Apartment is nothing new. In fact, it’s occupied its current space in the heart of Berlin’s Alexanderplatz-Hackescher Market shopping district for quite some time. But most of the shoppers that trundle through these streets in search of trendy fashion items and bijou little design objects don’t even notice it’s there.
That’s because Apartment’s large street-level space is usually empty. In a conceit that defies all received retail logic, Apartment entirely disposes of its potential to pull in the passing footfall punters – occasionally an exhibition project in what they refer to as “the gallery” might attract some attention – and confines its retail activities to the large basement, kitted out in nightclub black. What else could be more fitting for Berlin?
So, unless you’re in the know, chances are that you aren’t going to push open the door to what appears to be an empty shop space in a rather banal DDR-era building and head for the spiral staircase that leads to the basement shop. And perhaps that’s exactly what Apartment want: they don’t have to deal with hordes of touristy rubberneckers who will never buy anything. Anyone who makes it to the basement is either a true explorer or already committed to the kind of stuff that Apartment sells. Since a lot of it is hardly on the cheap side, there are nonetheless some committed, drooling window-shoppers, many of them fashion victims who love what they see but don’t have the budget to leave the shop with a purchase.
Offering a multi-brand, unisex selection of clothing and accessories, Apartment’s stock changes quite a lot. Sometimes it offers pieces from the collections by obscure international luxury designers. But desirable cult streetwear labels and Berlin’s home-grown talent also feature strongly in what you can find on its shelves and rails. What’s usually consistent though is a particular sensibility that favours minimal, sculptural clothing and accessories in rich materials like leather, silk or suede. That grown-up clubber vibe so strongly associated with Berlin also features perennially. Not that they aren’t above a bit of theatricality and sometimes you can come across some well realised, fairly way-out items in among all the stylish simplicity.
Apartment doesn’t offer online shopping, though you can enquire about a limited number of items shown on their site. That means that it’s one of those places that you’ll actually have to go to experience. If you’ve pounded the pavements of Mitte and come across a lot of the same, try popping down to the basement at Apartment for something different. Don’t worry: even if you don’t commit to any of their pricey items they won’t be unfriendly. The fact that you even found the place generally earns you respect.