With a background in the Bread & Butter / 14oz. and later Selvedge Run universe, Daniel P. Werner is more than a familiar face to many in Europe’s denim and urbanwear industry. At the beginning of the year, Werner took over the role of ‘Buyer Denim & Urban’ at the prestigious KaDeWe Group of luxury department stores. And his new employer has ambitious plans for his segment: Thursday night saw the opening of “The Storey”, a dedicated urban, street and casualwear area in Munich’s Oberpollinger with a roster of exciting men’s, women’s and sneaker brands stretching from AGOLDE to Wood Wood, from Champion to YMC. We spoke to Werner about the new concept, how to create an exciting assortment and how much time he really spends “on the road”.
Tell us the idea behind the new Storey concept.
With The Storey we have created a concept store for urbanwear within the department store Oberpollinger. It’s an own world showcasing the personal view of the KaDeWe Group on a young, resp. young living urban target group.
How can department stores survive in 2016 – what are you doing to free the dust from the retail concept’s rather traditional and slightly rusty concept?
Customers have countless opportunities to compare and consume products these days. What they cannot find everywhere is the shopping experience at The Storey. We convince our customer with a targeted and unique shopping experience. Our unusually curated assortment stretches from a Japanese Ramen restaurant (starting next year) up to a special framework program including resident DJs and much more. The Storey is communicating an attitude to life. It’s not only a “store to buy” but a “store to stay”.
You are one of Germany’s most well-known buyers in the denim/urbanwear field. How much do you actually buy, like: What’s your budget, how many brands, styles and square meters of retail space do you account for?
I create the portfolio in close co-work with my team. Naturally we are constantly exchanging ideas and information with our category management and our buying director Simone Heift. The Storey in Munich has a net sales space of 1,900 square meters. Additionally I account for the denim departments of all three houses (KaDeWe, Oberpollinger, Alsterhaus) – it’s hard to put a number to their total size as there are constantly modifications and area shifts. In total, me and my team oversee about 220 brands.
How often are you scared that your order sheet doesn’t match your customer’s demands in the end?
Being self-confident is extremely important in this job. You should be certain to bring along the necessary skills to create a successful brand portfolio. In this very speedy fashion industry, doubts are only slowing you down.
Have you ever ordered something (a style or brand) that didn’t work out at all? What was it?
There are always brands which are less commercial than others but which help to strengthen the statement of the portfolio.
Which brands are you putting the greatest hopes in for this winter / the coming spring season? With its key-styles and collaborations, Adidas does probably have the most commercially promising products at hand. The same thing goes for Puma, especially in the women’s field. Next to their omnipresent MA-1 bomber jacket, Alpha Industries has created an exciting jacket collection in which I put a lot of hopes, too.
Any newcomer brands that you added to the assortment that we should watch carefully?
The increased strive for quality and sustainability is also finding its way into the sneaker business. Locally produced, young resp. revived brands such as VOR-Produkte or Bruetting design luxury sneakers whose price points are justified by their quality and processing of materials. Moreover, both offer an outstanding design, too.
In the textile field, I am very curious to see how Non Conformist, a newly created streetwear label from Japan, and Benzak Denim Developers, a young Amsterdam denim brand, will develop.
Which trends (silhouettes, materials, colors, footwear and denim styles etc.) do you most strongly believe in for this winter / the coming spring season?
Of course, tight denim and pants shapes are still very successful commercially, but wide shapes are gaining momentum!
In terms of sneakers, sustainability and quality are increasingly important – in a field where these key words hardly played any role so far.
Typically for the winter season, heavy, voluminous and structured fabrics are exciting. I don’t want to commit myself to colors, but I can say that pastels and earthy tones have ruled the showrooms.
How much of your time are you traveling?
As we are buying sneakers, skateboards, clothing, gadgets, luggage, home products, accessories and more for The Storey plus denims for three department stores on top, it’s always order season for me. That means I am on the road for about two thirds of the year.
Which fashion show grounds/city do you find most inspiring?
My current favorite cities are New York, Paris und Berlin. New York has always been a ground zero for new tendencies and trends in the urban and street wear world.
And there’s extremely much happening right now in Paris. There are exciting retail concepts and a vibrant scene. Also, I write the main share of my orders in Paris.
Berlin is simply Berlin. Still the cheapest of all capitals, it magically draws creatives from all over the world and all industries. It works as a melting point, still constantly spitting out new things and it definitely has the most exciting night life.
Which other things/places/cultures/media do you look at for trend inspiration?
For me, night life is extremely important to discover new things. And of course, art, culture and music are a constant source of inspiration. Additionally, I follow a few blogs and read a broad range of design, urban and street culture and fashion magazines.
What is it that people can find in The Storey that they couldn’t find online?
The consistency of a luxury department store group implementing a concept like The Storey is offering unequaled opportunities. Getting a 360 degree view on the urban fashion world on such a big retail space is unique. And of course we do have a few brands in the portfolio which are hard to find or which we sell exclusively in Europe.
Who do you trust when making your orders: your guts or your excel sheets?
I mainly trust my guts and re-assess each brand anew every season. Of course my Excel sheets are important and sort of built the frame work. But if they were predominating it all, my buying would be boring and comparable.
The Storey at Oberpollinger
Neuhauser Straße 18