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Closed by 14oz, Berlin

Despite its name, this edgy casualwear retailer is very much open for business in the German capital, thanks to its relationship with local denim act 14oz.

If you were looking for a brand name for a chain of shops, Closed probably wouldn’t top your list. Yet this Hamburg-based retailer has been up and running in Germany for a number of years, and thanks to its managing directors Gordon Giers, Til Nadler and Hans Redlefsen’s friendship with the influential Karl-Heinz Müller, owner of streetwear trade show Bread & Butter and Berlin denim indie 14oz, who helped them find an appropriate location and assisted with the store design, the company has just opened its first store in the German capital, in the heart of modish Mitte.

It is actually located a couple of hundred metres away from 14oz, and like that store and almost every other operator on Neue or Alte Schönhauser Strasse, it is heavily influenced by denim culture and its characteristic beat-up rough-luxe aesthetic.

It is, however, different from many of the other retailers insofar as it’s less of a brand and a good deal more of a retailer. But like them there’s something of the cultish feel about what’s on offer, and the sort of people wandering through its doors are likely to be affluent, style-conscious types with sufficient cash not to have to worry too much about where their next euro is coming from.

This is a refuge for the middle-aged hipster, and everything about it, from the stock to the store, smacks of consideration and a shared understanding of what constitutes taste. 

Key looks and merchandise mix

This is low key but upscale style where denim, wool and cotton form the central fabrics. With the exception of footwear, where brands Superga and Block are on show, almost the whole of the collection, for men and women, is Closed’s own brand – immediately making this something of a one-off in Berlin.

The look, however, is fairly easily defined and the words unstructured, relaxed and alternative all spring to mind when describing it.

The store has a roughly 50/50 split between the sexes and the one thing that unites the genders is the price of a pair of cotton twill, five-pocket Western-style jeans. These are either plain or bright (well, fairly bright – a muted red pair forms part of one of the displays) and are priced at €169 (£148), rising to €199 (£174) for a washed denim style in a couple of leg shapes.

This sounds aspirational, but it’s far cheaper than most of what fills the shelves in 14oz, although in that store it’s all about brand selection rather than a mono-brand proposition.

Beyond the jeans and jean stylings, Closed is a store where the concentration is on washed or treated fabrics, whether it’s cotton, with a button-through placket, long-sleeved T-top coming in at €79 (£69) for instance, or organic-looking dyed wool, for some of the higher-priced pieces. Translated, this means a men’s duffle coat is available for €399 (£350) and wide, deep V-neck jumpers for women, in a variety of wool mixes and qualities, range from just over €150 (£131) up to around €250 (£219) for some of the heavier weights. If money really is no object, then perhaps the grey fine suede, fur-trimmed parka-meets-afghan may be for you at €1,499 (£1,314).

Colours are generally muted and the new season consists principally of grey, cream, brown, denim blue, ochre and raspberry, which is an appealing mix.

Score 8/10

Visual merchandising

Repurposed furniture is used in 14oz and the same is true of Closed, where everything from glass-fronted wardrobes, with the wood artfully vintage, to Jugendstil (Arts and Crafts to you and me) chairs are used to display the merchandise and create the appropriate ambience.

There are mannequins – not many of them – in the occasional niche or corner, and each of these is dressed and accessorised in what might be termed rough luxe chic where a formal blouse is paired with denim or, for men, a raffish sports jacket and kerchief adorn a generally beaten up assemblage.

The glass-line, consisting of a number of windows, is filled with a row of faceless grey mannequins. Some of these are arranged to look into the shop, while others stare at the outside world. Again, although they are arranged in a line, it does not feel regimented and adds to the sense of relaxation that fills this interior.

Score 8/10

Service

On the day of visiting, the store had just finished holding a Sale and a deft remerchandising was underway, so although the mid-shop tables were being emptied, others were being filled, which avoided creating the impression that a major move was taking place.

The staff were pleasant, bilingual (isn’t everybody in Germany?) and knew their stock. The casual friendliness that pervades much of what central Berlin is about was amply reflected in this shop.

Score 8/10

Store appeal

Like 14oz, Closed’s appearance is in large measure the result of work by local architects S1, and large quantities of smoothed concrete and semi-treated wood are used throughout the store.

Perhaps the cash desk does much to set the overall tone, being composed of polished concrete with tills dropped into plain wood surrounds. Much the same can be said of the fitting rooms. These are a little cell-like with raw concrete walls and a single wooden bench (of the kind that might have been found on the Berlin U-Bahn at one point), but for those who favour an industrial feel then Closed will make them feel right at home. 

It’s also worth mentioning the overall sense of repurposing, which is typical of much of what’s to be found in this part of Berlin.

Score 8/10

Would I buy?

Yes. This may be expensive, although a lot of this has to do with the implausibly low exchange rate we Brits suffer when heading for euro-land, but there was much in this shop that was both stylish and which would also represent investment shopping.

Couple this with the pleasant, but not in-your-face service and a store interior where nothing seems to have been left to chance, and there’s every reason to take a deep breath and reach for the credit card.

Score 8/10

Verdict

Just when it seemed that this part of Berlin Mitte couldn’t house another denim-based casual collection, Closed arrives and proves there’s always something different that can be done. This is a welcome addition to Berlin’s fashion counter-culture and one that is likely to see the well-informed beating a path to its door. 

40/50

Essentials

Location 32 Alte Schönhauser Strasse, Berlin

Size 1,830 sq ft

Number of floors One

Store design S1

Store portfolio Closed trades from standalone stores in the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, France and Germany

Head office Hamburg

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