ONE HUNGRY NIGHT AT MURKUDIS
Blouse, top and shoes Dries van Noten Dress Yohji Yamamoto
Earrings Louise Friedlaender
If Berlin has a voice in fashion it is the one of Andreas Murkudis. It's not a scream but a subtle tone that sticks to your mind and speaks from a gut feeling. A prophet in exile, the former director of the 'Museum der Dinge' opened his first multi-brand store in 2003. Negotiating between the world of art and fashion his clients share an educated desire that seeks out profound products.
The office located close to the store in Potsdamer Straße is an actual flat with high ceilings, stucco and a freestanding tub. Apart from the many desks and chairs, this place doesn’t resemble an office at all. Photoart by the likes of Mitch Epstein and Seiichi Furuya is hanging on the walls and nothing is functional to the point of compromising beauty. Andreas would be there early around 8am and when you left work in the afternoon you would sometimes find the office completely rearranged and reorganized in the morning. He works in silence with a pace that would resemble clouds moving in a calm sky, barely recognizable, yet nevertheless powerful. When he decided to build an online store it came natural, that it was about creating a space of intuition in a highly opportunist digital environment, where people find only what they have been googleing for. Besides the direct path of consumption lie treasures that one must find the muse to come across.
In conversation with Whitelies Magazine, Andreas talks about the future of retail, the status quo in fashion and the concept of leading his customers astray.
Dress, necklace, pullover and shoes Céline Pants Dries van Noten
Earrings Maison Margiela
Andreas, do you buy online?
Anne buys online for me. That reminds me, I still owe her money.
But what about clothes online?
I have never bought anything online. I have enough clothes myself, also I'm not into fashion. But what is the reason for this question?
The reason for this question is the fact that you are about to launch an online shop - and you are in good company: Céline has announced that they are working on a web shop after years of resistance. Why now? Has it become a necessity?
Actually it is not necessary at all. I am still not a fan of selling online. As you can see I am investing all of my time in my physical store here in Berlin - to constantly improve its functionality and beauty. We sell over 30.000 pieces per year, so we financially don't need the digital. The on- line shop for us cannot be a copy-paste of the analog store because we have so many changing products that it would take forever to update the web presence. We would need a dozen of photographers taking images in shifts to make that happen. I am old school and I want that clients come to my shop. The most fun part about my job is to interact with the customers, to really get to know them and be able to get an immediate feedback on my work to then later buy collections with this knowledge in mind.
Blouse, top and pants Dries van Noten Earrings Louise Friedlaender
What does prospering retail look like today?
To succeed in retail today you need to be highly specialized, search for special products and be aware of your role as a mediator between the designer and the customer. What makes your product special? What can it bring to your client? A pair of jeans or sneakers can be bought online because in this case it's a pragmatic purchase. But take for example an Oyuna cashmere jacket, you rarely find them online, also the haptic aspect is missing, you won't feel the quality of the material, you need to experience it. Some of my clients I have known for over ten years now, they are interested in spending their money consciously. We rarely attract people that buy just for the sake of consumption.
What is the concept of your online store?
Our online store in the end is not showcasing products we sell in our store, what you'll find are objects that are seasonless, that mostly come in small quantities. We tried to do something new here. I decided to put pieces from my personal collection up for auction, to make it special. I am happy to share things like the SIX Magazines by Comme des Garçons that have never been on sale to beginn with. That's also why the starting prices are moderate: some pieces start at 20 €, 500 € is the most expensive one for a pair of Raf Simons overlong leather gloves.
Together with the online store you will host four auctions of objects from your personal collection. Is it difficult for you, to let them go?
Not really. I am carrying these things with me for almost 40 years now and I got rid of a lot of it already. Some objects I already collected with the purpose to sell them. I had the idea of a photo book room in my store, now this room is taking place online in the auctions.
An auction of artifacts of fashion history reflects a deep nostalgia that has been present in the creative industry for quiet a while now. It sometimes feels as if fashion is looking for validation in the citation of iconic images.
Fashion has become something very fleeting. Validation is a value in demand. Many people act like they know fashion when in fact they don’t know fashion at all. I wouldn’t mind, but these people do not reflect the changes that the whole fashion industry is currently facing. To me it is questionable why someone soft like Claire Waight Keller is appointed as designer of a heavy label like Givenchy. It has to be okay to ask these questions. I have known Claire for some time. She started with knitwear design at Chanel, then she switched to Pringle of Scotland (a brand Andreas has a long relationship with). At Pringle it didn’t go very well for her. Then, very surprisingly she took the leading role at Chloe multiplying their sales in just one year.
Top Dries Van Noten Skirt Marni
Shirt and pants Marni Shoes Maison Margiela
Lately many creatives from different angles of the industry are taking over the design part and it seems like artistic direction doesn’t necessarily have to match. For example Ion Rogers, the former Apple Music executive, just became the chief digital officer of LVMH. Or lets remember Justin O’Shea for traditional Italian menswear house Brioni who before was a buyer at mytheresa.com with no experience in fashion design at all. Business of Fashion lately argued that editors have become the latest picks as creative directors at design houses due to the increased power of social media and storytelling in fashion.
Maybe it is about storytelling - but apart from the stories around I barely see content in these clothes. Take brands like Vetements, Off-White or Palmangels that are everywhere at the moment. They are not famous for their high-quality product. It’s all about social media and creating news for the media. It feels as if designer shifts and the choice of their creative successors are widely influenced by that. If some- one would ask me to become a designer I would have to recline because I am not a designer. I wouldn’t know where to start. There is a difference in knowing what looks good and making the clothes. People believe the hype. There is barely any critic these days. If people don’t like a collection they just don’t talk about it. Direct criticism has become absent. Everything is just great.
Read the full interview in our latest print issue.
Trench Coat and shirt Céline
German actress Nina Hoss arrived at 8pm at night for the shoot with a little suitcase straight from Italy. Quiet, observing, precise and present. The moment the camera laid an eye on her she would switch on like a lightbulb. We don’t exactly recall what happened next but it was powerful magic.
When Andreas Murkudis agreed to open his infamous store in Berlin Potsdamer Straße at night for the first time in photo history, it was clear that only a woman of class, elegance and integrity could fill the huge white cube halls. Nina Hoss is the ultimate Murkudis woman, to the point that whatever outfit you put on her, she owned it. The German actress stars in Arthouse movies and currently has an ongoing role in the award-winning television series ‘Homeland’.