Wilco Van Der Werf is our retailer of the week and the owner of Funkie House in Rotterdam – a real street- and urbanwear institution for almost 25 years now. With another streetwear store in Rotterdam and one in Den Haag he has a lot of experience and passion for the business. In our interview he explains the change of the market, which brands are the most demanding and where he gets his inspiration from. Interview by Juliette Nguyen

Why did you open your store? Tell us the story behind the opening.
Funkie House opened its doors for business 25 year ago. Back then it was a shop that sold everything having to do with different fashion statements in the music scene. A lot of tour shirts and badges for your denim jacket. After a while this shifted to more streetwear. Back then there was no shop selling a mix of different kinds of streetwear. You had a skate shop or surf shop. We made a mix, because the boys and girls on the street wear a mix. We mixed street with fashion, sport with denim. That made us unique and very successful. A few years ago we changed to a new kind of fashion – Scandinavian fashion. We were one of the first Dutch retailers to scout Scandinavia for new trends. Today almost all of our brands are from Scandinavia.

Exterior view of the store in Rotterdam
Exterior view of the store in Rotterdam

What are your current bestselling labels? What brands are your personal favorites?
At the moment the bestselling label is Minimum for men and women. It is a nice clean label with a great fit and nice material at a very good price. We’ve been offering this label for some time now, but the last few seasons it has done very well in our shops.

How important is the denim segment to your store?
Denim is not our core business, but it was always an important part of Funkie House – not only pants but also denim jackets or shirts. But we also sell denim shoes or bags.

In terms of denims: What cuts, shapes, washes, and colors are most popular just now?
At the moment Nudie is the absolute number one in sales. We are selling skinny pants the best. The model skinny Lin is our bestseller, for men and women. We are the only shop in the Netherlands selling this skinny denim model that much. I think because our customers are trendsetters and are open for new things.

A small part of their apparel assortment & changing rooms
A small part of their apparel assortment & changing rooms
Do customers search for favorite brands and special styles or do they buy spontaneously?
The Funkie House customer is a trendsetter, and expects new trends when they come to the store. Out customers look for a certain style or a brand. More and more it is a style they look for and less a brand.

Where do you order your products?
We go to shows like Bread & Butter, Seek, Capsule as often as possible. We order most brands in the Netherlands, but also order some at trade shows or over the Web.

What inspires you, where do you get your information about upcoming trends?
The people in our shop inspire us, the people on the street. You are inspired 24/7 when you work at Funkie House. We try to be everywhere, at festivals, in bars, on the street, at  the beach.

Are there any new brands which you have ordered for the first time now?
Every season we have at least two new brands. This season Toms, Saucony, Karhu, Gram are new, all shoe brands. Our shoe shop-in-shop has 250 square meters and so we we needed more shoe brands.

What do you think will be the key pieces/trends for summer 2014?
I love trenchcoats. They are cool with denim or chino, for men or women. Especially the coats with technical input, that makes them even better, warmer, more waterproof. But always with a fashionable look!

Every season, Funkie house has at least two new brands
Every season, Funkie house has at least two new brands
How do you stay in contact with your (regular) customers?
Of cource by talking to them in our store or when we meet them at a festival or in a bar. We stay in contact through social media. We also organize friends and family evenings for our loyal customers. We have a customer card, where our customer can save up for a nice discount. And we have an event every month in or around our shops! “Funkie House: Fun | Fashion | Trends | And The Best Events”  is our slogan. Our events help us stay in touch with our customers. We have a demin workshop, Lomo workshop, art expo, bike tour.

What do you like about your location and your customers?
At the moment Rotterdam is hot, real hot! Even in New York they write about Rotterdam as the hippest top 10 city in the world! Rotterdam and Funkie House are one and the same thing. Rotterdam is known for its work ethic, they say, “don’t talk about is, just do it.”

The store design concept is inspired by Urban Outfitters
The store design concept is inspired by Urban Outfitters

Are there any differences to similar stores in cities like Berlin, London or New York?
If I had to compare Funkie House with a well known store it would be Urban Outfitters (the originals in NY or London).

Do you have an online shop? Do you run any social media activities?
We don’t have an online shop, but we will have one at the end of this year.

Is there a role model for your shop? Any store – worldwide – which inspires you?
Urban Outfitters used to be our inspiration a long time ago, we loved how they mixed up all the different kinds of fashion. But nowadays Funkie House is an institution of its own. I don’t know any shop like us. Although there are many many great shops  in the world! Especially the independent local heroes in every great city.

Funkie House
Korte Hoogstraat 15-A
3011 GJ Rotterdam

Tel. +31 10 433 3507