Düsseldorf’s intriguing mix of Fortune Global 500 companies and fashion fairs draws a diverse crowd of business travellers and fashion enthusiasts. The city’s combination of commerce and style provides the perfect backdrop for a new crop of streetwear brands. Riding the crest of the urban casualwear wave, these fresh labels are carving out a niche and rapidly gaining fans within Düsseldorf and worldwide.
Germany is fast becoming synonymous with streetwear, due to the popularity of sportswear-inspired brands such as Michalsky and the growth of heritage labels, including MCM, adding monograms to high-top sneakers and leather backpacks. Those looking for something more directional – and a little more affordable – are sure to be impressed by DRMTM (pronounced ‘dream team’). The label was founded in 2006 and creates cutting-edge clothing collections for the youthful non-conformist; its pieces are known for their bold slogans.
The brand’s latest collection, High Life, takes its inspiration from the 1990s, an era that strikes a chord with DRMTM’s brand manager Mark Smith. ‘We grew up in the 90s and there was too much greatness in that era to put it into one sentence,’ he says. ‘To make it brief: Wu-Tang Clan, Game Boy, MTV raps, LA Gear, Michael Jordan, Los Angeles, Starter and so on.’ Rap music and urban culture in general has been a great influence on DRMTM’s spring/summer 2015 collection; bucket hats and dark denim feature understated diamonds and dollar signs while sweaters and baseball caps are emblazoned with Bel Air as a tribute to Will Smith’s classic television show, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
DRMTM is happy to commend its contemporaries. ‘We are friends with many of the guys from German and Austrian streetwear brands like Wemoto and Beastin,’ Smith explains. ‘Inspiration for our collections comes from different sources, though.’ As well as 1990s American pop culture, DRMTM owes much of its success to its hometown. ‘Düsseldorf is a great city,’ Smith explains. ‘It’s neither too big nor too small, which means that you pretty much know all the relevant people from all kinds of businesses – that’s what makes Düsseldorf a great place for networking.’
Despite the growing popularity of streetwear in Düsseldorf, for Smith it could have come much sooner. ‘Düsseldorf has always been a fashionable city so it just makes sense. I think the question is rather “Why so late?”’ DRMTM, which is stocked at Snipes stores, is now going from strength to strength and Smith is considering a womenswear range. ‘With all the corporates around it’s a really tough environment but we are definitely thinking about launching a womens’ line,’ he says.
Specialist streetwear and sneaker store Souq recently celebrated its second anniversary. The store originally opened as a temporary pop-up, but co-founders Jojo Koomson and Maryam Hajji felt Düsseldorf needed a dedicated streetwear store. ‘The thing is, all the major cities look alike,’ says Koomson. ‘If you go to London, Hamburg or Stockholm you will always find the same shops. I think people are fed up with chain stores. People want to be more individual and less alike.’
Keeping ahead of the crowd
Souq’s covetable collection of trainers from labels such as Nike SB, Vans and New Balance, not to mention clothing by Obey, Huf and Carhartt, is sure to help visitors stand out from the crowd. The boutique’s owners take time to source the finest urban footwear and clothing for their local and international clientele. ‘We source our products on-line, through blogs, magazines and music videos and we get a lot of feedback, which is really import,’ Koomson explains. ‘Because Düsseldorf is such a fashionable city and a lot of tourists visit every year we have a really big community overseas.’
Souq’s online presence is impressively vast for such a specialist store and the shop has thousands of followers on Instagram and Facebook, all keeping up with the latest launches. But to experience Souq properly, you have to pay a visit to the store itself. ‘We’ve heard from our customers that the vibe in our store makes Souq unique,’ says Koomson. ‘What is really important to us is to be honest to our customers. I know all shops say that, but we live that. Come to our store and find out for yourself.’