"I think everybody needs at least one pair of good denim jeans in their wardrobe", says Stephan Swart, owner of Anchor Rebel MC in Hamburg. It's the durability and they way the fabric works that fascinates him. This is why we bets in future on japanese labels such as The One Goods. With his shop, Swart wanted to have an assortment, with "proper quality, good fabric, nice details, not too hip, not too overloaded, fashionable apparel which is easy to combine, that is wearable for longer than just a season and still makes a statement." Interview: Samira Mikhail

Why did you open your store? Tell us the story behind it!
When I moved to Hamburg about five years ago, I just couldn't find a menswear shop where I would go shopping at. In general I think it is very hard to find a proper menswear store anywhere. Most of the stores are too sporty, too classic, too impersonal, or they sell bad quality products at cheap prices. So I started to think about what exactly it was I was missing. I wanted proper quality, good fabric, nice details, not too hip, not too overloaded, fashionable apparel which is easy to combine, that is wearable for longer than just a season and still makes a statement.

What is the most important ingredient for successful retailing?
I think the key for successful retailing is to stick to what you're good at. Don't try to go with every trend, and keep it simple. Go for quality, invest in key items. Don't overload your store, be sure that you've got a strong red line and stick to that line, else Customers get confused and the message gets lost.

What are your current bestselling labels? What are your personal favourite items?
Since my store is still pretty new, it’s quite hard to tell, but Naked and Famous Japanese Denim is really strong, so is Sandqvist for bags and accessories. My personal favourites? Since I've picked everything myself it's pretty hard to tell. Haha! Every item I've selected has got something about it, be it the fabric, the details on them... I am a big fan of the Johnny Love jackets, though. They've got beautiful lines, great details, like the arms that are a couple of inches longer, perfect for taller, skinny guys, like myself and the best thing about them is the garment, they are wind proof and water resistant, great for a city like Hamburg!

Owner Swart is a 'massive denim fan'.
Owner Swart is a 'massive denim fan'.
Denim is an important segment for your store, why?
First of all, I am a massive denim fan myself. There's hardly anything else that creates a bigger smile on my face than a proper worn in denim. It's the durability of the fabric and they way the fabric works that fascinates me most. A good pair of Japanese denim will last you for easily 5 years. I think everybody needs at least one pair of good denim jeans in their wardrobe.

In terms of denims: Which cuts/shapes/washings/colours are most popular at the moment?
Personally, I'm a big fan of raw denim; it gives the denim the possibility to create its own character by the person wearing them. Regarding cuts, tapered and skinny straight legged denim are really strong at the moment.

Which new labels have you added to your assortment recently?
Soon I will upgrade my store with The One Goods, an amazing young Japanese denim brand. Loads of passion and handcraftsmanship has been put into this brand, also I will get So Popular, a great designer from Berlin, as well as Folk, another amazing fashion label from London.

Anchor Reben gives a 'warm and welcoming atmosphere'.
Anchor Reben gives a 'warm and welcoming atmosphere'.

Do customers search for their favourite brands and special styles or do they buy spontaneously?
Due to the mix of brands, known designers next to smaller upcoming designers, some of them exclusive to Hamburg or even northern Germany, there's a lot of space for inspiration and spontaneity.  Even if you are looking for a certain piece or brand, there's always something new to discover.

What inspires you? Where do you get your information about upcoming trends and brands?
Inspiration is everywhere. You just need to look around with the eyes of a kid and question everything. A magazine I can highly recommend, though, is The Heritage Post. A great menswear magazine, also available at my store ;-)

What do you think will be the key-pieces/trends in 2013?
There is definitely a trend for Japanese denim, raw denim and straight, slim cuts with selvedge seams. In general bottoms stay slim and tops are becoming more relaxed. Straight shirts, Pullovers and T-Shirts with lower round necks are also on trend. Another big inspiration is heritage workwear.

Anchor Rebel is 'small and very personal', says Swart.
Anchor Rebel is 'small and very personal', says Swart.
How do you stay in contact with your (regular) customers?
I'm working on my new website which will be launched at the end of this month. Another strong tool is Facebook. My page is updated on a regular basis with information about events, sales, etc. Customers are able to drop questions or posts. I don't want to overload my Customers with information; I know stores that drop newsletters three times a week. Customers should be able to decide for themselves when and how much they want to hear about me.

What does your shop have that others don’t?
My store is small and very personal. It all starts with the lovely decorated shopping window, followed by the warm and welcoming atmosphere when they enter my store. I treat my costumer the way I want to be served, I let them take their time, if they have questions, I'm more than happy to help and to share my passion for the clothes I'm selling.

What do you like about your location and your customers?
I used to work in this part of the city before and I have loved it from the beginning. It's a very nice mix of different people, cultures, small boutiques, bars and restaurants. There's a massive flea-market every Saturday that also attracts loads of interesting people and tourists. Twice a month I went to every single store in this street to ask if they knew somebody who's moving out soon, telling them that I've got a great concept that would fit perfectly in here. Three months later it worked out.

How is buying behaviour changing – do people look for classics or specialities?
People have started to realize that spending money on items that don’t even last a single season is bollocks. They want proper quality, even if it costs a bit more.

Do you have an online shop? Do you run any social media activities?
I use Facebook as my tool and soon my website will be online. An online shop has never been an option for me, since I want to stay in personal contact with my Customers. That's a big part I like about my job, so why give this up? If people from outside of Hamburg have seen something they want to order, they just drop me a mail and I make it happen. ;-)

Is there a role model for your shop? Any store – worldwide – which inspires you?
Hard to say, I like heritage stores, flea markets, small boutiques, stores with a bit of attitude, away from the commercial mainstream.

Store's Address:

Anchor Rebel MC
Marktstr. 27
20357 Hamburg
+49(0)170 5880 565

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