As I queued in line to get onto the plane from a 'please excuse us; we're under construction' Luton airport, I noticed that, peppered amongst the usual businessmen and women, were some very stylish people. Some were immaculately preppy, some looked like 50s rockers, and some had nailed the lumber jack/outdoorsmen look. There were plenty of tattoos, well coiffed hair and beards. Mostly it was understated cool; it was all very considered.
Obviously, everyone was heading to Berlin to visit Selvedge Run. The Selvedge Run is where the Heritage and Craft movement meet in Berlin. It's a trade show for quality menswear and crafted goods, where the great brands like Red Wing Heritage and Filson rub shoulders with smaller up-and-coming brands. Regardless of their size, the exhibitors all believe in authenticity and quality, with craft at the core of their business; hence the line, "Focus on the Good".
I was meeting my friend Dirk and some of his friends to visit the show. Dirk is one of those guys who really does know everyone, and connects people with an enthusiastic and easy manner. He's worked with many of the brands, and everyone is happy to see him.
We got to the show late on the Tuesday, but managed to catch up with some of the exhibitors and one of my favourites, Sports D'Epoque who produce vintage cycling and rugby jerseys; they were delighted that I'd visited their shops in Le Marais when I was in Paris last year.
We met Shane Brandenburg, who's responsible for Exhibitor Relations and also the founder and buyer for Burg & Schild, the coolest clothing shop in Berlin, and one that I had the pleasure of visiting on my last trip to the city. We spent some time with Sébastien Chirpaz of A piece of Chic. He hand silk screen prints some amazing scarves, including a very intricate commemorative limited edition one for BMW Motorrad.
At the opening night party the beer was flowing, and everyone was meeting up with old friends and making new ones. I bumped into a friend I made on my last trip to Berlin, Kornelius, who runs the creatively curated concept store Soul Objects
We then all squeezed into Dirk's car for the journey to Clärchens Ballhaus which was one of the last buildings still standing after the allies bombed Berlin. Stepping into it is like stepping back in time; it hasn't been restored, and the scars of its age, from the Nazis to the Stasi, are evident everywhere.
Downstairs is the restaurant dancehall, where they serve large beers and the best schnitzel in Berlin; I'm no expert, but it was exceptional. As we sit down, we notice that the Clutch magazine team and Linda from Son of a Stag are sitting next to us, enjoying the very authentic experience of the dancehall. It's a fantastic atmosphere, with couples of all ages dancing to electronic ballroom style music. However, the really special experience of this place was to be found upstairs, past the bent and buckled bomb survivor of a light fitting.
As we quietly walked up the eerily cold, stone stairs we could hear classical music, then, through large glassed double doors, we entered the war torn splendour of the mirrored ballroom. Here again, couples of all ages were elegantly ballroom dancing. Pierre and I stood in awe; it was a truly wonderful experience and quite surreal.
As we were having such a great time Dirk decided we needed just one more drink in a very special place. We entered the busy and bustling Paris Bar restaurant; it was heaving. The walls and ceilings were covered in art donated to the restaurant by artists in lieu of payment for their meals, as well as work from artists that felt they should be on the walls too.
The next day we headed back to Selvedge Run.
The exhibitor halls were all busy, we went over to the men's file/Clutch magazine stand to say hello to Nick Clements. It's always good to catch up with Nick, as he's been a supporter of The Obsessive from the beginning. Both Nick and Pierre were wearing the same Moleskin Sheriff Breeches by Black Sign
Probably the three key publications for the Heritage phenomenon are men's file/Clutch magazines and the German magazine The Heritage Post. I was lucky enough to be introduced to Uwe Van Afferden, the founder and publisher, who was wearing a fantastic corduroy suit, as well as Annika Tenhaeff, who was running The Heritage Post stand. The magazine is now available in English, and Annika insisted that I have the English edition in English. The Interior Post magazine ia also excellent but only available in German at the moment.
The stand that caught my attention the most was Noodles Noodles and Noodles Corp. They produce beautifully simple functional furniture from steel and wood. It has a pleasant industrial look to it too. They supplied the show with all the stand furniture. I had a long chat with Christian and Wolfgang about how they make their furniture in Germany from steel and the oils they use to bring out a very distinctive look and feel to the sustainable pine they use. I got a bit obsessive about their kitchen cabinets.
As Pierre, Dirk and myself moved around the halls everyone was extremely friendly and chatty, we moved slowly and happily around all the exhibitors. Pierre is the founder of Rocker Speed Shop in Paris and has just launched his own line of exquisite motorcycling jackets under the brand name Les Motocyclettistes and everyone wanted to talk to him about them. The attention to detail and the quality of the Japanese leather is truly amazing.
The day flew by and before I knew it, I was literally running for my plane with the wheels of my Rimowa whistling through the departure lounge. Taking my seat on the packed plane, I breathed a sigh of relief and thought about yet another incredible Berlin experience. It was freezing cold outside but I was received with only warmth and friendship. I also love the way the Germans swear in English, they love to swear and because they're German they're good at it, they're funny too.