Nestled in Berlin’s central Mitte gallery district, where monochrome utilitarian dressing is de rigueur with local artistic types, the colourful presence of fashion boutique Konk certainly goes against the grain. This doesn’t bother proprietor Edda Mann: “Since this is my store, I can fill it with the pieces I love,” she says. “Why would I want to do what everyone else is doing? My advice to young designers is always: ‘If you have a crazy idea, do it. Don’t try to be commercial and feed the market; it’s already overfed.’”
Mann has been following her feelings, curating a trove of women’s clothing, jewellery and accessories since 2012, when she took over the reins of the then nine-year-old Konk from its original owner, designer Ettina Berrios-Negrón. She quickly decided to focus exclusively on labels based in the German capital. “I am very strict with myself about stocking only Berlin brands. This city has so much to offer and I think it’s important to represent that.” Mann should know: she grew up in East Berlin among the designers and artists who were drawn to the city’s creative scene post-reunification in 1990. She trained as a costume designer, then as a tailor, before taking on the role of shopkeeper.
The designers Konk stocks tend to eschew trends in favour of “great ideas”, explains Mann. Anntian, the label founded by Anne Hilken and Christian Kurt in 2006, is known for its perennial boisterous prints inspired by works of art and is represented this spring by floaty, digital-print silk dresses (from €475). Berlin-based Austrian designer Marina Hoermanseder, meanwhile, is breaking the mould with her trademark technique of shaping leather to create sculptural-looking clothing and accessories; her bucket bags (€550) covered in bondage-inspired straps come in a variety of juicy pastel shades.
While Mann doesn’t believe in trying to cater to the everyman – or woman – there is a clever balance of styles among Konk’s offerings. The more eye-catching elements – slim knitted cardigans (€355) covered with vibrant prints by Tiedeken and photographic print silk scarves (€220) by Hui Hui – are balanced by more demure pieces. There are tailored fitted grey trousers (€239) by Isabell de Hillerin, who combines clean cuts with natural fibres woven in Romania and Moldova, and feminine silk blouses (from €350), in dark blue and rose pink with tiered detailing, by the shop’s newcomer, Kazakhstan-born Marina Schwan.
Jewellery is showcased on wooden plinths in the centre of the space and ranges from the simple, architectural lines of Japanese designer Naoko Ogawa’s necklaces (€170-250), to the tongue-in-cheek 3D-printed wares of Nitz and Schieck, whose sculptural interpretations of cocktail rings come in nylon (€39) and gold plate (€249). Elizabeth Leflar’s earrings (from €35), with their delicate brass and silver shapes, are a personal coup for Mann: “I followed her on Instagram for ages and loved her jewellery, but she lived in Portland, in the US. One day she wrote to me to tell me she was moving to Berlin. I replied, “Great, now I can stock you in my shop!’”