For Herbert Hofmann, Creative Director and Buyer for Berlin’s Voo Store, the decision to work with an emerging designer often hinges on whether or not they have a realistic outlook on where they fit in at retail.
“I see too often that young designers try to reinvent fashion and simple things like pants and shirts,” he says. “It’s important to work on great cuts and materials and to have basics in the line. Basics are not exciting but [they are] necessary!”
Those exciting accent pieces and basics work together well at Voo Store, a multibrand men's and women's boutique in a former locksmith shop in Kreuzberg. There, minimalist sneakers from Eytys and wardrobe staples from APC sit beside the more daring offerings from Henrik Vibskov and the streetwear-inspired Russian designer Gosha Rubchinsky. While it’s possible to imagine customers with wildly varying tastes all finding something for themselves in the shop’s inventory, the brand roster is chosen based on a very simple principle.
“We buy what we like and what we would spend money on,” says Hofmann. “Thinking about what could be interesting for different tastes and budgets doesn’t work. I believe in good quality and great stories behind the products.”
That philosophy allows Hofmann to take calculated risks with new designers, citing Eytys, Filles a Papa, CMMN SWDN and Harmony Paris as examples of labels he currently supports at Voo who are still in their infancy.
“They follow clear visions and are able to push their product through friendly and non-pushy communication,” he says.
As a testament to their quality and clarity of vision, he notes that fans of each brand help to amplify the brands’ visibility “without marketing budget.” It helps immeasurably that each has had a consistent, fully-formed brand identity from their inception.
“It’s a lot about credibility and how much the designer represents his own design,” Hofmann notes. “There are too many designers who don’t know who their customer will be and that’s of course important. Their lookbook and presentation in general has to reflect how the potential customer wants to look.”
Ultimately, Hofmann believes that retail isn’t as forgiving as it perhaps once was for emerging designers now that the majority of customers have much more access to information about new brands than ever before, a point that further underlines the importance of coming to market as a complete, realized package.
“Retail got more complicated and customers are well informed,” he says. “And that’s challenging and great!”
For more on Voo Store, visit vooberlin.com.