Monki Business

Monki, Scandinavia’s answer to H&M, has a name that refers to a cast of more than 40 mutant monkis whose furry un-simian shapes adorn sweaters, bags and other mascot items in the shop. The shop’s bulbous colored lights are real-world representations of the toxic ooze that, according to Monki-lore, turned the creatures into whatever they are now. The cast of fully fleshed out characters is limited to only seven monkis, whose allegorical, adorable off-kilter antics can be followed on the Monki website. As Rike Doepp, of the Berlin-based PR firm Agentur V explains, “The monki characters are all a little screwed up. Some are mean and others are naughty, but they have good intentions. They make great imaginary friends.”

German shoppers are blissfully embracing Monki, which opened in Hamburg last Thursday. In Scandinavian form Monki offers a wide array of socialistically priced high-end gear in spaces designed with endearing eccentricity.The Hamburg-branch of Monki is a bubbly multi-tiered shop set to woo young women with slightly wonky but discerning taste in playfully designed Cyndi Lauper-style dresses, slim tie-dye trousers, and laced up leather heels.

Monki was founded in Stockholm by Orjan Andersson and Adam Freiberg the heads of the Cheap Monday denim brand and the Weekday chain which features of chic, artsy, vintage and designer capsule collections. They hope to extend the international success with Cheap Monday, which was recently purchased by H&M and hired London-darling Ann-Sofie Back to head its house line. “We were really lucky with Cheap Monday because we did skinny jeans that no one liked and then they suddenly became really popular,” explains founder Adam Friberg, “We just don’t want to compromise. We will be popular or not, but we mostly we just want to make things that don’t exist or make existing things better. We’re not too interested in popularity.”

The design concept for the shop’s decor and its wares combines Swedish style with Japanese-inspired anthropomorphic design and otherworldly color combinations. “If you are a weird girl in your class, you could come here, experiment and figure yourself out,” advises Doepp.