Since 2008, Daniel Steindorf is selling what he calls “menswear for guys with style” in Frankfurt/Main – a city that is rather known for dull suits than a stylistic sense. For the eighth birthday of his store Uebervart, the retailer recently revised not only his assortment (with several new brands including Gosha Rubchinskiy, Off-White, A Kind of Guise and Joseph), but also the store’s interior and e-commerce strategy. We spoke to Steindorf about the novelties, his bestsellers and how to sell Billionaire Boys Club and Helmut Lang at the same time.
What’s new at Uebervart, why did you decide to refurbish the store?
Well, after 8 years I felt there’s time for a change. As we did in our assortment we wanted to refresh the look of the store as well. More grown-up, cleaner, with a stronger focus on fashion.
A while ago you closed your second location, the separate Uebervart sneaker store, and instead implemented a sneaker wall into your menswear store. Now you are cutting down the offer even more to only the very limited/high-end lines. Why are you deliberately giving up on the wider sneaker business, isn’t that just easy money?
The sneaker business changed a lot within the last 3 years. Major players like Foot Locker or JD became more powerful in the German market and international competitors entered. Besides this our customer changed, too. So we wanted to go back to our roots: contemporary menswear. Of course, sneakers are linked to contemporary styles but we decided to play the game a bit different and give the customer a more specific than a holistic selection.
You are also cutting down your online business and instead want to offer more store- and city-related content on your new website Uebervart.de (going live September 1). What are the reasons behind this; is e-commerce really slowing down?
Growing in e-commerce is super expensive nowadays: SEO, Marketing, Google, providing the best service, pictures, fast shipping and customer service. It is possible but we realized that having the power in our city, providing great service instore, having a nice atmosphere around is more important for us. In the near future our online business should be more about teasing our products and strengthening our brand. We will of course offer a selection of styles in our web shop but we will focus on classic retail.
What does it take to successfully run a brick-and-mortar retail store in 2016, what are the three most important attributes?
„Work hard and be nice to people”- that’s it. You need experienced, service orientated staff who love the job, provide the best service and understand the mix-and-match of the products. Building a creative but stable assortment each season that makes the store a destination worth going is the job for the buyer. Then add some fun and the customer will love you. (Smiles)
There are obviously not a lot of competing upper menswear fashion stores in Frankfurt. Are Frankfurters so style-resistant? Is it hard to fashion-educate people over here?
Menswear itself is not the easiest business. But in Frankfurt men normally work in suits and do not have so much time left for contemporary fashion. But it is getting better. The younger guys are very well informed due to menswear blogs like Hypebeast or Highsnobiety and the hype in menswear itself has made it easier over the last 1 1/2 years.
You are newly stocking Gosha Rubchinskiy and Off-White but also very classic high-end Italian menswear brands – who is your preferred customer, the hype kid or the banker?
Both. Sometimes it is funny to see that a client on the cash desk buys a button-down shirt by Maison Kitsuné and a Common Projects boot and the kid behind him takes an Adidas sneaker and a Gosha hat. Then I always think: yeah, it works, Uebervart offers menswear for guys with style.
How difficult is it to get sought-after brands with a limited distribution on board? Did you ever really wanted to sell a brand but didn’t get the permission?
In our situation it is of course easier. Brands know the store and we have a track record for eight years now. But, nevertheless, sometimes brands change their distribution strategy and so we recently lost Palace who are going to sell via their own stores only. And some brands did not answer our request…but those are just a few.
Which has been you absolute favorite collection you saw for spring/summer ’17? Which brand do you have the highest (sales) expectations for?
It think the Stone Island mainline is strong and a great add to our selection. But I also love the new Our Legacy collection. A very strong brand identity is back in there. We expect the highest sales for Norse Projects and Acne.
What have been your absolute bestsellers (both brands and styles) over the past few seasons?
Adidas, Acne and A.P.C. were strong brands. Style-wise, shirts with band collars and all new sneaker silhouettes (like the Adidas NMD) worked out really well.
Kleiner Hirschgraben 14
60311 Frankfurt am Main
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