When one thinks of Europe’s luxury shopping destinations Hamburg might not be the first to come to mind. Yet in the district of Neustadt you’ll find that Neuer Wall has quietly established itself as an upmarket shopping quarter. Running from Jungfernstieg on Binnenalster (Inner Alster lake) to Stadthausbrücke, it is lined with fashion houses and would rival any of the world’s exclusive shopping areas.
‘The high-end shopping district around Neuer Wall, with its streets spread out over a lattice of canals and bridges, is one of the most elegant in the country,’ noted Nick Foster in the Financial Times. More than one kilometre long, it was refurbished in 2006 and during the past nine years the number of shops has gradually increased. The southern half of the street in particular plays host to high-fashion designer labels alongside interiors and furniture stores, coffee shops and restaurants.
If your attention was caught by the printed and pastel-hued double-zip leather handbags that Miuccia Prada sent models sashaying down the catwalk with for autumn/winter 2015/16, Neuer Wall might be the perfect place to examine them further. Indeed, its selection of international brands, including Michael Kors, Mulberry and Longchamp, makes it ideal for those looking to make an accessories purchase. Louis Vuitton’s super-furry leopard print handbags are perfect for those with more adventurous tastes.
This area of Hamburg is also home to a number of jewellery houses, including esteemed names such as Cartier, Bulgari and Tiffany & Co, as well as luxury horologists Omega and Montblanc. Take time to peruse a selection of elaborate pieces before heading to a café to enjoy a spot of food or a drink and to contemplate such an investment. Café Engelchen is an elegant second-floor coffee house and with its large windows it is ideal for observing the well-dressed clientele of Neuer Wall.
Some of Hamburg’s oldest retailers can also be found on Neuer Wall, including the jeweller Brahmfeld & Gutruf, whose colourful and ornate pieces are studded with gemstones and full of quirky, nature-inspired motifs. The boutique is worth a visit for its distinctive interior alone; in 2014 it was awarded the Deutsche Lichtdesign Preis, the German lighting design award, for its innovative use of 48,000 LEDs which gives the effect of the changing colour of the Hamburg sky.
While districts such as Neuer Wall are largely synonymous with fashion houses of an upmarket, luxury nature, recent years have seen the emergence of a new demographic of high-street labels that meld a boutique shopping experience with cutting-edge trends and a more affordable price structure. Cos and & Other Stories are two examples that have opened on Neuer Wall recently. The former offers modern, pared-down collections built around well-edited colour palettes, while & Other Stories is a fashion and lifestyle space that is fun to browse ‒ its selection of clothing, jewellery, beauty and quirky accessories will keep you entertained for hours.
Yet, what distinguishes Neuer Wall from other designer fashion districts is the plethora of furniture stores that are situated towards Stadthausbrücke. These include the Dutch brand Rivièra Maison, showcasing interiors and soft furnishing collections that take inspiration from some of Europe’s most stylish cities. Neuer Wall is also home to century-old homeware retailer Weitz, which has one of the finest selections of porcelain in Hamburg.
Trend-oriented visitors will find much to love in the Jil Sander store. The label was originally founded in Hamburg by Sander in 1968 but only gained prominence in the 1980s. Sander’s distinctive, regularly copied but never bettered signature style paved the way for 90s minimalism and remains a favourite among savvy dressers with an eye for sharp, understated clothing.
The concept of a high-end international shopping district could conjure images of impersonal spaces, but Neuer Wall’s integration of old-world European elegance with modern luxury in the form of Chanel, Prada and Bottega Veneta gives it great appeal. It’s increasingly defined by an ambience that is popular with visitors from far and wide. ‘Zig-zag among the narrower streets to the south and west, sizing up the luxury shops and well-heeled shoppers around Neuer Wall,’ advised Frank Bruni in The New York Times. Neuer Wall, it appears, is both a place to see and to be seen in.