As part of the Club Monaco’s Culture Club Blogger Sessions I talked with Benji Kesselbach from the Yolo | store about his favourite places in Berlin and New York, the development of the Berlin fashion industry and his brand new store.
How did you get into the fashion industry?
I first studied sports and economics, then worked for Nike, which very well matched my educational background. Not only did I sell football shoes and basketballs, but also sportswear. Through that I got into the street wear scene, and into the fashion industry as well. However, I have of course always had a certain interest in fashion.
You operate the Yolo agency and the Yolo store together with Laust Frederiksen. How did that come about?
We wanted to work for ourselves, not for others. It was our goal to realize our own ideas. That’s what we’re doing now. We take care of six brands in the Yolo agency, among others A Kind of Guise, Grenson, and Velour. We had the opportunity to rent a Showroom but the facilities were so well-suited that we felt like we had to do boutique-business as well. That’s why wie now work in an agency which is our storeage, showroom, office and boutique at the same time.
How would you describe your personal style?
I don’t think it can be categorized. There are days I feel completely like street wear, then I wear Nike sneakers, baggy jeans, combined with a Wood Wood crew neck. However, on other days I’ll wear Brogues, khaki pants and a shirt. From athletic wear to preppy, it’s all possible.
How do you get inspiration?
A few friends and I try to go out in a different area of Berlin (Kreuzberg, Neukölln, Mitte, Charlottenburg etc.) once a month to get new impressions, feel new vibes, and experience new people. We usually start with a restaurant and then try to have a relaxed end to the night in a bar or a club.
How do you assess the development in the fashion industry in Berlin?
It’s interesting that every season a new fashion fair launches. We’re almost at ten now that are running parallel to Berlin Fashion Week, everyone is trying to find their niche. However, I don’t believe that all those fairs are sustainable at the same time. The wheat will be separated from the chaff. The overall development of the Berlin fashion industry has to be assessed positively. We don’t have to hide from Florence, Paris, New York, or Scandinavia.
Which stores in Berlin do you find exciting?
The SOTO store is definitely setting new benchmarks in the area of men’s fashion. The Wood Wood store and the VOO Store are always an inspiration for me as well. It’s also always worth checking out Mulackstraße where you can find loads of small shops that have a unique range of products.
You also lived in New York City. What are good places to shop in New York City?
Soho is exciting, around Prince Street and Mercer Street there is a lot going on. Henrik Vibskov has his shop there, and you can also find Opening Ceremony in that area. I believe that in Brooklyn, you’ll increasingly find exceptional concepts, such as “Goose Barnacle”, a combination of gallery and store.
What music do you currently listen to?
Not too long ago I bumped into Labi Siffre. That’s basically on repeat at the moment. He makes easy-going soul music. We recently bought a vinyl player and now listen to vinyl records in our store. An interesting experience. A new, or rather, old feeling.
Where should you go out to eat in Berln and New York?
In New York I mostly went to Hudson Clearwater. I couldn’t ttell you how many times I was there within half a year. The Hudson is small, cozy, and the food is great. In Berlin I often go to Dudu.
Where was the shooting done? Why?
The shoot was done on Torstraße. It’s a street that’s gone through an enormous transition. It used to just be this huge construction site with a lot of traffic, now you’ll find exciting stores, the Yolo store among others. I chose that location for the shoot because I spend a lot of time here. Besides my apartment my life currently revolves around Torstaße.
Benji wears for the shooting in his store a “Made in America Topcoat”, a “Basketball Jacket”, a “William Casual Shirt” and a “Samson End-on-End Sweater Tie”.
Von: David Kurt Karl Roth