now, credit where it’s due, Voo Store is a bona fide bricks-and-mortar concept. And what that means for the layman, one unversed in buzzwords and the correct angle to wear a snapback this season? Well…

This former locksmiths has been converted into an expansively cool space where fashion, art and design mingle effortlessly, as if free prosecco were on tap. Rather than just presenting trendy clothes and accessories from both established and leftfield names, the offering is more all-encompassing than that. Displays and furniture double-up as a showcase for contemporary design whereas the products for sale stretch out from the fashion world to include unique trinkets, gift ideas, and coffee table books. The concept store T’s being crossed by the occasional popup exhibition or fashion week schmoozer, naturally.

Through this breadth and ambience, Voo represents a young, creative and style-conscious scene unlike any other store in the city. Or put more succinctly: Hipster HQ. As evidenced further by the miniature third-wave coffee bar lurking in the corner. At Companion Coffee, a delicately whiskered barista will sort you out with a stonkingly fine brew as you soak up the vibes, getting high on the tailpipe of modern Berlin. Just be careful, in this state, not to spill your jet-black drink over that €1000+ concrete doozy of a table from local design wunderkind, Sigurd Larsen.

Echo Bücher When is a bookstore not a bookstore?

Dedicated to Berlin’s favorite post-Wende pastime – the rave – this is not your regular type of book shop. Reverberating between all the lines of these books is the unz unz of electronic music. In English and German, you will find definitive analyses of club culture from Berlin and further afield. And if you want to turn those K-raddled Monday morning musings from Panorama Bar into your breakthrough novel, here might be the place to pitch it, as there’s a range of “techno novels” on the shelves too. But don’t let that put you off.

Spanish owner David Armengou has created a real paradise for the chin-scratching club kids of Berlin. So if you’re interested in the past, present and future of a scene that has come to define this city over the past 20+ years, then it’s more than worth the BVG boot up to Wedding. Rewards are not just book-based either. Records, posters and t-shirts are also for sale, as well as drinks in the espresso-sized Echo Bücher cafe. There is usually a club-themed exhibition of sorts on the white-plastered walls and then come the weekend, as you might imagine, they’re partial to a party or two. Think: Local label showcases and audio-visual performances.

Bass Cadet Records // Down By Retro Vintage to the left, vinyl to the right featured

As far as unearthing those elusive one-off gems whilst out on a shopping prowl, the doggedly-determined usually get the spoils — especially where vintage fashion and vinyl are concerned. Now, thanks to a small Weserstraße store, the days of hunting in Humana for a pair of dead man’s shoes and the raw-fingered crate digging for that limited release 12” are all but over. The French duo in charge of this two-in-one boutique have streamlined the whole process, bringing you the best of both their worlds in one slickly presented combo.

The black wax collection in Bass Cadet Records touches on the major electronic cornerstones of disco, house and techno with new releases, rarities and carefully selected second-hands. Listening stations, a pinewood bench and drinks cabinet provide a relaxed platform for auditive exploration, even if you and your bedroom is about the height of your DJ aspirations. But that’s by no means the limit of their hospitality — they also throw soirees where the beats and music aficionados spill out of the door and onto the pavement.

On the other side of the shop, Down By Retro demolishes any notion that you can’t be both vintage and contemporary. Handpicking the majority of their threads from France and Italy, it’s a one-stop solution to the street styling needs of any modern Berliner. Be sure to check the latest pieces from vintage brands such as The Whitepepper and Harrington that—in this city at least—can only be found here.

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