"I'm looking for a pair of jeans." This sentence is the beginning of Kevin Klemm's work at my-jeans.de. "In my opinion, the most essential part of the jeans business is competent and honest counselling. Furthermore it is important to be able to respond to all different kinds of customers’ desires", he explains. Klemm has been gathering experience selling since he was a child. Two years ago he took over his father's store my-jeans.de in Weiterstadt, Germany. Interview by Samira Mikhail

Why did you open your store? Tell us the story behind it!
I was born into the jeans industry. My parents opened their first fashion shops before I was born and I grew up in these. As a baby, I lay in my Maxi-Cosi on the jeans-shelf. I wore my first Diesel t-shirt at the age of 3! It was always clear to me to work in the clothing business. At the age of 16 I worked at my father’s store, which I took over 2 years ago.

Which is the most important ingredient for successful retailing?
In my opinion, the most essential part of the jeans business is a competent and honest counselling. Furthermore it is important to be able to respond to all different kinds of customers’ desires. When one gives customers the ability to find everything that they are interested in, in one place, one saves them the way from vendor to vendor.

What are your current bestselling labels? Which are your personal favourite items?
Currently labels like Cipo & Baxx or M.O.D are highly in demand, because they are different. Striking thick or coloured seams are something that meets the eye. These labels responded with their decorated jeans to a large group of customers. The advantage of these is that they made this style affordable. However, our currently best performing label is Levi’s. Due to their classic and timeless shapes, Levi’s Jeans have for decades been a part of many wardrobes. Brands that have such a long period of continuity in their program are authentic and build confidence among their customers.
I personally enjoy wearing tops of Superdry and Scotch & Soda and Jeans of Mavi, G-Star and Jack & Jones.

Denim is an important segment for your store, why?
Our store specialises in denim. We believe that denim is an essential part of many daily outfits and therefore it is our aim to give every customer the opportunity to find the best denim for them.

'Our store specialises in denim', says Klemm.
'Our store specialises in denim', says Klemm.

In terms of denims: Which cuts / shapes / washings / colours are most popular at the moment?
For men the tapered fit is still on the rise, but has, as of yet, not arrived at every end user. The casual thigh width is still very unfamiliar to some customers. In some cases the carrot shape remains negative in the head. The customer who avoids the pronounced thigh-look and seeks to wear a very loose fit is pleased with this trend particularly because now he can find pants with a narrow ankle width that also provide enough space in the thigh.
When it comes to washings: less is more. Unwashed jeans are more popular and fashionable than ever before. These are folded and sometimes even a little too high, so the jeans have the impression of being too short. Suitable massive shoes are worn with these, such as retro sneakers or boots. Despite all of this the Straight Cut is still the most popular fit, since many people still do not want a narrower fit in the lower leg.
For women, skinny jeans are the absolute number one. When it comes to colours, the ladies dare much more than the men do. Here there are no limits, from raw, to bleached, to coloured denim; all are in demand. I'm still sceptical about neon coloured jeans, but this may be due to the current winter weather.

Which new labels have you added to your assortment recently?
Due to the increasing demand for “decorated” jeans, we have recently added Cipo & Baxx. At the beginning of this year we started with Jack & Jones as a supplement for our younger male customers who are looking for inexpensive fashion.

Do customers search for favourite brands and special styles or do they buy spontaneously?
Most clients who enter our store start the conversation by saying "I'm looking for a pair of jeans."
Many come without any specific idea of what they are looking for and seek advice from head to toe. Of course, customers also search for specific brands, but it is seldom the case that, after showing different options from other brands, the customer is no longer focused on one specific brand.
Jeans are rarely an impulse buy. The reason for this might be that it is difficult to find exactly the wanted Jeans in our store without any help from our staff; sometimes it is necessary to climb up our ladders 5 metres in order to get the Jeans from the top shelves.

What inspires you, where do you get your information about upcoming trends and brands?
I enjoy being inspired directly on the street. Trends are unfortunately often not predictable more than six months in advance. Often it is difficult to respond to a trend, because this also can only be short-lived. It is therefore all the more important to have manufacturers that can rapidly and flexibly respond and offer products in the short term.

What do you think will be the key-pieces/trends in 2013?
I believe that classics and standards will continue to represent the major part of the products demanded in our store. Items such as chinos or coloured denims are no longer on-trend, but have established a reputation in our store, though they only make up a small part of our range.

How do you stay in contact to your (regular) customers?
I am regularly in the store to sell and advise customers. I can not imagine working in such a customer-oriented industry, to have no direct contact with them. This way I get the unfiltered opinions and preferences of customers.
'Classics and standards will continue' , believes Klemm.
'Classics and standards will continue' , believes Klemm.

What does your shop that others don’t?
Our goal is to find a matching pair of jeans for every customer. That is why we put the counselling in the foreground. Through our wide range of sizes, brands, styles and colours we can adapt to every individuals needs. If we find the product temporarily not in stock, it is possible to ship the item directly home to them.

What do you like about your location and your customers?
At our site I like best the accessibility for customers. The shopping centre where we are has a very large catchment area and therefore the visitors are coming from a large radius and often spend the whole day in the house. Many of our customers are open to new things and rely on our recommendations. I like it very much when I can show somebody that he prefers a pair of jeans that he would himself never had chosen, over a pair he would have originally bought.

How is buying behaviour changing – do people look for classics or specialities?
We have many customers who are looking for classics and find it at our shop. They prefer to rely on well-tried models and labels which they wear for many years, over potentially short-lived trends. For our trend-oriented customers, we also offer a selection of special features, but it is difficult here to cover every single taste.

Do you have an online shop? Do you run any social media activities?
Yes, we do have one. We have sold our products online since 1996, and are therefore probably a pioneer of Multi-channelling. We have come to the conclusion that a combination of online store and retail store is the best for us, and both platforms promote each other. Thus, the customers can inform themselves about our range before their visit and even reserve the desired models.

Is there a role model for your shop? Any store – worldwide – which inspires you?
We often hear from customers that our store brings to mind the magic wand shop from Harry Potter. With our rolling ladders we are more like a library, but such a nice comparison makes us smile.

Store's contact:
Gutenbergstraße 5
64331 Weiterstadt
+49 6151 1535894