Across 170 square meters, stuf|f offers men’s classic products meant to last. Founders Stephan and Thomas met each other ten years ago during a big football tournament for advertising agencies, where both played in the same team. “To be honest initially we didn’t like each other very much,” recalls Thomas laughing. Three years later, they worked on a joint project in Hamburg and went out for a beer on a Monday evening. “We ended up dancing in a bar at 4 o’clock. I think this was the start of our friendship,” he continues. Both were working as strategists for several advertising and communication agencies, creating tones of papers with concepts, a lot of which were never implemented. “That was also a motivation for starting our store: To produce something real and tangible, rather than producing another concept that will probably end up in the trash,” explains Stephan. After four years of talks, Thomas finally sat down last summer to write a concrete concept paper, the first draft of stuf|f. The store opened its doors on November 26, 2015. The date wasn’t chosen by accident. “There was a popular “Night Shopping” event in our area on this day. That was a perfect deadline for us to get finished. You know we are agency guys, we need deadlines,” confesses Stephan, giggling. In the lines below, both founders give us more details about their clientele, brand preferences and the amazing furniture pieces that they’re also selling.
Parallel to the growth of fast-fashion brands, there are also more and more brands rooted in the slow fashion movement –products unattached to swift manufacturing processes and constantly shifting trends that are meant to last. Do you think it responds to a gradual change in the consumer’s mindset?
Thomas: I think there’s always been also a demand for quality goods that last. But in the past people trustfully equated brand names with quality per se. It has to be good because it’s from label xyz. What’s really new is that people now have started to ask where and how goods are produced.
Through your experience in the store, how would you describe the person that becomes interested in this type of products? Do they desperately seek great value for money?
T: Interestingly our experience so far shows that you can’t put these people together to one homogenous group. Neither in terms of age –we have students as well as pensioners among our customers–, nor in terms of style, education or income. The only common factor is the wish for good quality goods that have been made in a sustainable way, with respect to the people and environment. In tune with the motto “buying less, but better”.
Stephan: And they love the atmosphere here in our store.
How do you stay informed about new interesting labels?
T: We are constantly seeking new brands and brand stories. On the one hand the digital channels make it very easy to get new inspiration today. Especially very visual platforms like Instagram are seeding the ground for new labels... We also do a lot of research in webzines, on styleblogs, or browse platforms like Kickstarter. And on the other hand the traditional channels like magazines are still very relevant. Especially for the denim bizz there are some very inspirational titles. And of course we go to trade shows. We’d love to attend more shows, especially in the US and Japan but that’s a question of time and money.
S: If we find a new interesting label that appeals to us with its style, its philosophy and it’s very own story we purchase some of their goods to check out the quality. If we are convinced we contact the label and ask if they could imagine working with us. For some of our brands we are the first and only retailer at all or the first retailer in Europe.
What are the best-selling brands right now?
T: Here we have to slightly differentiate: We have customers who are already a kind of ‘denim heads’ where we sell Rogue Territory or our Japanese brands like The Flat Head very well. Other customers are quite new to the raw denim topic. Here the best-sellers are Brave Star Selvage, offering great value for money) and Blaumann Jeans, locally made in Germany.
You also sell beautiful vintage-inspired furniture pieces. How do you come across them?
S: That’s quite similar to how we find new fashion labels. We have always an eye for new interior ideas, we browse the internet –here we find a lot of inspiration on Pinterest–, we go to flea markets, and we have very good contacts to carpenters and small German furniture labels. Every piece is handpicked.
What are your favorite denim brands and why?
T: Wow, that's a really tough question... we carry only brands that we personally love and wear. But if I have to answer right now I'd first of all mention Rogue Territory because for us it provides the perfect balance of traditional, handcrafted quality and contemporary interpretation of classic garments. Perfect fits, timeless styles and great subtle design details …, RGT is really an everyday classic.
The next one is Shockoe Atelier, the latest addition to our denim brands. The jeans are handmade - of best Japanese selvedge denim - in small batches in their Richmond Virginia Workshop. These jeans are really made to last, stressed out by the fact that Shockoe offers free repairs for life.
And of course our Japanese denim brands, especially The Strike Gold that actually was the very first brand we contacted when we decided to open a store. These jeans are incredible and the perfect choice for real denim heads. Simple styles, great attention to detail and these fantastic fabrics with that burly feel that age so beautifully.
stuf|f fine goods
t: +49 (0)172 26 111 87