Opened in March 2002, Volls has become an institution for menswear not only in its home town, Darmstadt (Germany) but also a reference shopping destination in the German retail landscape. Klaus Voll, the store founder and manager, puts special emphasis on curating a label assortment with brands that no other independent retailers stock in the region. Heritage denim looks are one of the key styles that you can find in store, with brands like Edwin, Iron Heart or Mastercraft Union and Red Wing. Premium outerwear brands also play an important role, from Stone Island to Canada Goose and Woolrich. The Voll's latest milestone was openening his first-ever women's store, located just a few meters away from the gents' one. We spoketo Klaus Voll about the latest assortment updates, ecommerce and sources of inspiration.
Interview by Lorenzo Molina

What brands are especially well-received within your assortment?
We are really happy with the response that our consumers are giving to our whole selection of products. The brands Canada Goose, Woolrich and Stone Island are worth mentioning though, especially now in the winter season.

You also have a broad denim offering.
We used to have even more. But in the last two years, we have started to concentrate on those denim brands that perform well –the ones that we need and our customers need. Paying attention to what our website was telling us that works or doesn’t; unique selling propositions to differentiate ourselves from our competitors; innovative products… This has strongly influenced our jeans program lately. We also broke up with many past things and searched for new labels that were not overall stocked.

In regard of new labels –I’ve seen that you are stocking e.g. Mastercraft Union in your e-shop…
Mastercraft is the legitimate PRPS successor. We ended the partnership with PRPS because the collection was not round any longer. On the contrary, Mastercraft's jeans fit is incredibly good and the one that we needed for our clients.

Have you recently added any labels to the assortment?
Majestic. We had stocked the brand around seven years ago and this season finally adopted it once again.

You opened a women’s store earlier this year. As a retailer, what do you find more difficult when putting together an offer for women?
A women’s assortment is much more fast-paced and trend-driven. You cannot take the exact same brands list that we stock for men and sell it for ladies, maybe only a few ones.

What are your sources of inspiration in order to stay up-to-date with fashion?
Trade shows are still very important. You have to broaden your horizons though: it’s no longer enough to attend only the shows in Berlin and Düsseldorf. You have to sit on a plane and travel a bit further: not only to Paris, but also New York, which is very important for us with Capsule, Men and Liberty. In Amsterdam, we visit Modefabriek.

How do you use the e-shop for the benefit of your brick-and-mortar store?
Online is constantly changing. A new internet page for Volls is in the pipeline –it is a great tool to check how a label performs by introducing it firstly on this channel. Many people come to our page directly during the last years and become regular users. Hence you don’t need big communication any more –only multipliers like some blogs or posts on Facebook and Instagram. Personally, I have mixed feelings about the online business and its long-term viability though. To update online concepts is a big investment as well…but you don’t go anywhere without investment today. All in or nothing. I forecast hard times for small- and middle-sized businesses with online shops –here the competition is extreme and mostly exclusively through price tags.

How important is the interior, the atmosphere and the whole package?
Super important! As a retailer, you create a store concept, pick up the right illumination, and look after the routes inside the shop. The consumers that come in today have certain aesthetical standards and they expect a neat atmosphere.

View of the recently-opened Volls women's store
View of the recently-opened Volls women's store

Volls, the Essence of Menswear
Schulstraße 1,
64283 Darmstadt
Phone: 06151 9518171