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December 18, 2017
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Source: deargoods.com.
Inside DearGoods' second Munich shop.
Source: deargoods.com.

Organic clothes, fair-trade products and vegan shoes - all for sale in a German shopping gem: DearGoods. Surprisingly, its roots aren't in Berlin, but in Munich, often considered Germany's southern capital of roast, luxury fashion and conservative lifestyle.

Before DearGoods' founder, Nicole Noli, became a shop-owner, she was a freelance consultant in IT project management, devoting her after-work hours to her true interests - animal and environmental protection. "I always read the German blog, Veggie Love, and would see all these amazing products and think, 'This should be available in one single store, the kind of store around the corner, and not only on the internet.'"

Noli didn't just think about it, she acted on it and in April 2012 opened DearGoods in Munich. "I know my way around numbers, I'm not afraid of business or anything." Evidently, because after Noli first opened shop in Munich, within six months, the 37-year-old had already expanded to Berlin; then in December 2012, she opened a second Munich shop.

For Noli, researching new brands and products never stops. "I try to have as many local brands in my store as possible," Noli explains, "like Berlin brands FormatBrainshirt and Bleed." Men's and women's jewellery sold at the shop is from People Tree, one of today's best known fair trade fashion brands. The vegan-leather bags that Noli offers are by Canadian brand, Matt&Nat, and are made from recycled plastic bottles. She also claims to be the first in Munich to stock jeans by British company, Monkee Genes.

I try to have as many local brands in my store as possible, like Berlin brands Format, Brainshirt and Bleed.

"For me, it's very important to buy everything myself. I also do that for the Berlin store, but of course I have a shop manager there, and a fabulous team."

The brand she appears to be most proud of is entirely Made in Munich, Yubi - from the designs to the dyeing of the clothes and the sewing of every piece. "I love the colours and the cuts. I know the designer and I invited her to a Fashion-Vernissage in my Munich store. I want my customers to know the designers, to develop a relationship with them," Noli emphasises.

Of course, building relationships also applies to Noli herself. Over the year, she has kept in touch with the French clothing brand, L'Herbe Rouge; she let them know that she loved their fair-trade trousers, but couldn't offer them at DearGoods because of their leather labels. After a while, the brand became fond of the idea of making at least some their products vegan and changed all of their leather labels to paper. Still, some of the trousers feature silk and wool, but these are the kinds of changes Noli wants to be part of. DearGoods only sells the 100 per cent vegan trousers.

"It has all worked out so well, went so smoothly," Noli explains as she glances around her new Munich store at Baaderstraße 65. "Like it was meant to be. I always walked past this spot and thought: 'that would be nice to have.' And one day it was for rent. I took that as a sign!" Its rooms are more spacious than in the other Munich shop, a minimalist, sparsely decorated interior with high ceilings and clothing racks that hang from the ceiling with ropes.

One might think that DearGoods is just another sustainable-branded shop, but Noli is ambitious; she doesn't only want to sell her products, but raise awareness about sustainable consumption. "Clothes are things nobody lives without. Everyone needs to dress. With these daily things you need to start making a difference. Clothes and food, that's what everybody needs."

Noli installed an information board with cards and leaflets from vegan restaurants in Munich, small vegan recipe books and information about the brands she sells. She wants to make is easy for people to change their lifestyles - and a bit harder to find excuses for not living more sustainably. For that reason, reasonable pricing is very important her, and aims for a price point that is affordable by students. She offers basics and t-shirts for only €15, or earrings for €12. "Of course I want to show how cool organic clothes are, how easy it can be dress sustainably - and how affordable."

DearGoods' Berlin storefront.
Source: deargoods.com.

Germany's capital, Berlin, is also the centre of alternative lifestyle and cautious consumption. It wasn't really surprising when Noli opened a second store in Berlin this summer, but she did surprise herself: "I went to Berlin this summer and next to the vegan supermarket Veganz and the vegan shoe shop Avesu was a free store. [The street] has become a vegan shopping street," Noli explains and smiles. "I didn't really plan to expand this quickly. It was a bit intimidating, but Jan from Veganz and Thomas from Avesu, my two new neighbours, have been very supportive."

"I want to take the speed out of our world, have people slow down and decrease society's urge to keep buying and buying. Let them see how much nicer it is to have only a few, but very pretty, things. To buy high-quality products you can wear without a bad conscience than just stuff your closet."

Noli also wants to slow down: "Three stores are definitely enough, I'll spend 2013 working on them. The expansion has stopped - at least for now." 

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