Shopping in Düsseldorf is being redefined now that a number of hip concept stores have cropped up in the city. Pushing the boundaries of retail, these cutting-edge shops are creating new environments for customers. They promote a unique, individual take on fashion and design, and ultimately reinvent the retail experience as we’ve come to know it.
Trendy districts now reach beyond Königsallee; areas such as Flingern, Carlstadt and Unterbilk are home to individually owned boutiques which boast an impressive array of luxury, handmade and designer merchandise, from clothing to interiors and jewellery.
These concept stores cater to discerning and progressive consumers who pursue their individual styles. There is more emphasis on a shopper’s identity and personal expression, as well as the fusion of old with new and designer with vintage. In addition, a personal relationship between shopper and shopkeeper is cultivated. There is also a sense that a non-conformist vision is being promoted, which extends beyond wardrobe needs to embrace lifestyle as a whole.
‘New individual labels and styles are pushing their way to the front,’ says Christiane Wink, one half of the team behind jewellery store Privat. ‘Street style in downtown Düsseldorf is starting to embrace an unorthodox combination of designer fashion, improvisation and vintage to create a very individual style.’
Top concept stores in the city include Ela Selected which sells progressive home-grown and international labels such as Henrik Vibskov and The Girl and the Gorilla. Fashion Clinic offers dynamic designs from the likes of Gareth Pugh and Bernard Willhelm.
For those looking for designer wear, Jades24 promotes a rocker ethos courtesy of labels including Balmain, Alaïa and Thomas Wylde, showcased against a backdrop of chinoiserie and skulls. Apropos offers a luxury designer shopping experience complete with an extravagant atmosphere of gilded walls, Baccarat chandeliers and indoor café. At the concept shop Loud, between perusing toys, fragrances, Anna Sui frocks and McQueen accessories customers can even purchase the store’s interiors, including lamps, shelves and the sound system.
At Privat, you’ll find elaborately crafted jewellery and accessories with an artistic bent, all made by hand in the boutique’s workshop and starting at an accessible €50. The shop space conveys the ‘privacy’ that the name suggests, with customers trying on jewellery in the intimacy of a doctor’s chair.
‘We use surprising materials, introduce new shapes and provide top quality so our pieces are eclectic and unique for the customer,’ Wink explains. ‘Our clients treasure our creations because they can wear them in everyday life as well as at parties. It’s all very versatile and wearable.’
It’s this combination of wearability with rarity that customers crave and in which these shops specialise. For those looking to cultivate an ethos that is effortless and individual, these spaces provide more than fleeting trends: according to shop owner Uwe van Afferden they offer timeless designs, enduring craftsmanship and a certain ‘invisible quality’.
Van Afferden’s eponymous shop has fine interiors, men’s clothes and accessories. ‘Uwe van Afferden wants to clothe the man who has not yet abandoned his sense of fashion,’ he explains. ‘Our customers love good material and outstanding workmanship.’ Alongside his name-brand collection, he stocks labels including Levi’s Vintage, Nigel Cabourn, Red Wing and Thorogood.
Not content with only making over your wardrobe, van Afferden offers customers a whole selection of interiors, down to designing and fitting workshop kitchens.
‘All the products we sell have something peculiar about them; they are individual with a whiff of extravagance. They have the same claim: they get more beautiful as you use them,’ explains van Afferden. Expect to find an old Thonet armchair next to a couch made of flour sacks and French Jieldé lamps lighting a bog-oak table.
These stores are appealing because of their unique atmosphere and offerings; the fact that many also combine a work area, art gallery, fashion house and luxury living room in one space is also an attraction.
Van Afferden believes that customers flock to his shop because, ‘after years of uniformity and fast-paced life, we provide our customers with quality products which are honest. Our store is a showroom and artist’s workshop all in one, so we have space to create and show our individual pieces’.
These stores embrace a common philosophy centred on a celebration of individual style. ‘There is a concept behind labels and stores like Privat: sustainability, progressive thinking and working closely with the customers,’ says Wink. ‘And today it’s more about ideas and identity than ever before. Stores or labels without a profile are bound to fail.’
Van Afferden agrees that when shopping, it’s more than just the clothes that make the man (or woman). ‘The special thing about Uwe van Afferden is that we do not ‘just’ dress our customers. We invent a new fitting, living environment for them.’