This week Sportswear International talked to the brothers Jan and Rainer Klaas, who run the shop Klaas in Bochum, Germany, together with owner Anja Klaas, about the coolest looks for summer, the importance of the right store design, and the fear of offering menswear.

“It took a while, but now jeans by Current Elliott are definitely our bestsellers. Our female clients love the classical ones and, of course, chinos for summer. We decided to offer them in simple colors like grey, beige, or khaki. During the trade shows red chinos went very well - but that’s not Bochum. That’s not our client. Sometimes strangely dressed housewives come in and ask for red trousers, because they saw pictures in magazines like InStyle. But as we want our clients to look good in an authentic way, bright, slim chinos on such women wouldn’t work. If it comes to eye-catching jeans, we sell lots of True Religion models. People here still love them.

We are often asked why we don’t offer clothes for men, but, to be honest, we are a little afraid of picking clothes for men. It’s great to see the women’s collections in London or Paris and select the ones that fit in the Klaas portfolio. But for men, it’s different. We even don’t like to shop for our own wardrobes - for others it would be even harder. Sometimes Anja orders two pints of beer for us in a pub in London and forces us to shop afterwards. Okay, then we have to, but I believe we are not easy.
Rainer and Jan Klaas
Rainer and Jan Klaas

We moved to the new location in August of 2010. Our store previously had been a bank. That’s kind of charming. They left the safes in the basement, but unfortunately took all the money. We really like the light atmosphere, the white interior, the raw grey floor and, of course, our heart: the huge mirror ball which was the first thing we bought. There were only eight weeks between signing the contract and opening the store, so we didn’t have the opportunity to design an eye-catching store concept. So we work with cool silver mirrors or an antique-looking shelf in which we present a small selection of candles or soap from London companies like Bomb Cosmetics. As the garments, shoes and accessories have to be noticed first, we are really happy with the pure interior. Our last store had lots of corners, but we now recognize that it’s much easier for new clients to step into a big, white room, which gives them an overview.

Next to the denim brands, Patrizia Pepe is our best-selling collection. The price segment is perfect for us and the pieces have this slim fit our clients like. Sometimes we add more experimental garments from Markus Lupfer or small Scandinavian brands or cool t-shirts, but we change them from season to season.

As Bochum doesn’t have many good shoe stores, we decided to enlarge this segment a bit. For summer, we sell Patrizia Pepe or Ash, in winter many, many Ugg boots. They have become classics for the modern woman, such as blazers or chinos.

To complete the look, we offer See by Chloé bags, jewelry pieces from small brands like Alex Monroe and, of course, scarves. Even if they are made of cashmere and thus have their price, like the ones from Lala Berlin, they run very well and are the perfect gifts for a daughter, sister or friend. At the end of this month, we will open our new online store Many of our customers don’t have much time and would love to buy some items like bags or scarves via internet. It’s really exciting, because it’s a new step for us. We will offer just a selection of our products and the focus will stay on the brick and mortar store, because that’s our heart.

We are based in a city with not more than 380,000 people. People know each other here. 90% of the people who step in here are regular customers. Some of them for sure even don’t know the name of our store. They come to see Anja, Jan and Rainer. Half of our weekly sales volume is made on Saturdays. It’s wonderful for us to observe how people use our store as a kind of meeting point. Women talk and give style advice to each other and the husbands talk about soccer or work while waiting and having a Prosecco. That’s a big part of our philosophy: to build up and keep personal relationships with our customers. They trust us - and that’s the best thing of the business.”

Klaas, Luisenstraße 9-13, 44787 Bochum, Germany