Retailer of the Week
25 Jul. 2012
HANS WEBER,STORE MANAGER OF F95, BERLIN, GERMANYIn October 2011 Berlin’s beautiful F95 store moved to the Station at Luckenwalder Strasse 4-6, close to Premium’s fairgrounds. It’s time to take a look at the changes and ask new store manager Hans Weber about his bestsellers, customers and key pieces for spring/summer 2013. Interview by Lena Elster
Why did you open your store? Tell us the story behind F95!
You could say F95 The Fashion Store is the child of the international fashion trade show Premium. The way we developed the idea, the vision and the range all evolved naturally. The expertise of the Premium team, the research they do every season and the selection of international labels in the high-end segment all speak to the continuation of the store concept. It all started with a pop-up store, which was followed in 2005 by the opening of the first F95 The Fashion Store on Frankfurter Alle, which is where the store got its name. In 2011, the store re-opened close to its roots at the STATION-Berlin premises where the Premium show takes place twice a year.
F95 also has the show to thank for its innovative shop concept, which breaks away from "conventional" store layouts and instead goes for unusual brand combinations. At F95 established labels are presented next to avant-garde designers, accessories, music and magazines mix with denims and progressive sportswear, and cosmetics and fragrances live alongside extravagant jewelry design.
What are the current bestselling denim segments in your store? What brands are your personal favorites?
This summer J Brand and Current//Elliott were bestsellers because of their fresh and fun colors and prints. My highlights include established designers like Diane von Fürstenberg, T by Alexander Wang, Givenchy and By Malene Birger as well as creative newcomers like Iro, Thu Thu and Firma. As far as shoes are concerned, Selve products – in terms of idea, quality and comfort –are pretty superb. We can even create a "made to measure" shoe for our customers with an incredible selection of leathers, materials, colors, heel heights and shapes, as well as in-between sizes and widths. Pure individuality and exclusive to Berlin!
In terms of denims: Which cuts / shapes / washes / colors are most popular at the moment?
The classic drainpipe cut remains a classic and is still incredibly popular as it suits every woman and can be adapted for any occasion. In summer it's all about the classic crop length, which pairs well with neon colors and special washing techniques like tie-dye and animal prints. The popular rise is now a bit a little higher than in the first decade of the noughties.
Do customers search for favorite brands and special styles or do they buy spontaneously?
Customers at F95 are very conscious about design and place a lot of value on quality. Major brand names and labels tend to be secondary. Purchases are based on an item’s fit, comfort and feel. A name or a logo won't get our customers to buy something.
Since we sell certain products and brands exclusively here in Berlin, many customers come with the intention of buying specific items. During Fashion Week, for example, we are among the first to introduce the cooperation between Mongrels in Common and Selve and are offering an exclusive pre-sale..
Where do you order your products?
At Premium, a must for all high-end fashion stores. The carefully selected brands, the atmosphere and the quality of exhibitors make my job as a purchaser a lot easier and also leave me plenty of time and space for new inspiration. In Germany, I also visit shows in Düsseldorf and Munich. On my shopping tours in New York, Milan and Paris I also ensure that the collections at F95 reflect our international style.
What inspires you, where do you get your information about upcoming trends?
Because I'm in close contact to the Premium team, a lot of trends reach me first. I'm also in close touch with agencies, showrooms and PR offices that keep me posted on news and trends. I get my daily inspiration from international blogs and from the looks I see on the street. Berlin is unique when it comes to street style.
Are there any new brands you are ordering for the first time?
New labels include Iro for men. I'm especially looking forward to their range because the women's collection went down extremely well. We’ve also added porcelain by Mud Australia and as I mentioned, Selve. We’re expanding our international offer with LGB, Erro, Terra New York and Monserat de Lucca. Jeans by Big ´E` are also new and in Berlin are only available at F95.
What do you think will be key pieces and trends in 2013?
I see A-line skirts coming into fashion in spring/summer 2013. The simple, straight cut perfectly emphasizes the season's exciting prints and is a great contrast to the summer's more feminine colors and tones.
How do you stay in contact with your customers?
At F95 we offer the ultimate shopping experience, with exclusive events like book and magazine launches, sneak previews, limited edition showcases and get-togethers with designers and industry insiders. We regularly invite our customers to these events and let our customers get really close to the action at Fashion Week, even though the Premium show and the shows at the Mercedes-Benz tent are only accessible to a trade audience.
This season's specials include a shopping special and cocktail reception by Wildfox, a showcase by Blaken Watches and a shop window exclusively designed by Orciani and Current//Elliott. We also use classic communication channels like newsletters to send regular updates to our customers with information on our newest arrivals.
Do you have an online shop? Do you run any social media activities?
We currently offer a selection of items in cooperation with Fashion Hub online. However, we are aiming to launch our own online store as soon as possible where we want to reflect our passion for products, service and quality – a challenge we are eager to take on.
Nowadays communication via Facebook is a must. We use it to keep our customers up-to-date on our newest labels and events and to post pictures, outfits and news. Direct contact to our customers is important and Facebook makes that a lot easier.
What do you like about your location and customers?
To me, the venue here at Gleisdreieck resembles the Meatpacking District in New York. It's a little rough, modern and not far from Potsdamer Platz and the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin's historical center. The STATION-Berlin premises give us the opportunity to create a special atmosphere for our customers. The large courtyard is nice for a short break in the sun where customers can relax and think over their impressions and possible outfits, accessories or gift ideas. Furthermore, the store reaches over 400 square meters and there are parking spaces right in front of the door.
The architecture and the interior design are just as inspiring as the collections. The former postal service counter hall is easily recognizable and has now been pepped up with modern statues and restored furniture, but my favorite detail is the telephone booths we use as changing rooms.
What I particularly like about our customers is that they are prepared to take their time to discover something special. They let us give them advice and are courageous enough to try new things. Our range is as diverse as our customers. That makes my job exciting.
Are there any differences to similar stores in cities like Berlin, London or New York?
F95 is unique. It's the combination that makes us so: Berlin's flair, the unusual location, the design concept by interior designer Heiner Albaum, the possibilities and expertise through our cooperation with Premium, the inimitable range, the services we offer – like appointments outside store opening times – and the passion of the F95 team.
Is there a role model for your shop? Any store worldwide that inspires you?
I wouldn't quite say there is a role model. Of course I feel inspired when I travel and I analyze which concepts work well in other stores, which new services are out there and how customers behave. To me, a fantastic example of a successful store – both online and in the flesh – is Luisa via Roma. Even customers who have never been to Florence know the store and have an idea of what Luisa via Roma stands for. That is quite impressive.
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