ISLA began out of necessity — the store’s founder wanted to get her nails done. Shortly after moving to Berlin from Amsterdam, Charissa Chioccarelli found out that the nail trends she was used to following abroad weren’t available in Berlin. “I was always into those really long fake nails. I saw them everywhere on Instagram but I couldn't find a place to get them here,” she says. “I tried to explain what I wanted but they either said ‘Yes we can do it’ and then fucked it up —  that or the salon just straight-up refused.”

Instead of suffering through sub-par manicures, Chioccarelli decided to open her own salon. Recruiting her nail technician Maddy Ayers from London, ISLA offers nail art, shellac, and extensions (aka everything you need to get those Insta-ready Cardi B-esque nails).

Because she wasn't sure if a nail salon alone would be a big draw in Berlin, Chioccarelli decided to combine the salon with a women's focused streetwear store. “I'm very into streetwear but all the shops are always focused on men," she explains. "So I wanted to create a female-friendly environment where we do nails, sell streetwear, and put on events."

While ISLA is aimed at women, anyone who’s into streetwear won’t be surprised to hear that a lot of the brands stocked are designed for men. "A lot of women who were streetwear buy men's items, but the clothes are always shown on men," she says. "The collection is created for men, the campaign is shot on men, everything is focused towards men."

"I want to shoot all the products that ISLA stocks on women, to really show it on the female body,” she explains, citing how hard it can be to figure out your size when you’re shopping across gender lines.

However, Chioccarelli doesn't have a problem stocking — or wearing — men's clothes, she'd just like the scene to recognize that women are consumers of streetwear too. “I just like the men's fit. For me personally, brands can be unisex or even just for men, but they should market it to both genders.”

ISLA stocks a mix of established labels like OBEY and FILA along with up-and-coming European brands like Namilia, Daily Paper and Alles Berlin. Surprisingly, customers have been really receptive to the smaller brands: "People come in and say, ‘I want to go to Berghain tomorrow. Do you have an outfit for me?'" Chioccarelli says. Then they end up leaving with a piece by Alles Berlin, a "clubwear" brand that's practically made for the iconic venue.

Being a place where you can wander in off the street and ask for advice is an integral part of ISLA. In contrast to the often-intimidating high fashion stores, or the male-centric skate stores, ISLA is dedicated to creating a welcoming community for women.

ISLA regularly hosts events, from flea markets to exhibitions in collaboration with local brands and artists. Soon, the store will host DJ workshops, though the CDJs in the store are currently open for women to practice on.

Chioccarelli DJs in her spare time so she knows how difficult it can be to actually find equipment you can use to hone your skills. "If you want to practice as a DJ you have either have to take on gigs or know someone with CDJs, and they're pretty expensive," she explains. "I posted in one of these female DJ groups on Facebook, and already a couple of girls came in to practice."

ISLA has only been open for six months, but Chioccarelli has big goals. “It always sounds a bit corny, but I want it to be a ‘safe space’ for women. Everyone is welcome, I don't want to exclude anyone, but it's very much focused on women and those who identify as women,” she says.

“Of course, at the end of the day we're a store, but I also really appreciate it when people just come in to DJ, or hang out — I just want people to come in and not give them the feeling that they have to buy anything.”

Simply put, Chioccarelli tells me that she wants ISLA to be “a cool hang out space for women.” From what we can see, she's well on her way.

In other fashion news, Fendi goes overboard with Kanye West’s once-favorite logo for FW18.

  • Photography:Ahmed Chrediy / Highsnobiety
  • Featured Image:ISLA

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