The German capital of cool, Berlin is one of the most unpredictable, design driven cities in the world.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, which signified Communist reign, Berlin has moved on from a society of uniformed ‘sameness’ to a thriving creative hub – full of individualists. Fashion, film and nightlife epitomise the stadt today, attracting a population of stylish youths and forward thinkers who run rampant the city streets.
Breaking It Down
Youth culture and urban wear are the bulk of the Berliner’s wardrobe, which flips between iconic fashion decades like the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties – for an almost too-cool aesthetic in modern times.
With most of corporate Germany working out of Frankfurt and Munich, working class Berlin – if they indeed work in an office at all – are more the creative agency types with little-to-no-need for wearing traditional suits.
But German’s are outerwear fluent (winter calls for it) and this is where structure and formality creeps its way into everyday style. At the end of the day, the Berlin man is an individualistic and doesn’t conform to any specific trend. Let’s take a look at the hard to pin-point looks walking the Berlin streets of late.
Berlin and grunge go rebelliously hand-in-hand, retaining some of the reckless flavour of the Eighties when east Berliners tore down the great Berlin Wall. Today, the next generation flaunt their freedom with grungy street wear looks in mostly black.
Leather biker jackets or cotton Baracuta Harringtons (made famous by Steve McQueen) found the grunge style, effortlessly layered with black basics – from tees to knits to long-sleeve shirts – paired always with black denim jeans in slim-fit. Red and blacks checks or punk-ish plaids are key signatures of the ‘whatever’ vibe, peeking out as lining of a coat or more offensively as a classic button-down tied irreverently around the waist. Let loose.
Not quite formal enough to be deemed smart casual, the elegantly undressed Berliner thrives on sticking it to the ‘dress code’, working tailored pea jackets and waistcoats over washed out denim, matte leather shoes and scruffy beanies.
Even outerwear gets played around with, as men opt for functional, relaxed parkas or a well-worn knitted jacket cut slightly slouched, over a crisp white button-down and sleek tie. It’s common office attire for the Berlin creative, swapping a felt trilby hat for a snapback cap and his briefcase for a leather backpack. It’s expense, toned down.
While double denim is trend in most fashion cities right now, the Berlin lads are taking notes from the Japanese, working allover indigo ensembles as street wear looks. The classically uncool look of matching denim is pulled-off in Berlin, with a vintage wash cropped jackets down up over blue jeans – broken up by natural hues of brown belt and leather hiking boots.
The other indigo feel comes from denim-look items; most specifically blazers in an unstructured fabrication that eliminates lapels and breast pockets creating more of factory jacket look that suit coat. Keeping the blue tonal emphasises the organic look, over washed-up relaxed jeans and retro sneakers.
When tailoring finds its way onto the Berlin straße, it comes eclectically sharp with all the quirkiness in the details. Age is no barrier when it comes to sartorial style; with unstructured blazers in light cotton fabrics accented by shoved-in-the-pocket silk scarves and oversized bow ties.
Little things like riding gloves for everyday wear and swapping slacks for raw denim jeans, ride well with the Berliner’s mismatching of leather pieces, such as dark brown belts and tan shoes. Statement accessories in zebra-crossing stripes don’t take away from the superior cut and shape of a Berliner’s suit, with defined shoulders and lean lapels worked into classic grey suits. Keep the suit slim and trim – it’s the only thing kept in line like this in Berlin.
Click through the slideshow for key German labels to get the Berlin look.