Interviews with CORINNE GRÜTER, CHRISTIAN VILLWOCK and YASIN MÜJDECI
We spoke to Christian Villwock, owner of Anita Hass.
In light of recent global events, the rise of sustainability and ethical consumption, how do you see the future of retail evolving? How is your store adapting to meet the changing needs and values of your customers?
Anita Hass is always „Zeitgeist“ so the Mix we are presenting is timeless and an investment in a certain look that lasts. This in combination
with content that inspires you to reinvent your wardrobe and a super positive customer experience on all touchpoints (=channels) promises a strong retail momentum.
You have been one of the early adaptors when integrating e-commerce to a brick- and-mortar retail concept. What are your biggest learnings so far? How do you see technology playing a role in the future of retail? Are there any specific innovations that your store is exploring or implementing?
You should be realistic today about starting and actually running e-commerce. It is a huge never-ending mountain to climb. I started over 15 years ago and was able to learn and improve every day. But you have to be interested in all things digital and willing to work even more and invest not only in digital infrastructure but also in your team. Right now we are working on next-level social commerce and including AI.
In a world where consumer behavior is constantly changing, how do you stay ahead of the curve and continue to offer relevant and appealing products? As a retailer, what steps are you taking to engage with younger generations and appeal to their changing values and preferences?
We are very lucky to have almost four generations as our customers. We also win many young customers through our collaborations and our very famous IG presence. The younger customer wants authenticity and community, the older generation expects authenticity and quality. It‘s all about being authentic as a brand.
Now that Anita Hass’ management is in the second generation, how did the store evolve from the beginning, and what is your vision for the future?
I try to keep the 70s spirit of Anita Hass and combine it with my idea of creating a 360° presence with digital and analog touch points. Our Heart logo represents our culture and is a symbol of how we want to present fashion and what we want to create for our customers. Our vision is to be the first digital address in Europe for independent new luxury.
Can you tell us what was your ‘break through(s)’ since the beginning and how do you see the future of Anita Hass?
Certainly inventing the heart logo and starting and growing with our collaborations. I am very thankful that I was able to keep the original spirit while growing and to create a culture for us where all team members feel important and love to live „Anita“. In our short term future integrating AI will be a huge chance to support our growth and our fantastic team.
SET & SEKT
We spoke to the founder of Set & Sekt, Corinne Grüter.
What's the story behind Set & Sekt? Tell us about the club and store concept and how it came to life. What has changed since its inception?
The idea to open a concept store like this came to my mind when I was 25 during my internship in New York – a transformable store, a symbiosis of selected clothing, accessories and at the same time a place to relax, to share stories and to enjoy life.
In the beginning, we organised get-togethers once a month and invited our customers to spend their Saturday night with us. However, as we moved to a historic building in the old town of Basel, this concept didn't fit anymore. We decided to focus on a more grounded approach; today you can savor a nice cup of coffee or a glass of our own sparkling wine while lingering through the shop and finding some new favorites for the wardrobe.
Can you share any memorable experiences or events that have taken place at Set & Sekt? Is the event part still an important feature of your retail concept?
We can look back on some wonderful events in our 16 years; exhibitions, aperitifs followed by performances and dinner parties. We have even had DJs in our shop window for a well-known architect's birthday party. And the party goes on.
How has Set & Sekt evolved since its inception amidst industry changes? Can you share your journey and highlight the role of technology in shaping the brand?
Needless to say it is important to be up-to-date and not work against technology. The fashion industry has changed a lot since 2000 as well as the general purchasing behavior of our customers. Meanwhile, the variety of brands has increased enormously. Therefore, it is even more important for us to make the right choice for our loyal customers. Just like a curator in a museum, we assemble a selection that reflects our personality, which is very well appreciated.
Looking towards the future, where do you see Set & Sekt heading in terms of growth and expansion? How do you see the future of retail, and what is your strategy for the store?
Deeply convinced that it is way more efficient to keep a focus on just one thing, we aren't too keen on expanding and opening more shops. We rather stay loyal to our hometown Basel and concentrate on our regular customers. However, our online shop with our archive pieces from past seasons is equally important to us.
How do you attract the new generation of customers? How do you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and styles in the fashion industry while also maintaining your unique aesthetic?
For the next generation, we have our own children's collection called JU. We try to supply customers that have kids with minimalist yet durable pieces for their little ones. Also, as mentioned above, we maintain our online shop filled with archive pieces from past seasons that can be purchased at a quite reasonable price for young people. Besides this, we organize a special super sale twice a year to give the new generation the opportunity to get hold of some exquisite pieces at more affordable conditions.
What was your breakthrough? What would you name your breakthrough?
Breakthrough is not quite the right word – people appreciate our hard work and loyalty to them. And our unstoppable passion for aesthetics – the love of well-done clothing and the appreciation of each piece.
We spoke to Yasin Müjdeci, founder and CEO of Voo Store.
Can you describe a breakthrough or turning point for Voo? How would you name it in one word?
Well, there was a moment when we received an invitation from Prada to their show. It was a big deal for us because it was our first major luxury brand collaboration. It made us feel like we had arrived at the right place and was a breakthrough moment where we felt understood and recognized. I would call it the "Recognition" moment, we felt that people truly understood us and saw our value.
It's interesting to hear about your journey. Can you explain the core concept of Voo and how it has developed?
Initially, Voo Store started as a networking hub for creative individuals in Berlin who didn't want to be in Mitte. We wanted to create a place where people could come together, connect, and showcase their products, and at that time there was no place like that in Kreuzberg. We never considered ourselves just a shop, and people started to call us a concept store. Over time, we added elements like a coffee shop out of necessity, as all of our decisions around the store, its design, and functionality never revolve around business decisions but out of our needs. While the core concept remains the same, being a place for people to meet and connect, we have adapted and changed to meet the needs of our evolving community.
Your store is known for hosting events and collaborations. How do you choose which events or collaborations to pursue?
We are inspired by interesting projects and people, not just brands. When someone is doing something unique and engaging, we are drawn to it. We look for projects that resonate with us, and if it inspires us, we pursue it, hoping that our community will also enjoy and feel inspired.
I'm curious about your strategy for attracting and engaging with customers, especially the younger generation.
We don't specifically target different generations at all, and we don't see age as a defining factor. We focus on creating inspiring concepts, content, and using various platforms to connect with people. While different age groups may use different platforms, if something is visually appealing and has a strong vision, it can resonate with people across generations.
What are the key values or motivations of your community when they visit Voo Store?
Our community is largely made up of creative individuals from various industries. The common motivation is inspiration. They come to Voo Store looking for something that sparks their creativity and inspires them, and we aim to do so with our curation of products.
How do you see the role of technology in regard to creativity and inspiration?
Technology plays an important role in enhancing access to information and fast speed, but true creativity and inspiration come from personal knowledge, understanding, and interactions. While technological innovations can help the creative process, I don't think they will replace the essence of inspiration, which comes from human experiences and emotions. It can make our lives easier, faster, and provide new tools, but it doesn't generate inspiration on its own. The combination of personal creativity and technological support can lead to truly innovative ideas.