Meet The People Shaping Frankfurt's Fashion & Footwear Scene

Creatives, models and musicians makin’ moves.

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Fashion 
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Berlin is often regarded as Germany‘s coolest city, especially when it comes to fashion and footwear. A wide variety of style publications, clothing labels, boutiques and even sneaker brands are based out of this culturally savvy metropolis. However, other cities too like Cologne, Düsseldorf and Hamburg are gaining recognition as prime destinations for discerning travelers. Frankfurt is also a place that deserves focus amongst the list–it’s an international financial hub that has one of the world’s highest standards of living. With that said, Frankfurt is a haven for cultural attractions and its many museums lure thousands of visitors on a daily basis. Consequently, the formula of finance, culture and tourism has made way for Frankfurt to grow its own unique and formidable fashion community.

It might be a while until Germany’s 5th largest city becomes a global fashion powerhouse, but the future looks promising all thanks to some individuals and businesses helping put Frankfurt on the map. They’re an amalgam of influencers, artists and creatives who not only strive for perfection for themselves but also for the city they call home. And whether it’s through social media, music, or photography, each of them is determined to put out their finest works in order to let the world know what Frankfurt is capable of in the industries of fashion and footwear.

Marvin Ford

Instagram: @marvin.mape
Age: 22
Occupation: Marketing/Retail at The Listener
Favorite brands: 424, Rick Owens, Japanese designers
Favorite music artists: Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Mob, 67

Marvin Ford is one of Frankfurt’s elite fashion mavens. Besides being a marketer and retail personnel for one of the city’s best boutiques, The Listener, Marvin is also working hard on soon debuting his own label. His Instagram following of almost 22,000 continues to grow and he’s continually profiled by other publications and photographers.

Do you remember the exact moment of when you started getting into fashion? What were some of your favorite brands in the beginning?

The exact moment when I started to get into fashion was back when I started breakdancing. Suddenly, I had to dress for function. I had to be  able to move freely, pick right-sizing and materials while staying true to an aesthetic which compliments my movement. I started off wearing mainly sportswear brands–tracksuits, Dickies chinos and Bape hoodies. Later, I went through all kinds of aesthetics, trying to find the one that makes me feel complete.

How would you describe Frankfurt’s fashion scene? Do you feel some changes need to be made?

Frankfurt’s fashion scene is a little twisted. Some tend to try to impress people with heavy branding and overdoing trends, rather than creativity and individualism. It’s like true value and expertise don’t matter anymore as long as people see you can afford big names. Others are too afraid of trying new things, desperately trying to fit in. We are slowly picking up our pace though with the younger generation being more open towards new influences from all around the world.

You’re adept at using social media as a tool to convey your personal look, what are some of your strategies for getting the perfect shot and putting together the perfect outfit?

It’s all about experience and dedication. Find content that you believe is interesting and showcase it in a way that makes it more attractive. As you go through this procedure over and over again you will noticeably develop your skill set accordingly. As for putting together your outfits, don’t just copy what you see somewhere, stick to what you personally like, everybody can follow, but few can create.

Cathy Wolf

Instagram: @cathywolf
Age: 16
Occupation: High School student
Favorite Brands: Raf Simons, Acne Studios, Comme des Garçons (Homme Plus)
Favorite Music Artists: A$AP Rocky, Skepta, Billie Eilish, Tyler, the Creator

Those who follow fashion closely might recognize Cathy Wolf from 032c’s recent “Love Story” editorial for its Peroxide collection. In fact, it was her and her boyfriend Joel Olchow that starred in the playful pictorial. The connection between fashion and youth culture is strong as ever and Cathy is one of its few representatives hailing from Frankfurt. She’s currently represented by a top modeling agency and when she’s not hard at work at school, she’s at her best making a name for herself in the fashion industry.

Do you feel there is a movement amongst the youth in Frankfurt when it comes to fashion?
Currently, I definitely see many small changes every single day. With social media so available to everyone here, the youth of Frankfurt is using fashion as an outlet and as a vehicle to move forward in the fashion world. With stores like the Listener, Uebervart etc. it is getting easier and easier to get a hold of some of the “hyped” brands. This does not necessarily imply that wearing hyped brands automatically catapults you to be able to say that you have a sense of style or have your personal style. I believe this comes with time. I believe that you should never let clothes wear you, but that you should wear the clothes. The realization that a certain style is not for you is very important because it guides your way to your very own style. This is important for many people, especially in Frankfurt, to realize.

Do you and your friends have a love for the same brands? Which brands do you gravitate to the most and why?
We all seem to share an admiration for the creative minds of the designers of brands like Comme des Garçons, Raf Simons, Haider Ackermann, Helmut Lang, or Margiela. Yet we don’t necessarily care about the brands themselves. We wear what we believe suits us, and it is irrelevant if the garments are vintage, high-end, or something else. I gravitate towards garments, not brands.

As a teenager, how did you start learning about fashion? Who inspired you the most when it came to finding your personal style?
Music and art were and are my greatest influences. They got me into fashion. I remember Rocky releasing his first mixtape, Live Love A$AP, on Halloween in 2011. I was only 10 back then. I listened to songs like “Fashion Killa” and “Peso.” These songs left strong impressions and marked my way to finding my style, for very obvious reasons. An artist that I admire, more than anyone else, is Jean-Michel Basquiat. My parents used to drag me to museums as a kid, but I started realizing that art is magic. Basquiat was an artist that really made his way to the top, and I have immense respect for that. When I realized that fashion was art, I knew that I wanted to create art, through designing, sewing, and painting.

How would you describe Frankfurt to the other fashionable youth communities around the world?
A quick glance at Frankfurt displays only dullness but a closer look at specific areas reveal a blooming youth that has found that fashion is an amazing way to express themselves. The “fashion-community” is growing fast in Frankfurt. The collective, Ignaz (@ignaz.de), whose members could arguably be considered the pioneers of the Frankfurt fashion scene, encourages the art, fashion and music movement through their parties in museum exhibitions and their own garments. I believe that Frankfurt has a promising future in store.

Ben Birkl

Instagram: @ben.birkl
Age: 31
Occupation: European Marketing Manager at Alpha Industries Europe
Favorite brands: Alpha Industries, Stussy, Patta, Nike, Daily Paper, Carhartt, Stone Island, Supreme, Puma, Bape
Favorite music artists: The ASAP Mob, Travis Scott, Migos, Gucci Mane, Future, Young Thug, Kanye West

Benjamin Birkl has been behind some of fashion’s favorite Alpha Industries collaborations — the recent Daily Paper release is worth the mention. Ben also grew up in Frankfurt and knows the city through-and-through. He’s seen his hometown’s fashion and footwear scene change, from its early skatewear obsession right down to its new love for high-end labels. Ben is known by everyone in Frankfurt’s fashion community and he continues to be a strong advocate of the culture in his native city.

As someone who is in the global fashion industry alongside Alpha Industries, what’s your take on Frankfurt’s fashion culture compared to the world?

Compared to other countries or cities, Frankfurt’s fashion culture is relatively small and manageable. But those who are inspired by it give 120%. Everybody knows each other and we’ve become a big family.

You grew up in Frankfurt. How have you seen and experienced the city’s creative culture change throughout the years?

From my point of view, there hasn’t been a real change because Frankfurt always had a huge creative culture. Shout out to Goethe! Frankfurt is constantly developing itself and especially the younger generation is on the come-up, like the homies from 97cm.

What makes Frankfurt such a special place to visit, especially for creative types and consumers?

Frankfurt is pretty “small” so everything is more or less within walking distance. Besides some cool concept stores, we have really old and brand new architecture. There are a lot of museums, galleries, operas and places to hang out. It’s a multicultural city – this means that the people here are super open minded. We have a huge bar and club scene which is pretty rad and it’s definitely worth going out at night!

Sascha Priesters

Instagram: @themoldernway
Age: 23
Occupation: System Engineer and Photographer
Favorite brands: Carhartt, Patta, Nike
Favorite Music Artists: Travis Scott, Post Malone

43einhalb is one of Frankfurt’s best sneaker shops and the place is lucky to have a talented content creator like Sascha Priesters. Sascha’s day job is as a system engineer for a tech company but his true passion is in photography and sneakers. Juggling both is not an easy feat for any young professional but Sascha is happy to contribute to Frankfurt’s small but growing sneaker community, especially alongside 43einhalb.

How did you start getting into sneakers and streetwear? What were your favorite brands growing up? Did you have a favorite pair at the very beginning of your sneaker collecting career?

That was when traveling with my parents to Hamburg (Germany) a long time ago. Saw a few very cool shops with good pieces and stylish people in it, so I started to read more about the clothes and shoes. At that time, the Hip Hop Baggy style thing was quite popular and I was really digging it! Karl Kani, Rocawear and Pelle Pelle were my favorite clothing brands, all combined with a navy pair of Air Force 1 Highs. But the Sneaker collecting thing started a bit later, and the Asics X St.Alfred Gel Lyte III was my favorite shoe and it’s still in my Top 10.

How did you end up becoming a photographer and handling the creative side for 43einhalb in Frankfurt? Are these things something your passionate about?

Maybe a story, more people will tell about their beginning of photography, but I just wanted to take some cool shots of my sneaker, print it and put the image on the box to see whats inside (A thing I actually didn’t do until now :D). So I bought an old Canon DSLR from eBay and start to shoot. From that point on, I really got into it and put more and more time in go out and shooting. The time before 43einhalb opened their store in Frankfurt, Simon and I linked up and went out for some photos and beer. After that, one thing came to another and I started to shoot more and more for 43einhalb, a thing I’m really happy about! It’s so cool to be a part of the visual identity and see how people react to the things you created.

How would you yourself describe Frankfurt’s sneaker/streetwear culture?

The culture in Frankfurt is small and everybody knows each other from somewhere. But this little culture is not directly visible or you don’t expect that much going on in Frankfurt on the first look. But companies like Alpha Industries and Nike are based here and also many people are creative and doing projects, Pop-Ups and exhibitions. So many cool things are going on, but from my perspective, this knowledge that this culture is pretty active sometimes doesn’t reach outside the borders of Frankfurt.

What are some things you’d like to see change in Frankfurt in relation to its sneaker and fashion culture?

A cool thing would be to bring Frankfurt really on the map of street culture. All these Projects, Pop-Ups and so on I mentioned should be shared also outside of the Frankfurt community to get attention so that people from other countries will know more than Berlin for street culture in Germany.

vvarholla

Instagram : vvvvv_vv_vvvvv
Soundcloud : vvarholla
Occupation: Rapper, Model, Agent, Vibe Curator
Favorite brands: Maison Martin Margiela, Saint Laurent Paris, RAF Simons, Acne Studios, 97cm, Mastermind Japan, 032c, Undercover

vvarholla is one of the few rap artists hailing from Frankfurt making some noise globally. Musically, he’s gotten the attention of a few prime producers and is currently growing his career in Berlin. As a model, brands such as Justin O’Shea’s SSS World Corp have taken notice as well as other up-and-comers. Not only has he graced various runway shows, but he’s also appeared in a variety of style editorials. His stock is just starting to rise and it will be interesting where his career takes him to next.

As someone who grew up in Frankfurt, how has the city shaped your sound as an artist? How do you differentiate your sound compared to the more global mainstream rappers now?

Frankfurt offered a variety of music from House to Hip-Hop to different genres which were cool but as the city isn’t the biggest, you quickly get a sense of what’s cool and what’s whack. You could find me creeping at some Hip-Hop event in Frankfurt back in the days which I considered cool but the love for Hip-Hop made me dig deeper into the genre, finding new artists and sounds every day and I couldn’t help myself but to compare the music I listened to privately with the tracks that were banging in the clubs. In conclusion, I was going out less and less because my taste had changed completely. Frankfurt made me dig deep into myself and my pleasures, laying the blueprint for today’s sound. I can call my sound mine because that’s where all my feelings come together and I think that’s what good music is about, isn’t it? Right now I’m also forming my signature in which I want to incorporate a global idea besides Love, Lust and grind/hustle in my music because I rather see myself as a citizen of the world than merely one of Frankfurt.

How do you describe your fashion sense? Do you have a set of favorite brands you like to wear? What got you started when it came to shaping your own style?

Fashion and Rap culture go hand in hand but it hasn’t always been like that and I feel very blessed to be young in the time where it does. I have a super modest background and all I wanted to be was fresh, to look better than my actual situation. So in early age, I was already paying considerable attention to how I want to depict myself, turning fashion to my sixth sense. I believe I will always know how to dress now and I can easily pass it on. My favorite go-to brands are Maison Margiela, Saint Laurent, Raf Simons, Acne Studios, 97cm, Mastermind Japan, 032c and Undercover.

You’re now furthering your rap career in Berlin but still come back to Frankfurt. How important is it for you to represent Frankfurt and put the city on the map on a global scale?

Yeah, I gotta get back to Frankfurt because my family lives close to Frankfurt and what’s a real man without his family? Besides them, a bunch of very good friends is also still located in the Europe-City. Honestly, I learned a lot in Frankfurt from good shit to bullshit, therefore, I wanna represent the good things which are the ideas of a few individuals I grew close to. Making sure all my people get pieces of the cake. I know as a person from Frankfurt, the name will always travel with me but actually, I just want to represent myself, the work and art of my good friends and that’s it. If the city profits from that, it’s an additional win.

Do you have any advice for young people in Frankfurt who may want to follow what you do in terms of music and fashion?

Those who want to follow a creative path or just any path and you live in Frankfurt, I just want to let you know that you are in a great position to take what you actually want from provincial to global but for that you should know what you want and you have to be willing to bleed and burn for it and still want it. That’s why push forward, ask for help and don’t get defeated.

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