How Berlin's Voo Store is Redefining Luxury Retail

How Berlin's Voo Store is Redefining Luxury Retail

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How Berlin's Voo Store is Redefining Luxury Retail

V chats with the buzzy retailer's co-founder Yasin Müjdeci on Voo Store's industrial origins and eclectic present.

V chats with the buzzy retailer's co-founder Yasin Müjdeci on Voo Store's industrial origins and eclectic present.

Text: Matthew Velasco

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"Berlin is an interesting city because Berlin is not commercial, actually. Berlin gives you a possibility to do your own thing."

Since its inception in 2010, Yasin Müjdeci's Voo Store has become a perennial hot spot of fashionable Berliners looking to chicly ruminate amongst themselves and shop the season's latest in fashion, decor, and homeware. Müjdeci, a native of Turkey, initially journeyed to Europe with his sights set on the continent's two booming fashion capitals — Paris and London. Thanks to an unexpected bond with the German capital, Müjdeci located to Berlin where he and his brother ultimately unveiled his now beloved concept store — set in a former locksmith's studio — in the city's uniquely artistic Kreuzberg district.

Bridging the worlds between fashion, consumerism, and experience, Voo Store is a breath of fresh air in the struggling sphere of retail. Stocking a slew of established luxury labels — Acne Studios, Prada, Helmut Lang — as well as hotly rising brands like Isa Boulder and KNWLS, Müjdeci is toying with a fashionable zeitgeist that is centered around must-have pieces and an organic fostered community. Coupled with immersive experiences, like a kitschy coffe bar and an upcoming delicatessen, Voo Store remains on the cutting-edge of luxury retail all the while maintaining its organically collaborative roots.

Below, V chats with Müjdeci on the ins and outs of Voo Store — from his favorite labels to stock to the innate synergy of the space.

V: What was your upbringing and professional experience prior to opening Voo Store?

Yasin Müjdeci: No one is really professional with store, everyone here has a different profession. I think it is something that makes us more real. We are learning everything from doing. I studied political science thinking I want to do something good for the world. But with life, sometimes you can not choose. Something comes and you say, "okay, I'm doing this. It's a good idea." And my destiny is doing something for the world, in this case, not as a politician. And Voo actually started with this idea that we're crazy for fashion. We didn't say, "okay, we want to make a lot of money." We wanted to just do something nice. And that's what happened with Voo Store.

V: What initially drew you to Berlin and why did you choose to open the store in the Kreuzberg district?

YM: Berlin is an interesting city because Berlin is not commercial, actually. And at the same time it is a big city. And now in 2021, if you say somewhere is a big city, it means commercial. And Berlin doesn't fit exactly this explanation, Berlin gives you a possibility to do your own thing. For example, for London or Paris or Tokyo, if you want to realize something, you need to have a lot of money first, an investment or something. But in Berlin it is not like this or was not like this. And when I was in Berlin for school I thought, "okay, I don't want to go Germany first."

I come from Turkey and I did not want to go to Germany because I did not like the culture. I didn't like the language, it's not for me. And I wanted to go to Paris, it's better. And then I was in Berlin, and I think "whoa, Berlin is completely different." It's not like classic German, it's not like Munich, Oktoberfest here. It is totally different and no one drinks beer, it's completely different. It's really multicultural, it's really multi-sexual, it's everything, it's mixed. And there are a lot of possibilities to realize your dream. And I stayed here, I studied. Where I'm living in Kreuzberg is really young and there are so many artists, immigrants, it's really a mixed place. And then I thought "okay, everything is here, but there is no place where all the creative people can go show something, buy something, drink their coffee."

If people want to buy something, they need to go to other corners of Berlin and they hate it. Everyone said, "oh my God, I need to go somewhere and buy a new shirt." But they don't want to go there because they were really happy in Kreuzberg. And after when I said to my friends that I want to open this kind of place, everyone was so happy. No one was saying, "oh my God, what is this, what are you doing?"

V: From employees, consumers, merchandise, or other aspects of the store, why is curating a sense of community important to you as a creative and co-founder?

YM: We are all living here without our families, Berlin is not a place for families. It doesn't mean [that] in Berlin no one has a family, but we all chose to come to Berlin without our friends and families — where we all come from. And then here we need this family again, I think the word family — if you're not real family — you can say it is a community. We need to be under this community, it make us 'Berliners.' Because in this community, we don't say, "oh community is so important, we need to have a community."

No, it's happening really organically because you see similar people like you, they're thinking like you, they don't have a border. There is no border for sexuality, there's no border for nationality. And if you go to Voo, you know there are people thinking like you. Here in Kreuzberg or in Berlin, we are living in a small country, we have people here and we are thinking together, but we don't need politicians for this. It's just how we think and what kind of things bring us together. And this is the community.

V: Voo Store is located in a former locksmith's studio. First, why were you drawn to the space and how have you gone about curating the space?

YM: We don't have our architects or an architect company. All the ideas comes from our community, our friends. For example, one friend is doing the chairs and another one brings something and all of these ideas make the interior. Of course we work with local people here, but in the end we didn't have an architect. I tried to do this, but I think it doesn't work. They don't understand it because we are not a commercial company and they bring all these ideas. We don't want to do their ideas because we know the inside of the place, this old locksmith, and it's really important to keep that. Everything's so organic, even in life, you cannot have a director for everything. I took this place, it was so dirty and so fucked up, but it was the reality of this place, you know? And it was so peaceful. And we didn't really change a lot, we kept everything there. And some people say, "hey, you are the retailer, you need to change something."

They were right, you need better lights and those kind of things. But for us, it was really important to keep everything organic. We don't want to change this place's DNA. And I met some people who worked for 20 years in the [studio]. Before it was a locksmith, it was a glass manufacturer. And they say "how did you do this? You kept everything the same from 20 years [ago], but it looks clean." It was so beautiful, it would be so stupid to change it. And the energy of the place is really important, if you feel it, we give it back. We let it flow and now the Voo Store is there.

V: How do you go about selecting pieces to carry in the store and what types of qualities are you looking for when carrying a brand or certain item?

YM: We have an amazing team for that, and for Voo Store, the most important thing is our buyers. I mean buyer as a word is not so cool. But they are really important and they need to be really creative, not just business-wise, but aesthetically they need to be really creative. I know a lot of buyers from the other stores and I cannot believe it. For example, sometimes they don't check or feel the item, they just sit with the spreadsheet there and they check it. And there's so many stores who want to have the 'best seller.' I hate best sellers. What are the best sellers? I really don't understand this because if something for us is a best seller, it's actually commercial. We need to pay our invoices, but for us, it's really important to have what we really like. And this process is really individual for Voo Store. I am really happy with the team, we can discuss for hours about the products, this is our thing. And how we choose the brands aesthetic-wise is really important, we need to see who the [designer] is.

It's really important that from social media to the [brand's] website it works together nice because fashion is a lifestyle. And you cannot have a brand that just produces, but the rest of everything is fucked up. They need to have a statement, it's really important for the brands. And we have 5 to 10 new brands every season — we are trying but it's not so easy economically. We need to always buy something, to push a lot, and explain to the people. And sometimes it sells very well, the people understand it, but what we are doing is really niche. And we need a balance, really niche and young designers and also some luxury designers, streetwear designers, everything needs to be balanced.

V: Why is it key for Voo Store to curate a mix of established brands, rising labels, and local designers? What are some products or brands in Voo Store that you currently love?

YM: I love LRNCE. LNCRE is a company from Morocco and they do porcelain, I love it. There is this art piece, but you can use it as homeware. But talking about fashion brands, Isa Boulder, everyone is talking about her. I love LAZOSCHMIDL, they're always really inspiring to me, I don't wear it, but they inspire me. And this is really important for us. This season we have ERL, it is a Comme des Garçons brand. They're doing a lot of good stuff. And she changed the name to KNWLS, but Charlotte Knowles. She is also amazing and, of course, Ottolinger. I don't know what's happened with them, but every season Ottolinger is doing better now. We're selling them for the last five years but in the last three years, they're doing amazing. Or maybe we understand the [brand] better now.

V: Does Voo Store have any exciting projects or collaborations coming up that you can share with V?

YM: There are actually two big things. The first thing is for the end of this month, it will be online. We are doing 'Voo Archive.' It is an up-cycling project. If you have something from Voo, that you bought two, three years ago, you send it to us and we buy it from you. And then we put it online again under 'Voo Archive.' Then another things is, the name is not 100%, but it's the 'Voo Deli." We have an amazing coffee corner but we have only coffee, we want to put another different kind of product. If we sell high fashion, we can also sell food, 'high food.'

Credits: Images Courtesy of Voo Store.

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