Van Nord Nordic by nature

There are times when you go shopping, when you need something very particular. This is where a big mall and the Blitzkrieg approach works best: get in, get out, avoid too many casualties. However, there are other times, when you have nothing special in mind and it’s as much about the journey as the end result. For the latter, Van Nord is your new best friend.

An airy slate-gray space lures the casual window shopper in off the pavement, where inside, founder Andrea Ennen is there to introduce a diverse range of products. The womenswear is all Nordic-inspired — both understated and high in quality — while the accessories run the gamut from penny loafers and shoulder bags to knitwear and jewelry, not to mention the interior design gear, capable of bringing the most ramshackle of Berlin apartments up to speed.

Positioning itself as something of a lifestyle forum where fashion, design and literature intermingle, you’ll find brands including Hien Le, A.D.Deertz, Uslu Airlines and Samsøe & Samsøe. Nestled neatly between Ku’damm and Savignyplatz, it’s well worth adding this shop to your mental map labelled: City West Retail Therapy.

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.

Don’t Shoot The Messengers Bewitching in black

In a metropolis governed by oversized garb and fashion-androgyny, designer label Don’t Shoot the Messengers is defiantly sleek and feminine—albeit with a hard, dark edge befitting of Berlin. DSTM’s monochrome garments trend toward raven-black (although anomalous gold or gray pieces offer an occasional enlivening element). The line is cut and crafted from DSTM’s signature combination of leather and silk—with the substantial, defining properties of leather lending levity to the seductive, fluid qualities of silk. Canadian ex-pat Jen Gilpin is the captain of this couture operation, and her Mitte district atelier plus showroom provide a handsome backdrop for DSTM’s fetching frocks.

Van Liebling Alles für alle

Post-modern, post-fashion, post-ironic: the trends in contemporary culture are heading to a zero point where everything just becomes some jumble of schizoid references. Yet in the absence of overarching aesthetic standards, certain forms of expression remain constant and effortlessly cool. Enter Van Liebling in Friedrichshain, a purveyor of chic, street-styled wear that’s smart enough to fit into almost any environment in the city. From R.T.CO shades to printed tees, caps and dresses resilient enough for long nights at Berghain, this store’s stock forms the essentials for Friedrichshain, if not Friday night survival.

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