For our German Issue we talk to several insiders and industry veterans. One of them is Hakan Temür. With Brandpool Temür has established a distribution business that is doing well and with The Listener, a trendy store in Frankfurt.
It is Friday just before three in the afternoon. We’re sitting in an Italian restaurant on the Wilhelmsplatz in Offenbach. Hakan Temürʼs cellphone rings. A brief conversation, then he storms out the door. One, two minutes pass and then he comes back in. I ask him what that was. The parking inspector’s office has tipped him off that his car was in a no-parking zone and would get towed away. The man with Turkish roots has good connections.
And it is these contacts that he has to thank for his getting into the fashion industry. Temür, who grew up in Duisburg and Istanbul, had little to do with fashion at first. His father came to Germany as a guest-worker and worked as a shift worker in the industrial region until he eventually went back to his Turkish homeland with his family and worldly goods in 1985. Temür tried to return to Germany twice, without success, until he was finally successful in the beginning of the 1990s, and stayed for good. In Offenbach he finally stumbled into the fashion business after a few detours. According to him, Ulf Zaeper, who at that time was working for Freeman T. Porter, taught him everything about fashion distribution and thus opened the door to the fashion world for him. He can still remember his first order: “I’ll never forget that. After a long day I had a €20,000 order from Sky Planet Boutique in Bensheim in my pocket.” When he calculated his commission for this order he knew: this is my thing.
Long years of hard work followed as (assistant) representative for various fashion and jeans brands through his Fashion Department agency founded 2000. These same years he also lived the high life. His dubious reputation as the Godfather of Offenbach was not just out of the blue, he admits quite openly. After all, partying all night at popular clubs and everything that goes with it was part of his concept. And while he doesn’t admire it, Temür remains relaxed about it. He has calmed down and has lived for years with his partner and her daughter. That keeps his feet on the ground somehow. In addition, such a reputation has its advantages. “I say what I think and enjoy a certain freedom to do what I want.” In the industry too, about which he is very well informed. He has already helped build up a few brands successfully and has positioned them on the market. One of them is Nudie Jeans.
“That was my first major success,” says Temür, who promoted the brand in Germany starting in 2004. “Nudie was and still is a super partner. The team changed my personality. They are honest people who stand up for what they believe and keep their word,” he remembers. “That was a milestone.” The industry had become aware of him and he received more inquiries. The following brands are currently part of 2007 founded Brandpool’s portfolio : Alpha Industries, ARKK Copenhagen, Blue Matters, Champions, Daily Paper, DEUS EX Machina, Filling Pieces, Happy Socks, Hysteria, J.Legacee, KRAKATAU, Les Basics, Les Benjamins, Nudie, Stutterheim, Super Légère and The Cords.
He prefers to work with owner-managed brands. They motivate him especially. “I need the ‘thank you,’ and you get that from people, not investors,” he explains
At some point, however, the sales side became too one-sided for Temür. He set off for new shores and in 2013, in liaison with the Frankfurt real estate investor Ardi Goldman, opened the trend store The Listener at the former diamond exchange. Today the store still has not turned a profit, but what has been learned is priceless. “It is quite different to sit on the other side of the table,” says Temür. “In the beginning we wanted to make a statement and establish competence through our shop.” But with running the business came the challenges: finding suitable staff, introducing organizational structure, establishing procedures and the daily quarrels with suppliers. The Listener began with 130 brands and now stocks 90. “With the store we realized for the first time what errors suppliers make and what consequences these have for the retailer and the sales floor,” summarizes Temür. “We saw there for the first time who does good work and who doesn’t.” And because Temür wants Brandpool to belong to the good ones, he now pays greater attention to offering good service and avoiding typical supplier errors.
Temür and Goldman have decided to go separate ways in the future. Temür will buy him out of The Listener before the end of this year and take over his shares of the business. This has been Temür’s goal for some time already, because, according to him, there are some differences in orientation. After long negotiations, they have now reached a business agreement. How much independence from Goldmann will finally cost him, Temür did not reveal. With his new-found freedom, he and his partner Anna Pflaum want to achieve the long-held plans to get into e-commerce. A team is now being set up with a partner to pursue this. Additional, the showroom in Dusseldorf will extend with a creative office for design, development and visual communication. Administration and Marketing/PR will stay at the Offenbach headquarters. The sales area will also be transferred to Düsseldorf and Munich.
In addition, Temür wants to grow with additional licenses, joint ventures, distribution and brand participation in other businesses. He no longer finds classical agency work interesting. “When you have built up the brands, many of them take distribution into their own hands and then you are left out in the rain, if your exit is not carefully planned.” In terms of content, Temür will concentrate on contemporary fashion, streetwear, denim, sportswear and accessories, as well as lifestyle, gastronomy and retail. Digital communication first as Temür says.
He downs another quick espresso and then it’s back to headquarters. By car, of course. Because, thanks to Temür’s good connections, it didn’t get towed away.