A concept of new retail experience has emerged as a result of the rising popularity of online shopping, when it became clear that the regular brick-and-mortar shops must now offer something more than just shopping to compete with convenience of e-commerce. One of the current trends in new retail, already put in practice by Apple, Adidas and Off-White, are inhabitable hybrid spaces that offer visitors a shopping experience together with leisure and culture, often combining a store, a gallery, pop-up events and a place with food and drinks. London-based Alex Eagle made a name for herself by pioneering this trend and helping brands create commercial spaces that are designed to be inhabited without the pressure to purchase anything, ‘places to hang out’. As the ever-innovative concept of Soho House was conceived of as a ‘home away from home’ for representatives of creative industries, it made perfect sense that Eagle was chosen by the group to create and oversee their first fashion appendix, The Store Berlin, to be followed by the second location, The Store London. The Store Berlin occupies the ground floor of the Grade II-listed building that dominates the intersection where the bohemian Prenzlauerberg ends and the hip Torstrasse begins.
"Built in the 1920s in the modernist style of New Objectivity, the facade of great proportions with no decor brings to mind official establishment rather than a department store that was originally in there".
No wonder that Hitler Youth and the Communist Party gravitated towards the building alike, using its seven storeys for offices and archives. Nowadays the overpowering official air of the building is toned down by the professionals of creative industries hurrying for a meeting at the rooftop bar, travelers checking into the hotel rooms seduced by the proximity of Alexanderplatz, and fashion types on their way to the trendy shops of SoTo (South Torstrasse).
The Store serves as a hybrid of an open lobby hall, a concept store and a cafe. The space with the industrial loft aesthetic is designed with self-awareness: the full height mirrors, green leafy plants and flower installations by the Gucci collaborator Ruby Barber are highly pleasing visually, and furniture and stylish items of decor for use are also for sale. A curated selection of clothes and accessories consists of this season’s it-items from Vetements, Raf Simons, Burberry, Off-White, Balenciaga, alongside beauty products and vinyl records. The Store is one of select Berlin destinations for independent international publications: it offers fashion magazines, photography books and is a home distributor to The Travel Almanac and 032C. The Store’s well-connected manager Celia Solf makes sure the relevance of the place stays high: a look at the regulars in the mid-century chairs uncovers an international designer sipping on a cold pressed juice of the in-house brand House Press or an editor of a Berlin-based magazine who popped in for a lunch from the Store’s Kitchen. On a special day, a visitor can catch a surprise DJ-set of Louis Vuitton’s Virgil Abloh or a video installation by the in-demand filmmaker Kahlil Joseph.