Over the years, we’ve grown to love Köln. And not just because the Rheinauhafen crane buildings remind us of our own logo.
One of the strongest retail cities in Germany, it has long been characterised by a dynamic retail environment, where frequent change is commonplace – there is no shortage of retailers attracted by the city’s youthful and family orientated demographic.
Germany may appear to be on the brink of recession but Köln, the country’s fourth largest city, is hoping to shake off the gloom thanks to a number of new store openings. For the latest in our Explorer series, we visited some of the stores that are cementing Köln’s place on Germany’s shopping map.
Calvin Klein, Schildergasse 55, 50667
It may be set to close its New York flagship on Madison Avenue this spring but for people in Köln the full Calvin Klein retail experience has only just begun. Its new flagship store opened in the city last October. A dedicated boutique located in the main shopping street of Schildergasse, this new build two-story property brings together the entire Calvin Klein apparel, footwear and accessories collections.
Menswear occupies the ground floor while womenswear is located on the first. Specific collections are presented in different areas of the store with minimalist VM presentation, low densities, high standards and great attention to detail. Denim, sportswear, etc., are each given a coloured featured hanger addition to denote collections. The brand’s signature pared back aesthetic is clearly evident throughout the store, which features a minimalist design expression – chalk coloured concrete floor, stainless steel and white fixtures, bright LED lighting and few adornments. The fitting room area has the most dramatic feature with bright, electric cobalt blue floor-to-ceiling length curtains. It’s a bold addition and statement move.
As new and as good as it is; could the concept’s days already be numbered? With a strategy shake up and new creative direction planned (designer Raf Simons left the business in December) it will be interesting to see what lies ahead.
Uniqlo, Hohe Str. 52, 50667
International investors focus almost exclusively on Schildergasse or the larger properties on Hohe Strasse, and Japanese retailer Uniqlo was no exception when it came to the location of its new flagship store. Opened in spring 2018, the store was specifically built for the brand within a new property development in the corner of Hohe Strasse.
Uniqlo continues its expansion in Germany. Set over three floors, its new Köln store is brand’s second largest in the country – one of its biggest European markets, in a city that it is perfectly suited too in terms of youthful and family orientated demographics.
Carrying the brand’s everyday colourful clothing collections and its now familiar bright and fun mainstream shopping experience, it follows other European store openings in London and, more recently, Amsterdam. While the store doesn’t innovate the look and feel or on the shopping experience to be found elsewhere, it does deliver further enhance the brand’s reputation for slavish consistency across its worldwide retail estate.
Farrow & Ball, Pfeilstraße 20, 50672
The brand’s flagship store in the city may not be new but it still delivers exceptional high retail standards. Unlike a typical paint store, here the shopping experience is approached on a more boutique, designer look basis. Like its more recently opened Los Angeles flagship store, it’s yet another good example of the brand’s ability to think outside of the box (or paint pot).
The store has a country house feel with elegant panelling, painted wood and a domestic aesthetic. Window displays present a decorative theming with imagination. Meanwhile, instore different paint types are organised by type, colour and collection in a logical and organised method. The storage and presenting of the paint cans has been turned into an interior design feature in itself, taking up a considerable amount of the available perimeter wall space. Throughout the store, there are several other artistic features designed to promote and engage people in the arts and crafts of decorating. One wall is adorned with an interesting paintbrush study, another by a collection of frames and easels. Technology is also seamlessly integrated within the heritage British brand, with video screens showcasing the latest colours and swatches. As ever, expert and attentive service is a key feature of the brand experience.