If you swipe through the #Berlin tag on Instagram, in-between images of lakes and graffiti you'll surely find shots of a well-dressed, canonically hot couple sipping coffee in Voo Store's courtyard.
Voo, along with its archival compact store across the street, is the go-to place for some of the world's most highly regarded brands like Prada, Margiela, and local label GmbH. There's also a curation of up-and-coming designers, books, magazines, and fragrances.
The store is a must-visit for travelers to the city and a frequent hang for the city's fashionable crowds. It's now 10 years old, and weathering the Covid-19 storm with some kinky marketing plans for the future, we caught up with Thibaud Guyonnet, the store's creative director, to see what's in the pipeline for 2021.
Could you outline what being a creative director for a concept store entails?
Most of the creative direction is in the curation and in the buying; in what you want to offer to the customers. We have a kind of creative studio as well, we do all the content in-house. That means I have to pick a team to work with me to select the general communication that we want to have, and the vibe we want to have.
Speaking of vibes, Berlin obviously has a reputation – or it did – have a reputation as a big party city. How do you fit a luxury concept store alongside that?
We don't sell the store as a luxury concept, that's the big difference — we have luxury prices but we're not a luxury store. When you see the team, everyone's between 20 and 30. 80 percent of the team is queer, 90 percent of the team is not German, and the owner is Turkish. We are really connected with Berlin in that way, [which is] why we also keep the respect; we never have people complaining about us gentrifying the neighborhood. That's a real problem for companies that are coming up in the area.
I don't think a lot of people know about the history of Voo. Could you explain how it began?
It was opened by Yasin [Müjdeci] and his brother Kaan in 2010, while they were simultaneously running Kreuzberg's bar Luzia. They were deciding [whether] to open up a retail space or a nightclub. They were renting the bar and were like, "I can't do nightlife anymore. This is already too much." Yasin and his brother were fighting about it in the cab looking at the contracts, and they were like, "Okay, let's do a store." They took over the space's contract and they are still the owners.
We have no investors — all the money that we invest is from our own pocket. We're quite a small team. I think we're at 26 right now, which sounds a lot but when you have an online store, 26 people is not that much.
Voo store has a strong sense of community, how do you cultivate that?
We had this big midsummer event [planned] for this year, but obviously, we had to cancel everything. In the meantime, we're launching an OnlyFans account.
Okay, go on
Well, we were getting reported on Instagram all the time because it's like "oh you're showing a bit too much of skin or a bit too much of pubes." So we said fuck it. We have to find a platform where we can actually do what we want to. It makes sense because we're a bit kinky. We always joke about how sex is very much part of our communication in a not so obvious way. At the office, we are pretty open about this. These are the kind of conversations we have. And I think also, a way to sell a brand is through kink. For example, for me when I buy a look, even if it's just a white T-shirt, I picture myself being like, "Okay. This is going to look hot." There is some kind of connection to be made in your brain.
OnlyFans aside, do you have anything else in the pipeline?
We're doing a project at the Berlin University of the Arts (UDK). I approached them last year as I wanted to support the graduate students by teaching them how to market to stores and how to create that connection. Quite often, once they are ready to enter the world, they don't know how to sell a brand.
I actually wanted to go there and just do a fake Fashion Week where they would have to create a showroom, line sheets, lookbooks, how to write an email, and knowing how to pitch your brand, too. Sometimes, brands reach out to us where it's obviously not a match.
I always talk to students like, "what is your favorite brand?" or, "which brand fits to yours?" Then I tell them to visit that website and check their stockists and reach out to them because if they sell that brand, they will understand yours.
Visit Voo Store here.