A few days ago I spent the day in Szczecin (or “Stettin”, as it is called in German), a city in Poland which is located very close to the country’s border with Germany. From Berlin, Stettin is an easy day trip (the direct train takes just 1 h 50 minutes!) so I like to visit every once in a while.
In this case I hadn’t been to Stettin for a couple of years so I used the opportunity to do some store checks (Rossmann, Douglas, Sephora, Hebe, Drogeria Natura, Dayli, Carrefour, Auchan), keeping an eye out for new beauty brands (organic and otherwise!) and also checking on the organic food situation while I was there.
On my recent trip to Budapest I had been surprised by the strong presence of Vegan and Paleo foods in the city (check out my store profile of Bio-Barát) so I was on the lookout for similar developments in Stettin. And I did find something interesting: Vegananda, a charming little Vegan store and café which was opened exactly a year ago.
If you’re following me on Instagram you’ll know that last weekend I was in Budapest. I had a fabulous time there; if you like coffee and books, it’s the ideal city! Antiquarian book shopping along Muzéum körut (one of my absolutely FAVOURITE book streets!), sampling espressos in various Budapest cafés, eating roast duck with red cabbage and dumplings, discovering the amazing variety of Tokaj wines and, of course, I also spent hours in various drugstores and supermarkets doing store checks! And whilst doing so, I came across a very interesting domestic health food retailer: Bio-Barát.
I was walking around Shibuya today (my must-visit stores in this area include Cosmekitchen in Hikarie department store, the big Tokyu Hands and, of course, design depato Loft Shibuya!) and saw this interesting example of gender-specific retail: Its’ Demo is a fashion/beauty store chain aimed at an exclusively female demographic.
Yesterday I visited Basel, a city in German-speaking Switzerland. Basel is just one hour by train from Freiburg in Southern Germany (where I am currently staying) so it’s a perfect day trip. I hadn’t been to Basel for several years so I walked around the historic city center for a bit and then visited Fondation Beyerle to check out the new Jean Dubuffet exhibition. I also discovered a fabulous chocolate store: Xocolatl!
I arrived in Taipei a few days ago and one of my first visits was to MasKingdom’s flagship in the city’s trendy Ximen area. I had written about this unique Taiwanese face mask manufacturer last November during my first visit to Taipei – you can read the post here.
[EDIT 29/04/2017: Unfortunately the store has closed down. Thanks to nn for the info!]
I did notice that MasKingdom masks are now appearing in a number of Asian online shops so it looks like the brand is doing very well. When I visited the store I was yet again struck by the beauty of MasKingdom’s Taiwanese Aboriginal mask series – probably the brand’s best-known range – and decided to buy a mask set.
Another interesting store which Julia from Beautyjagd and I visited last week was Beauty Library in Omotesando, just off Aoyama-dori street. Beauty Library opened in June 2015 and is run by Japanese beauty company Nature’s Way.
The retail concept for Beauty Library was created by renowned Japanese design agency Nendo: a concept store presenting organic and natural cosmetics like library information, with an attached café serving healthy foods and beverages.
And Beauty Library is indeed a beautiful store with a generous glass-fronted entrance, plenty of light and free-standing wooden product shelves that really do look a bit like library shelves.
I arrived in Tokyo a couple of days ago and it’s lovely to be back! It’s also turning into a busy week again: Tokyo Design Week starts in a few days – look out for a show review soon! – and I’ve already started to check out my favourite beauty stores to see what’s been happening in the last six months.
My friend Julia from organic blog Beautyjagd is also in Tokyo at the moment and she suggested we visit the new Ainz & Tulpe drugstore across from the East Exit of Shinjuku Station. Which is what we did – and what a fabulous store it turned out to be!
During my last visit in Tokyo I had checked out a couple of smaller Ainz & Tulpe outlets in Shinjuku and Shibuya. Yes, I did notice the difference to the traditional Japanese drugstore retailers like Sun Drug, Matsumoto Kiyoshi etc. – Ainz & Tulpe stores are much more stylish with good product presentation and a modern store layout – but other than that the chain didn’t leave a lasting impression.
However, the chain’s new Shinjuku store is in a different league altogether. It was opened in July 2015 and is quite spectacular – three floors with a total retail space of 1,290 sq m. Located opposite the East Exit of Shinjuku station, close to Lumine Est department store, Ainz & Tulpe’s new Tokyo flagship offers a fabulous selection of Japanese and international beauty brands, gadgets, fragrances and something that I’ve only seen at Tokyu Hands so far: regional cosmetics from Japan. Click on the link below for a pictorial tour of the store and more info on the Ainz & Tulpe chain.
[EDIT: 6/5/2017 – the Belport chain is now called A.G.B. (Art Goût Beauté). The flagship on Garosu-gil has also changed its name to A.G.B. The ground floor of the store still has a Jo Malone shop-in-shop but makeup brands have gone, instead there is what appears to be a MAC shop-in-shop. The spa in the basement is still there; the first floor was unfortunately closed for renovation. I think the brand portfolio might have been adjusted too, so the information in this store profile is probably no longer correct. I’m not sure why Belport reinvented itself; if anyone can shed any light on this I’d be grateful!]
[EDIT: 7/5/2019 – A.G.B. has now also gone from its location on Garosu-gil – the store name has disappeared and although there is still a shop in Belport/A.G.B.’s former retail space it’s not a perfumery any more. Which means that this store profile is now completely obsolete! Or an interesting historical document, take your pick : )]
A few days ago I visited Korean perfumery chain Belport’s flagship store in Seoul’s trendy Garosu-gil street. Garosu-gil in Sinsa neighbourhood is known for its designer boutiques, uber-stylish cafés and concept stores.
It is also one of the latest hotspots for beauty in Seoul: over the last five years or so a number of Asian and Western beauty brands have opened stores there, including Melvita from France, Kiehl’s from the US, Lush and Neil’s Yard Remedies from the UK and premium Korean brands Su:m37 and The History of Whoo.
Domestic beauty chains The Face Shop, Banila, VDL, Clio and Skin Food have also opened outlets along Garosu-gil, and there are several drugstore retailers including Olive Young, Watson and LOHBS. And exactly one year ago, Belport opened its very first store on this street.
Here are some of my Mintel articles from the first half of the year:
The February cityscape was about German premium department store group Kadewe Group. Kadewe Group (which was sold to Italian department store chain La Rinascente this summer) has launched three signature city fragrances – 030 Berlin, 040 Hamburg and 089 Munich – which were developed by Frau Tonis Parfum, one of my favourite Berlin perfumeries.
In early 2015, Berlin’s Soho House – the Berlin dependance of London’s famous Soho House private members club – opened a store slash café slash creative space slash co-working area. My March article was about this new location: The Store is open to everyone (unlike the rest of Soho House) and features a café (their coffee is supplied by Berlin’s Bonanza Coffee Heroes), large retail area (designer fashion, accessories and other stuff), beauty salon (hairdressing, manicures and pedicures), comfortable sofas and free wifi. A good café choice if you’re in that neighbourhood of Torstrasse.
My April article was about Nickerchen, Berlin’s first power-napping store which opened in December 2014. Nickerchen (the German term for “small nap”) is the brilliant idea of Irina Ivachkovets. You can rent day beds for 10, 20 or 30 minutes; Irina also offers a range of massage treatments, there are early-bird and after-work yoga sessions and once a week she organises a popular salsa dancing night. Nickerchen is a great example of a new type of urban spa – well, you can read all about that in the PDF. Nickerchen is at Zimmerstrasse 27 near Checkpoint Charlie; check it out if you’re in the area.
And the May cityscape was another store profile: Miriam Jacks, one of Berlin’s most high-profile makeup artists, has opened a brand new store right in the middle of Kastanienallee in Prenzlauer Berg. Jacks is L’Oréal Germany’s national makeup artist; her new retail store also features a salon, beauty treatment area, barber’s shop and a great selection of niche beauty brands.
Enjoy, but please respect the copyright (Mintel/BPC)!
While 4711 Echt Kölnisch Wasser is arguably the best-known fragrance manufactured in the German city of Cologne, there is another – and much older – local Eau de Cologne company. Farina can trace its roots back to 1709 and although the brand’s fragrances are a lot more exclusive than 4711, its customer base is equally international.