Tel: 49 30 280 42253
More like an art installation that also happens to sell clothes than a conventional retail store, Apartment epitomizes the new haute Berlin fashion happening in the former eastern part of the city. The street entrance is an empty white space with a steel staircase leading down to a barely lit basement, where a black lacquered table displays a few (mainly black) wares while classical music or 70s art-rock fills the air. For those avant enough for €290 ($427) high-top sneakers in red leather from Common Projects, or a black wool coat from Undercover for €1100 ($1622), this is Nirvana. The staff seems culled from the lower tier of anonymous pretty-boy rock bands and their groupies, but the atmosphere is pleasantly no-pressure.
Mondays through Fridays 12 to 8 pm, Saturdays 12 to 6 pm.
89 Frankfurter Alle
Tel: 49 30 420 81445
Since it opened, the Berlinomat, a mini department store in the heart of up-and-coming Friedrichshain, has become the ultimate one-stop-shop for Berlin design. In addition to their own label, "Hotinaf," the owners, Jörg Wichmann and his partner, Theresa Meirer, stock more than 150 Berlin-based designers (Icke Berlin, Presque Fini, Nix, Magaco), with products ranging from clothing and jewelry to furniture. The cavernous, light-filled 3,000-square-foot space is minimalist and white; the eclectic merchandise adds color and atmosphere.
Tel: 49 30 275 96566
Designer Ines Kaag and her partner, Desiree Heiss, have a decidedly avant-garde approach: Each collection is based on a concept, and the results are more art than fashion. Their playfulsometimes surrealline of clothing and accessories experiments with structure and form, often undermining the very function of the item itself. For example, the 1999 limited-edition "hairbrush" was a brush made of just thathair. A more recent collection took segments of cloth from other well-known clothing chains, like H&M and Levi's, and reconstructed them as scarves. Most of the limited-edition items sell out quickly and become collector's items.
40 Französische Strasse
Tel: 49 30 206 70940
The Corner is Berlin's small, high-end department store. The entrance features a book and magazine section stocking what seems like every Assouline title ever published; then come watches and accessories and, finally, the clothes. Women's dresses, skirts, tops, and jackets come from names like Balenciaga, Fendi, and Zac Posen, starting in the high three figures and going way, way up from there. For men, a somewhat more insouciant, rich-kid-in-sneakers attitude prevails, as exemplified by Rick Owen black suede high-tops for €795 ($1,170), balanced out by elegant jackets and shirts by Kilgour and Lanvin. The staff of offbeat-looking beauties is surprisingly helpful.
Mondays through Fridays 10:30 am to 7:30 pm, Saturdays 10 am to 7 pm.
14 Alte Schönhauserstrasse
Tel: 49 30 2404 8682
A dandy's paradise, this ultra-hip shop offers the sharpest suits around. The first half of the 20th century is the main source of inspiration for both men's and women's wear, with winter collections that nod to Weimar Berlin, and summer clothes that pay homage to prewar resortwear. For the former, striking silhouetted overcoats and narrow-lapeled smoking jackets evoke Marlene Dietrich; slim summer suits in wool and linen are reminiscent of bygone photos of Cap Ferrat or Odessa. Prices aren't bargain-basement—most men's suits, including waistcoat, circle around 500 euros ($680), but this is a bargain for couture-level elegance with elegant tailoring and fine fabrics, as well as a break from brand-name, monochromatic minimalism.
Tel: 49 30 88 62 76 01
For what it would cost you to have a couple of prix-fixe meals, you can start a collection of fine-art photography at this gallery. The terrific stable of master and young artists who display here includes Bernd & Hilla Becher (who schooled a new master generation at the Düsseldorf Academy of Art), Jürgen Teller; and "GeoArt" landscape photographer Bernhard Edmaier.
Tel: 49 30 246 27751
Ralf Hensellek and Thomas Mrozek, the two designers behind the Thatchers label, are among Berlin's breakout stars, and their clothes are gaining a following elsewhere in Europe, including Paris. With a design ethos promulgating a sexy but not vulgar look, they aim to please professional women between 25 and 40 with well-constructed, body-hugging, clean-lined suits and dresses. Followers of the Bauhaus-era principle of reducing ornamentation to a minimum, they choose their decorative flourishes carefully.
Tel: 49 30 283 913 37
The handmade shoes crafted at Trippen have passed the test of Berlin's perilous cobblestone streets since 1994. The mission: use ecologically friendly materials to create anatomically friendly designs. The results: whimsical-looking, fun, but totally functional shoes with colorful leather uppers and soles often carved from oak, beech, and poplar. A staggering 200 or so models for men and women sport some form-revealing names: The Scorpion has a leather strap that rises from behind to wrap around the ankle; the Mug has handles on the heels for easy carrying when you want to go barefoot.
Tel: 49 30 2804 0585
Berlin-based Wolfgang Joop designs clothes that are breathlessly expensive but fun, free from convention, and just the thing to wear to the Berlin International Film Festival. The menswear tends toward a surreal version of The Great Gatsby, as in structured madras jackets festooned with collars doubled with satin. Women's looks are part boudoir and part art school: Lace-up corsets are sewn over worsted-wool glen plaid dresses, which are in turn distressed by some kind of tie-dyeing process. It's all produced by the Italian firm Roscini, so buyers can be assured that their fantasy garb has serious old-world craftsmanship underneath. The shop itself continues the theme of wondrous extravagance, with walls of plate glass and enormous slabs of bulbous aluminum that seem to have escaped from a Jeff Koons show.—Ralph Martin