What Went Down At Browns Berlin
Last week Browns descended on Berlin, taking over an abandoned supermarket in Mitte to bring our community the ultimate fusion of fashion, art, music and more. Partnering with Berlin-based communications agency Reference Studios, Browns Berlin saw us revive our roaming Nomad concept, bringing the unique Browns energy to the German capital.
Combining Berlin’s industrial, underground energy and cutting-edge creative scene with Browns’ innovative approach to luxury, we created the ultimate boutique replete with luxurious private shopping suites in which customers could sample a range of new season items and exclusive capsules and collaborations.
Upholding our reputation as leaders in retail innovation, the space also played host to multiple experience rooms and installation spaces to showcase the best of Berlin’s thriving creative culture. Tattoo artist Louis Loveless opened a two-day tattoo studio, inking dozens of visitors with his distinctive designs. Next door, palm reader Truth and/or Consequences provided guests with the opportunity to reflect on the past and gaze into their future, whilst creative studio Selam X focused on the latter via the futuristic filters they created for the event.
In the middle of the space sat artist duo OrtaMiklos’ psychedelic installation sculpture, a kaleidoscopic Lewis Caroll-inspired living room which was activated by a performance from NYC dancer Vinson Fraley Jr. Browns favourite Duran Lantink was also in attendance, offering customers a chance to refashion items from their wardrobe by reworking them with his signature collaging techniques.
Bringing a touch of tradition to proceedings, German cafe Zeit Für Brot were on hand with “Kaffee und Kuchen” - in this case an array of mouthwatering pastry swirls to keep visitors sustained amongst the excitement.
Day One: Thursday 14 November
As the capital of after-hours fun, it seemed only fitting that our Browns Berlin programme continued well past sundown.
The first night saw us enter with a bang, throwing a gigantic launch party that had entrance queues snaking around the building’s exterior. Once inside, guests were treated to cocktails by our sponsors Smirnoff and Tanqueray, loosening up the crowd for the series of performances ahead. Hanging above the stage were three enormous LED screens projecting hypnotic Selam X graphics - mercury inspired shapes which illuminated the dancefloor with a wash of low lighting. Despite the darkness, guests such as Maria Koch, Jan-Michael Quammie, Corey Stokes, Chris Morency, Jian DeLeon, Jack Moss, Osman Ahmed, Dal Chodha, Mario Abad, Isabella Davey, Daisy Woodward, Ashley Simpson and Whitney Wei could be spotted mingling amongst the crowd.
Taking to the stage first was Manchester’s finest export IAMDDB, whose breakout hit Shade had the crowd going wild, with the entire audience singing along to her iconic line “Uber, Uber, everywhere”. Following her much-hyped set, three members of Berlin-based female and non-binary DJ collective No Shade took to the stage. Bringing us a variety of music styles from around the world, British-born Kikelomo, Portugese Sara Fumaca and Swedish DJ Linnea Palmestal filled the dancefloor with their club-ready tunes. It wouldn’t be a proper Berlin party without a touch of techno, so in true underground spirit, NYC’s Juliana Huxtable treated revellers to a set of throbbing techno to round out the night. Sweaty and euphoric, an excited throng streamed out into the chilly Berlin air, eager to see what the next two days had in store.
Day Two: Friday 15 November
Day two saw a return to form, with a busy day of shopping followed by the first of our panel talks, titled “The New Era” with Vogue Germany. Hosted by the magazine’s Fashion Features Director Dennis Bratz, panel guests were Benjamin Alexander Huseby and Serhat Isik, co-founders of German label GmbH, designer Priya Ahluwalia and breakout design star Mariah Esa, whose pieces made entirely from recycled garment labels were also for sale. Discussing issues of waste and sustainability, the panel led to some interesting insights from the guests and an active discussion from the audience during the Q + A. With Huseby and Isik citing the youth as their hope for the future, both they and Priya touched on the importance of not dividing designers into camps of “sustainable” and “non-sustainable”. What these designers are doing is creating luxurious, desirable product with a design-first attitude, with sustainability as simply a natural and logical way for future-facing designers to produce. A progressive viewpoint with a focus on fashion, just the kind of talent Browns seeks to champion.
Following the talk, guests moved over to surround the OrtaMiklos installation, where dancer Vinson Fraley Jr could be found sleeping amongst the sculptures. As the music began, Fraley Jr leapt into action, performing a visceral, vibrant dance routine that saw him using pieces of clothing dotted around the space to express the story of his performance. Peeking out from behind one of the sculptures, Browns’ very own Holli Rogers could be seen filming on her iPhone, just one of the many awestruck audience members captured in Fraley Jr’s thrall.
Day Three: Saturday 16 November
As the third and final day arrived, weekend shoppers descended on the store, keen to make the most of their last chance to shop the Browns Berlin edit before we headed back to our UK home. The evening saw a who’s who of luxury fashion congregate to watch the second panel talk of the series, a conversation on “The New Luxury”, hosted by Highsnobiety’s Editorial Director Jian DeLeon. On the panel were Browns CEO Holli Rogers (looking stylish as ever in a Marine Serre dress), Nigerian designer Kenneth Ize and founder of luxury Parisian leisurewear brand Casablanca, Charaf Tajer.
Recounting stories of their first ever luxury purchases (Kenneth: a Ralph Lauren Polo shirt, Holli: a pair of Gucci horsebit loafers and Charaf: a yellow Lacoste tracksuit), the three explained that the notion of luxury is not about price, but rather accessibility. Holli described how the best stores are like galleries, in that one trusts the curator to provide their clients with the best of the best, whilst Kenenth spoke to the importance of storytelling when communicating his brand’s message to his audience.
Charaf described his vision of fashion as like a party, citing the community he built via the parties he used to organise as creating the energy typified by his brand. With each hand painted silk Casablanca shirt taking over 100 hours to create, Tajer described wanting to dress people as if they were dressing for the “last day of their life,'' one spent partying at a Casablanca party (or a Browns Berlin bash).
Rounding out the panel with another lively Q+A, guests mingled in the space before bidding farewell to one another, and to Browns Berlin.
Auf Wiedersehen Berlin, it’s been a blast.