All eyes are on Berlin this week - iIt's trade show time in the German capital! When exploring the city from a shopping point of view, checking out 14 oz. in Berlin's Mitte district is a must for true denim lovers. SI spoke to Daniel Werner, shop manager of the prestigeous store which is owned by Bread & Butter operator Karl-Heinz Müller.

What led you to open 14 oz. in the first place? Tell us the story behind you store.
After working in the textile industry for nearly 20 years, Karl-Heinz Müller fulfilled his dream of owning a store by opening 14 oz. in Cologne in 1999. He designed it following his own unique vision of what a multi-label denim store should be. 14 oz. quickly became Germany’s top destination for denim lovers and fans of high-class jeans, progressive streetwear and timeless classics. With the success of fashion trade show Bread & Butter, Müller moved to Berlin in 2003 and closed 14 oz. in Cologne. He always wanted to reopen the shop and in 2007 found a sales area that perfectly suited the store concept – a landmarked house built in 1890 on Neue Schönhauser Straße. In July 2008, 14 oz. celebrated its second opening in the exciting, vibrant fashion district of Mitte in the heart of Berlin.

Which is the most important ingredient for successful retail?
One crucial factor is to have a distinct, honest concept with a significant brand portfolio – the customer must be able to clearly identify the concept the store embodies and its philosophy concerning product selection. It’s equally important to have a well-trained staff that is motivated and that can naturally identify with the brands while mediating the store’s values in an unobtrusive way.

What are your current bestselling labels and styles? Do you have a personal favorite brand?
For us, it’s the timeless “specialists“ which work best – brands that specialize in one product group and produce it with an eye for perfection and exceptional quality awareness. I don’t have one favorite brand but I do have one favorite specialist for each product group and many favorite pieces.

VIP dressing room at 14oz
VIP dressing room at 14oz
How important is the denim segment for your business?
It is our mission to offer a complete and timeless selection to our customers. Our segment contains everything that should be part of a well-sorted, long-lasting wardrobe that includes denim. Owning one or more pairs of well-made jeans is a must.

In terms of denim, which patterns/forms/special finishes/colors are the favorites at the moment?
The tapered fit still dominates – roomy at the thigh and slim towards the ankle. A closer cut of the classic tapered fit has also been established in a slim straight leg that gets even tighter at the bottom. A classic favorite piece of ours is still the straight cut, fitted or loose. Unwashed jeans are gaining more importance; washes should be authentic and not too loud.

Which new brand have you taken on most recently?
3x1, the new denim project from Scott Morrison for women and men.
aquarium at 14oz
aquarium at 14oz

Where do you buy your products? What inspires you? Where do you inform yourself about trends?
For ordering purposes we mostly fly to the labels’ showrooms in Munich, London, New York and Paris. We go for smaller labels at Pitti in Florence or Berlin’s Bread & Butter. A lot of travelling is required as we find much inspiration in the club, bar, restaurant, music and art scenes of creative capitals around the world.

Which trends can be expected for 2013?
Tassel or penny loafers in strong colors with a contrasting sole-high quality are key trend pieces for spring 2013. Although some trendsetters have already discovered the shoe, I think it will fully arrive in the wardrobe of the style-conscious by next spring. We don’t have a unique color trend for 2012 but as “blue-blooded” indigo lovers, blue in all its facets remains the dominating favorite.

Do your customers come in looking for specific brands or trends or do they buy spontaneously?
The majority of our customers visit us systematically. They are well informed about our products and know exactly what they want. We communicate very precisely and consistently about what we offer and which values and philosophy we follow. By doing so, we have gained a unique international reputation and therefore do not have to wait for accidental sales. Most of our customers come to our store intentionally and know that they will find what they’re looking for.
14 oz. owner Karl-Heinz Müller
14 oz. owner Karl-Heinz Müller

How do stay in touch with your regular customers?
Our customers stay informed on the philosophy, portfolio and history of the 14 oz. Stores via Well-chosen photos transmit the atmosphere of the store and private shopping area to new customers. Recent highlights and the season’s specific brand menu are also displayed, as well as the 14 oz. blog, in which we provide comprehensive background information on our brand correspondence. Another service we offer is a newsletter. Customers can sign up online or in-store. Facebook is an important medium that lets us inform our international customers about current products, events and sales quickly and continuously.

What do you like about your city/your position/your customers?
Berlin is a unique city with an art scene, nightlife and creative energy that are incomparable to anywhere else. Berlin and its citizens are incredibly enthusiastic and very quick to grasp progressive ideas. As I mentioned above, our customers know what they want and are very well informed about the products. Communication with them and their passion for our products is very inspiring.

Do you have an online shop?
Our web shop was created for special edition pieces designed exclusively for 14 oz. They are characterized by their quality and individuality and are produced in small factories or even handcrafted at times. Buying online can’t give you the same experience as in-store purchasing, so the online store is only an additional offer. The Internet can never replace the personal buying experience.
dressing rooms
dressing rooms

Is there a shop that inspires you and serves as your role model?
Instead of being influenced by other store concepts, we focus on personalities, products and brand histories that have a similar down-to-earth approach to ours.

What differentiates your store from others?
We have a great location and every aspect of our store conveys our love for the original and unique. Our attention to detail and quality is mirrored in our interior, in the selection of brands and in our employees. Our staff is well educated and motivated, which seems to be becoming more and more rare in this industry.