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A world of variety at Berlin’s department stores


Berlin’s historic department stores have held their own in the style stakes as the city has evolved into one of Europe’s most innovative fashion destinations, says Verity Hogan

Verity Hogan,

Berlin has positioned itself as a hotbed of innovative arts, fashion and culture and, in recent years, a host of concept stores, luxury conglomerates and novel pop-up ventures have sprung up in the German capital. However, two luxury department stores, Peek & Cloppenburg and Mientus, have remained stalwarts of the Berlin luxury scene, like two stately grandes dames at a debutantes’ ball. As the city has changed, Peek & Cloppenburg and Mientus have continued to provide the discerning style hunter with the very best in international fashion and have remained the cornerstones of Berlin fashion.

Commitment to luxury
Since 1901, when Johann Theodor Peek and Heinrich Anton Cloppenburg opened their first clothing store in Düsseldorf and rapidly branched into Berlin, Peek & Cloppenburg has adhered to high standards that ensure it stands out. The company’s commitment to luxury, in its products and, more unusually, its store designs, is one of the driving factors behind its impressive longevity. A laser-sharp eye for innovation has also helped keep the brand in the public eye, from pioneering prêt-à-porter fashion in Germany in the early 20th century to introducing rolling videos of catwalk shows on to its shop floors today.

Peerless luxury is at the heart of the Peek & Cloppenburg philosophy. Since the company was launched, its garments have been made from the finest fabrics, using the most efficient production processes to keep costs reasonable. The emphasis placed on quality is reflected in its designer concessions; the range is diverse, from Armani to Zegna. However, P&C does not exist purely for a rarefied elite; recent years have seen the store attract a younger client base. Each of its stores spans generations in its product selection. Its floor plans reflect this variety, typically featuring fashion aimed at younger consumers on the lower floors, with collections becoming more sophisticated as customers ascend through the store. This policy is clearly effective; the company now has 64 stores across Germany, 41 elsewhere in the world, and employs 13,500 people internationally.

Emerging talent
The brand is not resting on its laurels and continues to evolve, using location and design to reinforce its retail edge. The first Peek & Cloppenburg stores were established in the most prestigious locations available as the stores were intended as places to see and be seen. This emphasis on environment continues to the present day; architect Gottfried Böhm redesigned the Berlin store in the 1990s as a monolithic glass and steel structure, a striking block whose walls slant inwards and produce a hypnotic wave effect in the store, creating a perfect arena in which to peruse forward-thinking fashion. Peek & Cloppenburg’s Berlin branch is focused not only on international fashion but also on supporting and showcasing emerging local talent. The store partners Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin to host the Designer for Tomorrow initiative, which invites new names to show their work and compete for a place in the following year’s Fashion Week.

Branching out
Mientus, Berlin’s other high-end department store, which this year celebrates its 75th anniversary, is similarly innovative. Established as a menswear emporium in 1937 by Helga and Michael Mientus, clothing manufacturers who wanted to imbue the city with some sartorial dash after years of hardship, the store has since branched into womenswear. Its offerings are wide-ranging, from the conceptual and niche, such as Japanese brands, to the glossy and international, including Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana.

Special editions
To mark the store’s anniversary and celebrate its prominent place in Berlin’s fashion scene, 21 designers were invited to design one-off pieces. Contributors to the Limited Diamond Collection include Lanvin’s Alber Elbaz and Giorgio Armani. From a dazzling Hugo Boss T-shirt emblazoned with a red diamond print to a sumptuous Dior Homme scarf, the limited-edition pieces pay homage to Mientus’s rich heritage.

From rails of glorious Burberry Prorsum petal-soft gowns in magenta and saffron displayed against the most striking of backdrops to the slick tailoring of Paul Smith, Berlin’s luxurious department stores offer every fashion enthusiast the chance to discover a wonderland.

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