The Fresh Prince of Neukölln – Le Magass
By Sarah Luisa Santos . October 21, 2014
Le Magass is a vintage clothes shop located on Reuterstrasse that brings back all that Club Kids Disco style. But far from being nostalgic, the shop is quite contemporary.
I was curious to know about the place, especially because of the owner’s life story. A real globe trotter with a very unusual background, Mavin is a Fashion Designer who graduated in Berlin. He was born in Poland and has African roots, having an African father and Polish mother, so has a rather large and varied cultural heritage to draw inspiration from.
Mavin spent his early years in Poland, living with his grandparents, where he got in contact with the handmade knitting from his grandma and some good-old carpentry techniques from his grandpa.
“I grew up with my grandparents in Poland and they taught me to experiment with everything on a daily basis. I ended up seeing loads of handmade objects, recycled and upcycled items, mainly because materialistic consumption in general wasn’t a possibility, hence not a priority. In order to possess something, we had to create it with alternative materials. That included not only food but clothes, toys and books. Everything was either used or self-made.”
Long story short, Mavin ended up coming to Berlin in his early teens and studying Fashion Design. After graduating, he spent 3 years working in Stockholm for a fashion brand, then moved back to Poland and worked with an electro pop artist, also flirting with becoming a singer and songwriter, before finally moving back to Berlin and now owning his own shop.
“After a while here and there I felt there is no other place like Berlin, so I returned and focused on Fashion again. This time recycled/vintage fashion. I didn’t feel the need to create a new collection, but wanted to source the great fashion that is already there and to mix it up with my own style/experience. I see my vintage shop LeMagass as a styling ground. The unique pieces I find on selected markets or get from my stylist friends (in commission) are often mixed with each other to create something new. My main influence is the late ‘80s/early ‘90s.”
When I asked how was it to open his own shop, Mavin said it all happened by accident. He initially had a spot at Alexanderplatz, which he found by chance while looking for a flat with a friend, but then later on, because of contractual reasons, Mavin had to leave that place and look for somewhere else to run his business. Where to? Neukölln!
“Many friends in the past have opened things in Neukölln and it was a natural thing for me to go and look for a space there. It wasn’t easy to find it, since the rents have rocketed up in such a short time. I know Neukölln from way back, when I was a kid, travelling to Boddinstrasse (on the ORIENT EXPRESS, aka the U8 – that’s how my parents always called it!) almost every weekend to visit my African uncle with his kids.
Trust me, this area was always weird, and back in the late ‘80s it was wild! It was kind of very similar to Wedding, where I grew up, so it wasn’t a cultural shock.
Anyway, I found a space on Reuterstrasse with the help of flyers I had plastered all over town. The girls from Barettino (café next door to my new spot) called me up, hinting that I should get in touch with the landlord, because the hairdresser that used to be there for 30 years was about to retire. I got in touch and got the place.
I love Neukölln for its unique mix of people. The whole U8 is a melting pot of different nationalities. You meet the weirdest, yet most interesting people there. There aren’t many places like this in Berlin!”
Talking about interesting things, Le Magass has a very particular style.
“My vintage store, LeMagass, offers ‘80s disco chic meets ‘90s rave lifestyle. I am also constantly working on various upcycling products, like bags and jewellery, creating unique items inspired by that era. Generally, I’m stuck in a time warp that has been influenced by me growing up in Berlin as a teenager. I like to call my brand/store a hybrid of that decade. To put it simply: the illegitimate lovechild of Bill Cosby and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.”
Therefore expect to see loads of neon pieces mixed with some folkloric African prints, plus baggy pants and silk bouffant blouses at Le Magass.
Reuterstrasse 59, Neukölln