My old neighbourhood under new light: A walk from S Sonnenallee to U Kottbusser Tor in Berlin brings up memories and discoveries. Read more on the changes as well as sustainable fashion, barbers and second-hand clothes in Neukölln.

Berlin memories

I love Berlin! It was a huge adventure to move to the capital in 2004. For many years the city felt like an ever-changing playground. Therefore, it was hard to empty my small inner-city apartment in January 2018, even though I wasn’t really using it all that much (Wie ich zum Tauchen kam). After all, rents are going through the roof thanks to gentrification and speculation. Gentrification was the topic I started to argue about with one of the Geography professors in my final exam. According to her, nobody has the right to live in the inner city, the free market knows best how to develop a city … Thank heavens, I’m not at uni anymore!

Sustainable clothing in Berlin

In addition to that, I am a tourist now. However, I was delighted to find a different study topic of mine becoming more visible in town: The market for sustainable clothing is growing – just as a study of four students of management of environment predicted in 2006. Granted, there might be a link to gentrification in this development. Nevertheless, I happily collected some shopping guides on the matter and went to explore the city with some semi-accurate maps on a different mission than exhibitions, parties and food – my all-time favourites in Berlin.

Sonnenallee, Berlin: A walk down memory lane

When I and my back then-boyfriend were looking for apartments around Sonnenallee in the summer of 2004, multiple people on the street actually asked us if we were sure to move to that part of town. Students would go to Kreuzberg, Prenzlauerberg or Friedrichshain, we surely had no idea how to behave! Some assumed we wanted to feel at home: Neukölln = Köln (Cologne). Minor detail that I am originally from Kamen and lived in Dortmund and Bochum before moving to Berlin, granted it’s all in the general direction of Cologne: West from Berlin.

The main reason we wanted to move to Neukölln: It was still central and we could easily afford the rent for the style of the apartment we wanted: big rooms, high ceilings, wooden floor, nice balcony, bathtub, spacious kitchen which eventually we found on Treptower Straße, just off Sonnenallee. I loved the little Hertzbergplatz in front, not because I ever played mini-golf there, but because it was like an oasis in the city. Coming home early in the morning, I would always meet a fox on its way to bed too. Over the years first bars popped up in Rixdorf, but only after I moved to Kottbusser Damm in 2009, did the overall neighbourhood start to change more dramatically.

I was shocked when biking past a couple of years later, to see a vegan Pizzeria next door and a shop with wooden toys from around the world where there had been a porn studio when I moved out. The vegan Pizzeria has come and gone. There are still many Arabic shops along Sonnenallee. At the moment there are barbershops emerging left, right and centre – however from and for all nationalities.

Neukölln discoveries

I walked with a different mission through my old neighbourhood: Sustainable clothing. „Studio Hertzberg“ and „Wesen“ were nice to browse through, but in the end, I shopped at „Second Hand Shop“ (Pannierstr. 13) and then in shops in other parts of Berlin: „Supermarché“ (Wiener Str. 16), Dress Code (Nostritzstr. 25), „Zoula Second Hand“ (Gneisenaustr. 95) and „Chapati“ (Zossener Str. 37). I also checked out „Checkpoint & Cinema“ (Mehring Damm 41) and „STYLO“ (Hagelberger Str. 52).

Shopping guides and maps to discover the ecological, fair, sustainable and alternative side of fashion as well as second-hand clothing:

„LIVESPONIBLE Der Berliner Guide für Nachhaltigkeit“ is not only orientated on fashion, but lists also other activities and shops.
Always double-check the address as the numbers are a little bit all over the place. I visited „Studio Hertzberg“ see pictures above. Nice little shop, good concept, some interesting stuff, but nothing I bought this time.
My personal favourite of the shopping guides is actually this one. The map is not the most stylish, but at least accurate and it lists a lot of second-hand shops where I can then still look for fair and sustainable brands.
It was fun to see some fair and ecological fashion produced in Berlin. But I have a slightly different style and therefore I’m very happy with all the second-hand shops in town.

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