Successful chance meetings are few and far between, but for Maggie Coker and Johanna Hagman it happened in German class, and fortunately for us they have been working together ever since. Starting out by selling vintage and second hand furniture and clothes at markets, they finally settled on Briesestraße in Neukölln two and a half years ago. Rag and Bone Man is the name of their boutique — a three-room haven thoughtfully designed according to the re-make model — filled with pre-loved fashion for boys and girls alike.

As we arrive, Maggie appears around the corner with her arms full of fresh flowers which she immediately starts arranging into a medley of mason jars. The girls care a great deal about presentation, and it shows; Flowers, candles, cookie jars and other carefully selected items — as well as Johanna’s famous Swedish cinnamon buns — contribute to creating a welcoming atmosphere in which their customers feel comfortable to stop by for a coffee and discover new (old) treasure. —’It’s so nice when people are immediately attracted to a piece, fall in love with it, and need to have it’.

It’s so nice when people are immediately attracted to a piece, fall in love with it, and need to have it!

There is definitely a consistent mood to the shop, reflective of their unique touch and tastes. As the girls profess, they ‘have very different styles and end up choosing pieces that compliment one another’. Their selection process varies depending on whether or not they are looking for something specific, but their marvels are found on their shopping trips, during trips to their respective home countries, Sweden and the UK, or wherever else their travels may take them. Some pieces are even sent from special connections abroad.

Despite the discerning selection process, Rag and Bone Man has something for everyone and every occasion. Unlike many trendy vintage stores that are so hip they’re mostly intimidating, Maggie and Johanna are in tune with their customer’s wishes and adamant about offering both a selection of simple every-day-basics that ‘their neighbors or others who don’t follow trends can wear’ as well as more unique and crazy statement pieces, such as a jean jacket with a teddy bear sewn to the back.

We have very different styles and end up choosing pieces that compliment one another…

Putting their hands to the batter, Johanna designs and creates jewellery made from hardware bits, and they both make T-shirts. Their foray into vintage and second hand, is well-thought through educated choices that resonate with their individual ethics. ‘It’s a lot about recycling actually, and the fact that the quality (of the clothes) is so much better. The fabrics are often stronger and more resistant, and the clothes were produced in smaller runs and by skilled workers. With modern-day chain stores, workers are being exploited and smaller industries are being obliterated. The outcome and quality is crap.’  To collect and buy vintage can be pricier than the run-of-the-mill 4.99€ flimsy remnants of the mass-produced mega-stores. It’s about making informed decisions and selecting items that you will cherish and use for a long time.

It’s a lot about recycling actually, and the fact that the quality is so much better. The fabrics are often stronger and more resistant, and the clothes were produced in smaller runs and by skilled workers.

But for the Rag and Bone Man ladies, their shop is a lot more than a place to buy some new clothes. As Maggie says: ‘our shop give us the opportunity to relate with various groups of people’. Johanna is quick to add: ‘people come to have a coffee, and then we get to talk with them and also know what they are into’. Through a plethora of different events and exhibitions, they attract a constant flux of people, with various interests, creating a wider, stronger community that is not restrained to fashion. Previous happenings include (but are definitely not limited to) their famous Bitch’n Bakes, movie nights, book swaps, various food related gatherings, such as the recent Summer club, offering both stick and poke tattoos and vegan Hot dogs. ‘It’s important to keep what we are doing creative, and to offer a platform for community events and discussions, for people to enjoy themselves in our space’. One event happening in the near future, left our mouths a gape; The girls are planning a silent-date night in which people come together and don’t talk, letting their body language speak for themselves to a curated soundtrack. Once the soundtrack is over people will be invited to mingle over always delicious food and drinks. We’ll be waiting in deep anticipation for this one!

 

People come to have a coffee, and then we get to talk with them and also know what they are into…

It’s important to keep what we are doing creative, and to offer a platform for community events and discussions, for people to enjoy themselves in our space.

Keeping with the idea of supporting one another in a community, they have recently created a map of the neighborhood including favorite shops and cafés, highlighting smaller businesses that are off the beaten path. A considerate endeavor also for tourists, newcomers and others who make the trek to Neukölln for a specific shop, the map allows customers to discover other gems that are often scattered throughout the neighborhood’s many nooks and crannies.

At Rag and Bone Man you never exactly know which treasures you’ll find, one thing is for sure, two girls with a lot of heart will welcome you in. And if indecisiveness suddenly hits, because there are too many things to choose from, their Book of Answers will help guide the way.

Follow R & B M on Facebook for the latest scoop on events.
Photos by Sima Ebrahimi.