Our favourite vintage clothing store, by far, is Dandy Horse Berlin! Located by Kreuzberg’s Görlitzer Park and just off Reichenberger Strasse, the quality of clothes on offer here are not only exceptional, but colourful, cool and fairly priced – especially considering that many of the pieces are by respected designers on in-demand brands! What’s perhaps the icing on the cake, is that it’s run by a super-friendly couple passionate about fashion and always willing to help suggest great pieces in a non-pushy way. Meet Maurizio Erriu & Laura Ter Meer in our interview below…
Like us, you’re an Expat couple working together. Where are you both from and what were you both doing before setting up Dandy Horse Berlin?
Laura: I’m from the Netherlands where I graduated in communication science, after which I moved to Berlin. I worked at different start-ups before setting up Dandy Horse Berlin, occupying different positions.
At the first start-up I worked as a fashion stylist and eventually ended up as a content manager in the architecture & interior design branch. After working at these start-ups for 4 years I realised it wasn’t so much my thing and decided to join Maurizio in setting up a small business.
Maurizio: I’m from Italy where I was holding different positions prior to setting up Dandy Horse Berlin. I worked in retail, was manager of a golf club and had my own project where I was offering sushi catering.
When I moved from Italy 3.5 years ago I worked in the kitchen of a few restaurants such as Michelberger. In Spring 2016 I started fixing up bicycles and selling them. Laura joined me in the winter when the company expanded to vintage clothing.
How would you say Dandy Horse Berlin is different from most vintage clothing stores?
Well first of all we’d like to position ourselves more as a concept store rather than a classic vintage store, because besides vintage clothing we are also selling vintage road bikes, products and designs by emerging local labels – such as drinks, garments and leather goods – vintage industrial furniture, second hand vinyls and a couple of other product types. Our stock decisions are always made with the underlying values of sustainability though; that’s what’s connecting all of the products.
Secondly, our vintage products are all hand-picked by ourselves and eventually displayed in such a matter our customers can enjoy a curated shopping experience.
For the clothing itself we can furthermore say that we always try to source high quality pieces made from only natural fibers and clothes in mint condition. A lot of the garments show no signs of age or are actually unworn. We also offer high-end designer wear, mainly from Italian fashion designers. As those have been our best-selling products, we’ll likely move more and more in the direction of designer ready-to-wear.
Oh, and before we forget, we recently also started accepting Bitcoins as a form of payment and thought it would make sense to mention that here too 🙂
And you sell classic Dutch racing bikes too! How did this come about?
We actually started off with selling just bicycles from home. When winter arrived we had to reinvent ourselves which is how the idea of vintage clothing came about. From there on we developed our concept, driven by our dedication to promote conscious consumerism. See where biking is the catalyst for more human and sustainable transport, vintage and locally made clothing are the ethical answer to fast-fashion.
What made you choose Kreuzberg as a place to open up?
With its anti-establishment culture we think Kreuzberg is a great neighbourhood for independent shops. More specifically the “Kiez” we’re in has been seeing a lot of development lately with many cool art galleries, record shops etc. opening up and of course the culinary hotspot Paul-Lincke-Ufer at just a stone’s throw away.
The quality and selection of items you have is awesome! Tell us, what is the process of finding your clothes?
We work with different wholesalers from different countries, depending on the type of product.
Our Italian designer garments are sourced directly from Italy. It obviously comes in very handy that Maurizio is Italian, just as it’s convenient that Laura comes from the Netherlands, from where we source the bicycles.
In same cases we also take clothes in-consignment or buy them from privates but preferably only vintage high-end designer pieces.
What’s your favourite item in the store at the moment and why?
Mine (Laura) would be this leather jacket by Just Cavalli in trench coat style. The leather has been handled in such a way that it actually looks like the skin of a turtle and they’ve added these lines of frayed jeans throughout the jacket.
Mine (Maurizio) would be this wax jacket by Gianfranco Ferré that has these great big pockets, chunky zippers and interesting straps.
A lot of your garments are bursting with colour, which we love. We feel a lot of Berliners only tend to wear black or dark colours. Does this pose problems in attracting customers or make you more sought after?
That’s an interesting question actually.
When we started 70% of our selection was black! We figured that was what the market wanted, but we couldn’t have been more wrong.
Somehow our customers seem to avoid buying black. We’re not sure why actually. Maybe that’s just the kind of people we attract, although we have to say we also get plenty of customers coming in who are dressed fully in black and who are searching for something different.
Maybe it’s because people tend to buy black clothes on the high street, but for small vintage stores it seems a lot of people (or at least our customers) are searching for something that really stands out from the crowd, which in Berlin isn’t really black…
The store itself looks really cool – slick, minimalist and aesthetically pleasing on the eye that lets the colourful clothes shine. How did you create the space?
Well thank you! A lot of the credit has to go to the architects (“marplusask”) who own and renovated the space (which used to be a “Schlecker”!) and have an apartment right behind the shop. As we weren’t allowed to drill any holes in the walls we had to come up with a creative solution.
I (Maurizio) have always really liked the idea of scaffolding tubes as clothing racks and now we had the perfect “excuse” to use them. Laura’s father found all the second hand materials such as the scaffolding tubes and the corrugated iron from a local farmer in the Netherlands and helped us built the racks, fitting room etc.
Why do you think vintage fashion in general is so in style these days?
We suppose it has multiple explanations.
First of all there is the movement of slow-fashion (one of its elements is buying vintage) as a response to fast-fashion which is really gaining momentum these days.
And then there are of course a couple of USSR-born fashion designers that really seem to dictate the industry these days such as Demna Gvasalia and Gosha Rubchinskiy. Their approach to fashion – influenced by a ‘90s post-Soviet aesthetic – caused a revival of many of its era’s staples such as mass-market ‘90s sportswear.
What challenges did you have in setting up the business?
We’ve noticed a huge gap between summer and winter, sales and traffic wise so we suppose that was and still is our biggest challenge.
Of course bikes are very seasonal products, but it’s not only because of that; getting our brand out there for people to notice takes time and effort so we’re still very dependent on spontaneous traffic, which there is just a lot more of in the summer than in winter.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of setting up a fashion outlet?
Honestly, we’re actually still figuring out a lot ourselves… but what we can say is commitment, dedication and passion will bring you pretty far! Also be aware of the power and beauty of patience and don’t forget to be grateful for the little achievements; that’ll just attract more of those.
Where do you both like to eat, drink and hangout in Berlin?
To eat, drink and also hangout Michelberger is always a winner.
Food-wise we love Asian cuisine a lot, with our last discoveries being Sticks N Sushi for special occasions and Maison Han for a more affordable breakfast or lunch.
Our morning routine includes coffee and breakfast at our neighbour Kapitän.
And drinks: at the moment we’re really into Muted Horn that offers many delicious craft beers on tap. For coffee it’s Five Elephant. Or Bonanza; their cafe/roastery in Kreuzberg is such a beautiful space!
In winter time we love to go to the occasional concert at Funkhaus and summer time is best spent in some park such as Tempelhofer Feld or around the Landwehrkanal.
Berlin is a wonderful city for many reasons – but what makes it so special to you? So please complete the following sentence “For us, Berlin is”
” … like an amusement park – full of entertainment and a lot of fun, but if you pick the wrong attractions it’ll leave you feeling off-balance”
Dandy Horse Berlin is an AWESOME STORE. We highly recommend giving them a visit to find some vintage gems or give a classic racing bike a test run! Check them out on Facebook here