Berlin. The powerhouse within the European Union, the driving force of the continent’s economy. Visitors to this dynamic capital could be forgiven for assuming that the city’s retail landscape is dominated by the big in-your-face brands.
But this vibrant, thriving city also sings with an independent spirit – brimming with unconventional delights, enthusiastically celebrating individual audacity and placing an intricate focus on service. While there is plenty on offer for those seeking the big and the bold, those seeking to explore a new path will find a world of much smaller delights at their fingertips.
MUHLE, Rosenthaler Straße 40/41, Berlin
MUHLE is a beacon of tradition in a world of technology. This smart, modern barbershop offers an array of grooming services and products, all with the highest level of personal service and luxury.
Here, the chore of shaving is transformed into an indulgent experience, a celebration of modern masculine wellbeing. Light, welcoming and unhurried in store, shoppers can easily browse, and everything is wrapped up in an air of simplicity. The store makes clever connections with customers, using traditional masculine words, and old-school chair, with the barber expertly dispensing the signature ‘cut throat’ razor shave. Muhle is the equivalent of a day spa for men – the conversation may be a little different but the experience equally as indulgent.
Do You Read Me? Auguststraße 28, Berlin
This independent bookstore makes no pretension to compete with national chains or online behemoths. Instead, it delights in being a simple haven for those with a love for specialist books in travel, art, design, architecture and food. This tiny store is highly curated, and shoppers can rest assured that all titles have been carefully selected.
Its unassuming interior has a jumbled appearance, striking a youthful vibe. The sole intent here is to display the books to best effect. It’s also clear that store staff know their stuff and then some, interacting happily with shoppers, discussing authors, works and everyday life.
Those who don’t find the title they were looking for will leave instead with something else that sparks their interest, be that a uniquely designed jacket or a coffee table classic.
Monokel, Rosenthaler Str. 5, Berlin
This bespoke men’s tailor offers traditional, one-to-one service, with its proposition focused on the design and making up of made-to-measure men’s apparel and ready-to-buy formal accessories.
As a compact retail space, and with a tailor’s workroom within, optimising the limited area for product displays is key. The store layout aims to inspire but equally let shoppers make their own decision. Customers are encouraged to take their first and final fitting in store as part of the overall experience, which also acts as a ‘show’ to other shoppers.
Room Capacity, Linienstraße 150, Berlin
My first thoughts are that Room Capacity resembles an upmarket antique store, grouping products together because they are from the same seller or share a similar period. But on second glance, it’s clear that Room Capacity is cleverer than this, more exclusive in concept and very sophisticated and elevated in execution.
Its considered display includes a carefully chosen retro and vintage product range. Lighting and theatrical placement is deployed to great effect, given the limited space, and seemingly effortless product presentation techniques are to be applauded.
Room Capacity is a masterclass in the power of compelling story telling – collections are presented with expert placement and exceptionally high standards. But the store keeps its own mystique – no blaze of loud self-promotion here, simply a discreet introduction, enticing curious customers inside.