Berlin Menswear, A.D.Deertz
I have found the ideal business model for me - it is honest, sustainable and unstrained. Everything can be done in the small team with good production partners. The mission here is to create autonomy: our business is independent of seasons and resale to other stores, it abolishes the industry-specific timings, we work with nice people, make good products... and have fun.
We make simple and individual classics of high-quality fabrics with a beautiful feel. The styles remain in the assortment as long as demand exists. Clothes can be reproduced in 2-week intervals, so there is no need for keeping large stock and we can often respond to the individual wishes of our customers.
Fabrics are carefully sourced and combined - mainly from Italy and Portugal (often from industrial overproduction). The choice is actually the most fun and gives the factor of serendipity. There are between about 5-50 pieces per color/fabric. It is important for me not to be a part of the fashion industry. Of course clothing is a consumption product - my idea of resent-day consumption is to buy less and select well.
We where lucky to meet Wibke Deertz in her showroom in Berlin and to talk about her path as an entrepreneur.
The work on A.D.Deertz brand started in year 2000. "That time it was almost embarassing to be capitalistic. We didn't care about money at all. Just did what we wanted." - Wibke says. There were no specific actions that brought success to a brand. It always has to move forward and to have a good time in a process. She manages all businees by her own: "Hard? It isn't easy, but it's okay. I mean that also making clothes is not easy but you just choose your job and then you just do it."
On a previous location Wibke organized music events but she didn't think of them as of a promotional tool. Once she invited some musicians friends of her, and hence they hadn't had any concert for a long time, the street was completely blocked - even tram couldn't pass. "But most of the people didn't care of the clothes, they came for a music. I don't think those concerts influenced my sales. I just find that interesting to live that way."
A.D. Deertz is one of the very few local menswear brands in Berlin that is older than 15 years, and of course it is quite well known. One of the most important psycological points Wibke emphasized, is not to actively reach people. Peopl kind of want to find you and when they do, they will always come back. That's the main takeaway here. "And we don't even have a window, so people see our collection only when they come in. It's a coincidence by the way, I wasn't looking for a place with no windows, but you always have to think of how to use your limitations to the better".
Wibke didnn't ever pay for publications or publicity, and when some celebrity wears her clothes she doesn't show that online: "I think it's kind of embarassing to brag about that someone wears your clothes." Deertz is always open to speaking with journalists and bloggers but doesn't reach out to them. The same approach as with clients: people want to find you and your work is not to ruin that sence.
Everybody in Berlin complains about the rent rise but Wibke doesn't. When she moved to this store in Mitte, this street was very bad for business. Stores opened and closed all the time. But all of a sudden some time after Wibke opened a shop here this street became more like a shopping street. Now she gets traffic, still pays a low rent, but maybe in a few years the rent will rise twice and then she will also be complaining.
Wibke did some collaborations but she says that any of her clients don't know about them anyway. Collaborations could be a source of publicity if Wibke worked on a good coverage but she doesn't do that.
Keep making good quality. Always move. Have a good time.