While in Berlin recently (trip report here) a friend recommended I find the time to visit a shop by the name of Fein und Ripp. Not being very savvy to the happening places in Berlin, I had to make a quick visit to their website before seeing how essential it was to make a detour up to Prenzlauer Berg. Well, the story on the website certainly had me intrigued!.
Imagine discovering an abandoned clothes factory, with storerooms still full of stock, as if one days they’d just called it quits and closed up. This is what the father and sons team behind Fein und Ripp discovered near Stuttgart a handful of years ago. As the story goes the trio were so intrigued they decided to purchase the remaining stock. Initially selling it on the local Mauer market (“mauer” as in Berlin Wall), they later opened a shop in the hipster Prenzlauer Berg area of Berlin.
Fein und Ripp is the strange combination of a fairly new shop selling stock that is older than the owners themselves. We’re talking true vintage new old stock, not secondhand or repro, but garments produced as far back as the 1920s. It’s not all old news though, there is newer old stuff as well, even as new as 30 years old.
In addition to the Henley-style cotton shirts from the original factory, they also do a fine line in prisoner suits from Sweden, dating back to around the 1920’s. Yep, in Sweden even the convicts get to dandy up, how great is that? I also came across a crate full of Swiss mining trousers, great patina and interesting vintage style.
Authentic old stock is by nature a limited commodity though, so as time goes by and customers buy it, there is a ned to replenish the stock if the shop is to keep going. Fein und Ripp have done this in two ways: Reproduction and representation. They now sell boots by Frye and Wolverine and clothing by Pike Brothers. Being heritage-inspired brands, these fit nicely into the concept of “old stock” and only seem out of place by the obviously modern tags on them.
The reproduction side of things is even more interesting. In a collaboration with Hamburg-based tailor Holger Peckmann von Monomento, they do a line of vintage-styled suits, complete with high-waisted, cinch-backed trousers, a fetching line of waistcoats and jackets to match. The material used is deadstock fabric they’ve sourced. The idea of only using deadstock material may sound terribly hipster, less so if we call old, unused rolls of fabric what they really are, i.e. old, unused rolls of fabric, but the right fabric can be quite spectacular. And of course, once it’s gone, it’s gone. I had the chance to feel up their original 1940’s linen fabric and it was a moment for silent contemplation. Of course, that fabric is now gone. In it’s place is another great one from 1950. By the time you read this, it’ll probably be gone as well. Such is life.
If you fancy some of the deadstock suiting though, make sure you visit the shop on a Saturday, when the tailor is there to take measurements. I’ve no idea what fabrics they sartorial archeology department at Fein und Ripp will unearth for their next round, but it’s certain to be something a little bit special. Next time I visit Berlin I’ll going to visit the shop on a Saturday!
Oh, and in case you’re worried about not tackling the German lingo, rest assured that the very friendly brother that was there when I visited the shop spoke excellent English, in addition to being utterly charming and helpful.
Be aware that shops in the Prenzlauer Berg area don’t open until 12!