Retailer of the Week
19 Feb. 2014
Jip Sontoung, owner, Purple Pink, Hamburg, Germany
Jip Sontoung started his boutique Purple Pink in 2001 - and the small-sized location in Hamburg's cosy Weidenallee near the popular Schanzenviertel has been a hot spot for upmarket fashion and streetwear ever since. Sontoung himself regards his store as a small planet. Here, the shop owner explains how he "cooks" the retail recipe, why the small details of a garment are important and what he understands as "Neue Funktionalität". Interview by Maria Hunstig
Why did you open your store? Tell us the story behind it!
Purple Pink is a small planet, my contribution to the big universe. When I started in 2002 it was all about things I loved and it still is today. People come to the store, we may talk about new looks and designers, they love the new pieces – everyone is happy.
A view into the small-sized store
Which is the most important ingredient for successful retailing?
What is the most important spice in a tasty meal? It is more than just one ingredient. It certainly helps if you know how to cook. The complete recipe remains a secret.
What are your current bestselling brands and styles? What is your personal favorite brand?
Some of our favourite brands are Stine Goya, Minimarket, Wood Wood, Baum & Pferdgarten, and HOPE. High quality shoes and accessories are very important to me. Goodyear welted boots, vegetable tanned leather, we work very well with these qualities from 'the last conspiracy' and Japanese heavy canvas bags from 'Baggy Port'. Personally I like Hope and Wood Wood very much.
In terms of denim: which shapes / washings / colors are most popular right now?
Skinny, mid-waist, black, dark grey – it's very clean. Oversized cuts for summer for the savvy.
What new brands have you introduced to your assortment lately?
Avvikk – insanely good-looking footwear. High quality shoes with the look and feel of a sneaker. Can hardly wait to get the new collection and to get a pair on my own feet.
Do customers look for special brands and pieces or do they buy spontaneously?
We have worked with some designers, such as Stine Goya or Minimarket, for many years, so customers do come specifically for these brands. Mostly we do sell complete looks though, mixing various labels and designers, to define a customer’s personal style.
Shop window at Purple Pink
Where do you purchase your merchandise? Trade shows / showrooms?
Copenhagen, Berlin, Paris. We prefer showroom meetings, but we do go to some shows and fairs for inspiration or to meet a designer. Simple details are important, like the quality of elastic cuffs on a jacket, the final darts and tucks on a dress, and we have more freedom to check all of this in a showroom. Some production teams insist we are the first ones to see a new collection because they appreciate our feedback.
Where do you inform yourself about trends?
City streets around the world, in music, in a great place for food, a movie, in a club. It's everywhere. We just notice and filter and do our thing.
Which trends can we expect for spring/summer 14?
For S/S 2014 we call it 'Neue Funktionalität' ("New Functionality") and 'Feminimalism'. We want to look good all day for different occasions but usually can't change our clothes four times a day. Key are dresses you can move in, tech fibres that are comfortable and easy to take care of. Skirts that swing with a short jacket. Jerseys, flowing materials and cool prints add some femininity.
What does your shop have that others don’t?
Every good store is individual, I think. We introduced quite a few new designers to Hamburg and some we still carry exclusively. We have a solid base of returning customers. We know how they like to shop, their style and sometimes their favourite outfits. Personally it makes me very happy when I can suggest great new pieces of clothing that perfectly complement a customers existing wardrobe.
Accessories are important, too
What do you like about your location / city / the local customers?
Hamburg is great. We have so many international visitors. I like just about everything about our location. The street we are in has many cosy cafés and great places for food, so we get a really nice mix of people here.
Do you have an online shop? Are you making use of social media?
Yes, we use social media for communication and do get inquiries and orders through these channels. We haven't looked deeply into mail-order or online-shopping yet – it’s a whole different business.
Is there a role model for Purple Pink? Any shop (worldwide) that inspires you?
purple pink is not modelled on any other shop, it has just developed the way it is. There is a bit of Amsterdam in it, a bit of Bangkok, quite some Copenhagen and a lot of Hamburg for sure. These are the cities that formed me. I would never imitate the style or selection of another store, I don't believe in that.
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