Berlin can probably lay claim to being the best place in Europe, if not the world, in which to pick up a pair of jeans.
Address 193/194 Kurfürstendamm, 10707 Berlin
Size 6,458 sq ft
Number of floors One
Opened October 2012
The fashionable Mitte district is full of purveyors of the commodity and there are times when it seems even the most peripheral brand has its own shop, with everything from a Mavi store to one that sells nothing but Japanese denim.
Since 2008, however, the undisputed king of denim retailers has been 14oz, in the middle of the Neue Schönhauser Strasse, where the faithful can select from a vast menu of branded jeans. The opening at the end of 2012 of a second 14oz store, a few miles west of the original and on the exclusive Kurfürstendamm, means this retailer (part of the group that owns trade show Bread & Butter) has come of age as a luxury denim retailer.
01 - VISUAL MERCHANDISING
At the heart of this store is a shelving system, which doesn’t sound promising. However, it has been taken from a 19th-century library in Vienna and with its twisting cast ironwork and internally lit shelves, it grabs the view wherever you happen to be. And this is where the jeans are mostly displayed, neatly folded as in jeans shops of old, but in a placement that sets them apart. For those who can tear themselves away from this panorama, the efforts of the visual merchandising team are clear. Tabled displays, vintage cabinets, tailor’s torsos and stepladders with shoes on them - all show off the product. Nothing is left to chance, but everything looks as if it’s been put together on a whim.
02 - CONCEPT
14oz on the ‘Ku’damm’ is contained within the Haus Cumberland, a grand building dating from the early years of the 20th century. The vaulted ceiling with plaster mouldings, exposed brickwork, dark tiled floors and arched windows make the interior and exterior engaging. A central wall divides the men’s and women’s collections, and the whole enterprise is flooded with natural daylight, thanks to the windows across the store’s front and back.
03 - SERVICE
Friendly, fashionable and well-informed summarises the staff who keep this store looking the way it’s supposed to. This is one of those stores where the staff could actually be shoppers, except that they are generally rather better and more slick-casually turned out than those they are selling to. That said, there is no sense of being patronised. Customers are greeted with a smile and a readiness to help that actually makes you consider buying something, in spite of the aspirational pricing.
04 - PRODUCT
14oz is both a branded house and a house of brands, complete with a brand menu board on the outside of the shop. And what’s on offer is pretty much a roll call of all that’s worth considering in the world of jeans, with offers from the likes of Edwin, Nudie Jeans, Paige and Denham. But if shoppers are worried about price, then it may be time to head elsewhere. There is also a very substantial offer of accessories such as hats, watches and scarves. Just don’t think about the bank balance.
05 - COMPETITION
There was a moment, a couple of years ago, when the premium denim crown looked as if it might pass from 14oz to one of the young pretenders in the Mitte district. The opening of the Haus Cumberland store however has emphasised the retailer’s position as the pre-eminent seller of the category.
There is certainly plenty of competition across the city, but nothing like this in terms of ambience or offer and if shoppers want a luxury denim experience, this one can take all comers. In this part of the city, much of the local competition is formal, branded luxury for a more mature demographic.
06 - VERDICT: THE PROSPECTS ARE GOOD
Whether Berlin needed another upmarket denim retailer is a moot point and if the question had been asked prior to the opening of the second 14oz store, the answer would probably have been no. Now that it exists, however, one wonders why there was nothing of the kind along this part of the Kurfürstendamm before now. This is a store selling denim alongside neighbours that sell branded luxury. All of which means the second 14oz store, far bigger than the original, is a positive addition to Berlin’s denimscape.