After being snubbed by R, I, G, H, and T in BRIGHT XIV’s  Bad Brain’s Right Brigade-inspired marketing campaign, “B” hit the road this winter to find a new posse in the lead up to this summer’s BRIGHT XV, going down in Berlin July 4-6. On his journey, B caught up with some of the hottest brands and retailers in Germany, France, Italy, Scandinavia, and the UK. We debriefed Big B after his sojourn to hear what’s checking in Europe’s five largest action sports markets as we prepare to make the trip to Europe’s largest and busiest skate and lifestyle trade show next month.

The first stop on B’s journey was Deutschland, where he stopped by the offices of Wemoto and Hamburg’s Mantis Skate Shop.


Wemoto


Mantis

Wemoto Founders Stefan Golz, Gregor Garkisch, and Patrick Lotz

The first stop on B’s journey was Deutschland, where he stopped by the offices of Wemoto, one of the coolest apparel brands we noticed at this winter’s Bright show. Founded in 2003 by Patrick Lotz, Stefan Golz, and Gregor Garkisch, Wemoto grew from its skate, design, and music roots that were planted with a seven-T-shirt line These days, it has grown into a full clothing line with over 250 pieces a season.

B and TWBusiness sat down with Garkisch to learn more about the brand, and what they’ll be showing at Bright XV.

Tell us a little about getting the brand off the ground.
Our goal was always to build up a full line clothing brand. The first four years, everybody worked a regular job or studied. There was no salary involved or anything like that. Every earning was put back in the company. We just believed in our vision, worked hard and most importantly constantly on it.

Describe what you make in three sentences.
I can try it in one: we make clothes the good people like to wear.

What makes you different from other apparel brands in your market?
Basically, we do stuff we would like to wear ourselves. This approach works for us super well.

Here’s a sneak peek of Wemoto’s upcoming line:

wemoto s/s 2013
wemoto s/s 2013
wemoto s/s 2013
wemoto s/s 2013
wemoto s/s 2013
wemoto s/s 2013
wemoto s/s 2013
wemoto s/s 2013

How would you describe the German and European action sports market and how does it translate into your line?
I think the European market is not so shiny and bling bling. You hardly find anyone wearing a gold chain and a watch that’s as big as a brick. It's absolutely OK for the US, and we are fine with that, but that's definitely not the European way to present themselves. We like everything a little bit more low key.

Are you distributed internationally? Where?
Wemoto is available in around 200 Shops in the following countries: Germany, France, The Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, Finland, Austria, China, Czech Republic, Dubai, Hong Kong, Iceland, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK.

Follow the jump for more on Wemoto and the German market…

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Wemoto’s UXA collab.

What kinds of shops are those primarily?
We are in the lucky situation to be in skate shops as well as in Boutiques. Some of our top accounts are: Colette, Footpatrol, ITHK, Caliroots, HHV, Size, and Freshcotton to name a few.

What have been the highlights of the last year?
Family, friends, skateboarding, music, design, movies, parties—just good times.

How about the lowlights?
Knock on wood, no lowlights so far.

Everyday we hear more and more on the news about the "European Debt Crisis"—you feeling this in your world? How?
Production is more expensive because of the exchange rate, but that is basically it. We got a great reputation and people dig the stuff we do, so even though there is a “crisis” we are making good numbers.

If you had a meeting with a large US retailer, what would your pitch be?
No pitch, just a [beer] pitcher. Always worked out for us (laughs).

What items are you most stoked on in your upcoming line and why?
Sounds corny, but there is no single piece I would like to point out, the whole collection is just awesome.

Anything else you'd like to add?
Just Love Life!

Mantis Life Store

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B’s next stop was a trip to Hamburg’s Mantis, a major hub, or bearing if you will, of the city’s skate and lifestyle scene. Founded 12 years ago,  Mantis is owned by none other than Richie Löffler, who B posted up with to learn more about the shop and the city’s vibe.

How would you describe the scene in Hamburg and at your shop?
It’s a great community, with everyone from young tech dogs to old DIY-building concrete rippers.
Sum up your average customer in five words: Loves to skate every day
What makes your shop unique?
Our passion for skateboarding and a lot of events.
What three categories have been moving the best for you this year? 
Shoes, longboards, and hardware.
What three US brands are strongest at your shop?
Vans, Element, and Plan B.
What about local and European-specific brands?
TRAP, Polar and Part Hardwear.
What was the best thing that happened for your shop in the last year? 
Every Skater that goes out with a smile and a good feeling is the best thing that happened last year.
How do you think you will answer that last question a year from now?
Same way.
I like your style. What do you wish US brand would do differently to help you out? 
Give the shops a margin of 100% on hardgoods.
Everyday we hear on the news about the "European Debt Crisis"—you feeling this in your market? How? 
We’re not feeling it.
That’s good news. What are your biggest concerns for the next year?
That more wars will come
What are a few things every skater should check out in Hamburg? 
Red Brick Bank Spot, Fishrestaurant around the corner form Mantis, and Jungfernstieg.
Anything you'd like to add?
Dont hate, go skate.
Well said.