Anna Breuer opened up her boutique Liebling in Cologne’s hip Belgian district in March 2012. Here, she pays tribute to her passion for the fashion of the early to mid 20th century and sells female garments and accessories by brands such as Lena Hoschek, Moschine Cheap and Chic, Minna Parikka or The Laundress. With her enthusiasm and personal advice, she strives to make each of her customers find a “Liebling” – a new favourite piece of clothing – within her assortment.

Which trends do you foresee for 2013?
I think pleated skirts are going to be big. Speaking of women’s fashion, I think the general trend is to dress up again. Laid-back t-shirts and jersey dresses are great, but boring. Women are now beginning to enjoy dressing like women once again, with everything connected.

Tell us a bit about your most interesting labels.
The general idea behind the store was to sell brands that have either been in existence for ages and doubtlessly represent great quality (such as Schiesser) as well as to support designers who focus on flawless cuts and fits. I find it very interesting how, for instance, Lena Hoschek and Mädchentraum come up with such different creations while using the same inspiration, namely fashion from the 19040’s to 60’s. And of course I’m also impressed that these designers are strong young women from the German-speaking area who are totally determined to do their thing. I do see great potential in that.

What does your shop have that others don’t?
Apart from the interior: Time. I want our customers to feel good and comfortable and for them to have time to relax. I like to think of the store as a large, pretty closet where you can try on anything you want without being looked at critically.

What do you like about the city and your customers?
Cologne is very distinct, but also authentic. It’s not Germany’s fashion capital, but I really like the people for being so down-to-earth. The Belgian district is great and full of creatives, which you can feel in all of the area’s gastronomic and retail offers. There is something new to discover behind every corner, which is really exciting.

How important is the interior and atmosphere to the success of the shop?
That is very important. The concept has to be harmonious, coherent and unique – without being too exaggerated.

How is buying behaviour developing – are people looking for classics or special items?
Anyone who comes to Liebling is looking for something special, but the idea of how extraordinary it may be can vary. I have a feeling that this depends on the financial background of the clients and on their sense of self. There are a few very successful women here who have a certain air about them and do not mind standing out. However, whenever someone who usually dresses quite casually has to decide between the classic and the special piece, they mainly tend to purchase the more wearable option.

Do you plan on opening up an online shop?
No, I’m not planning to open an online shop because it doesn’t fit with my concept. Personally, I prefer to try on garments before I buy them. Isn’t it much more fun to ecstatically stand in front of the mirror and struggle with your conscience and finances, instead of just clicking the mouse a few times? Personal communication and exchange is very essential to what Liebling stands for.

Does Liebling have a role model? A shop somewhere in the world that serves as inspiration?
There is no concrete role model store but I was definitively inspired by my time in New York, where I attended university. 9th Street in the East Village is my absolute favorite place in the whole world. With all of the unique shops and cafés there, you can frequently find logos such as Liebling’s or old-fashioned golden lettering on shop windows.