Berlin (Steglitz) 2018 – feisty Miniso next to Uniqlo

What’s retail doing in Berlin’s up-and-coming Steglitz area in 2018?

Here is a little update:

On the large and long shopping Street of Schloßstraße in the South of town, a remarkable little shop has opened up and is situated right next to Uniqlo.

The shop is called Miniso and when I first passed it, I had to do a double-take as I was sure it must be a Muji store, or was it a new establishment by Uniqlo? It’s very hard to tell at first glance as the logo, its colour and typeface is very similar to those famous Japanese Brands.

The Miniso logo – does it remind you of anything?

I stopped by this shop and looked inside. It looks very much like a Muji store with little items for personal care or the home. Below the logo it even states that this is a “Japanese Designer Brand.”

Inside the Miniso store in Berlin Steglitz.

So what is this mystery store? Well, according to thelowdown the retail brand describes itself as:

“Established in Tokyo, MINISO, the Japanese fast fashion designer brand. MINISO pursues a “simple, natural and quality” life philosophy and a brand proposition.”

But other sources report that MINISO is founded by Chinese, run by Chinese, and headquartered in Guangzhou, China. It uses the name of a Japanese graduate Miyake Junya from the famous Bunka university in Tokyo as one of the founders, but reportedly this person is more a PR stunt it seems.

Miniso’s branding looks like a combination of Muji, Daiso and Uniqlo. From the goods they sell, to the design of their stores, even down to their logo, they have a very Uniqlo look to it. They started in 2013 and have been expanding aggressively and globally:

According to their own website, they have opened 2600 stores around the world within four years. By 2015, MINISO’s global revenue reached USD 750 million and is expected to grow to USD 1.5 billion by the end of 2016. In 2017, the sales volume of MINISO reached USD 1.8 billion.

And unlike pseudo-Japanese brand Superdry, Miniso is not shy to establish itself in the country which they emulate. It has shops in Japan and products even feature Japanese writing, as one would have seen on Muji labels. However it is said to be grammatically often incorrect because the brand uses a free online translation tool.

As I passed the store, I wondered how ethically correct it is to blatantly copy the successful competitors and even position the store in Berlin’s Steglitz right next to someone it is copying, namely Uniqlo.


Other remarkable things on Schloßstraße is the now defunct but trendy “Bierpinsel” tower which is rumored to soon house a restaurant or bar again. It reminded me of the Nakagin Capsule complex in Tokyo which I blogged about in the past.

Bierpinsel Tower in Steglitz has been spray-painted by an artist not long ago. It stands empty as far as I could tell but is rumored to soon house a restaurant or bar.

Let me know your thoughts and in the meantime, greetings from Berlin!


Sonic branding for fashion

AS I am researching this topic to include in my lecture next week, I want to share some interesting things I have found out with you, my dear readers.

Sonic branding – it is the stuff our windows PCs are made of when we start it up, what makes (some of) us love McDonald’s or know that a 20th Century Fox movie is starting. Yes, these are all familiar sounds, forever engraved in our minds and representative of the brands they are attributed to.

But how does it work for fashion? Fashion rarely makes use of repetitive jingles, perhaps because fashion is built on the concept of always presenting something new, something fresh, something yet unthought of. However, fashion DOES use music to its full advantage! Think of the famous Levi’s commercial which my dear friend John Altman arranged the music for.

“Levi’s Engineered Jeans were promoted in 2002 in “Odyssey”, a TV commercial that has come to be known as a classic. A young man (played by French actor Nicolas Duvauchelle) opens a door, steps back and emotionally prepares himself for the odyssey. And then he runs. Through the door, through the wall of the next room, and the room after. As he continues to burst through one empty room after another he is joined by another runner, a woman (played by Antoinette Sugier). Finally they stop, breathless. They catch a glance at each other, preparing for the next stage of the journey. It’s through the exterior brick wall, out into the forest, up the trees and into the sky. The text: “Levi’s Engineered Jeans. Freedom to move.”.” (Levi’s ‘Odyssey’ was the first major project delivered by special effects production company Framestore CFC since its inception at the end of 2001.)

The beautiful music was produced by Jeff Wayne and arranged by John Altman. The music is Handel’s ‘Sarabande’ from the Suite in D minor for solo harpsichord. John Altman employed a late-classical chamber orchestra — 22 strings, flute, clarinet, bassoon, three French horns and timpani.

This is a classic example of fusing – erm, classical music with fashion to get a very specific brand experience across.

But now lets fast forward a decade and a half to 2016, when Uniqlo (one of my favourite Japanese brands) made a fantastic music video to accompany their flagship store launch in London on Oxford Street. The campaign is created by Faster Horses and what they managed to do in this commercial is to capture the very unique spirit of London through visuals and sound. They used a German DJ named Konstantin Sibold: [this has a great sound cloud link so you can sample his art] for the music and 8 individual dancers whose sequences were choreographed by Lukas McFarlane. They actually used derelict buildings and passages with graffiti all over London to make it authentic, unique and more cutting edge.

I hope the link works and you can watch their “This way to Utopia” commercial and I would love to hear your thoughts on this. What emotions does the video evoke? What do you make of the soundtrack?




How to teach fashion when you’ve stopped believing in fashion?

Dear blog visitors! I’ve just published an article on the website Worn Through and would like to give you a little preview here. It deals with the disillusionment that can happen when you work in the fashion industry.

To access the full article, please click on the link below!


Fashion. It is a world of glitz and glam, fairy tales and extravaganza. Modern fashion of the last few decades needs the combination of creativity, smart business strategies and lots of hype in order to exist. I used to be someone who just loved loved loved loved! the new it-bag which retailed at GBP 500, or absolutely had to have those high heels fresh off the catwalk which only the coolest fashionistas of the world’s capitals knew about. Attending amaaaazing fashion shows, running my own small label and doing my very own shows, mixing with the “right crowd” and following the most important trends used to be my thing when I was younger.

Grace Coddington

A make-believe fashion shoot by Grace Coddington for Vogue.

At some point, however, I learned that this is a deceptive industry, a huge, multi-billion-dollar business, selling us a world of luxury, make-believe, unattainable beauty and dream aspirations. It’s not all gold that glitters, you can say, and it can be equally unfair on the consumers as well as on the creators.

Read full article here: