Civilist is a part skate store and part streetwear boutique that makes some room for art.
It opened its doors back in 2009 as a gallery and the interior hasn’t changed that much over the years. Exhibitions are still alive, including many musicians, artists, skateboarders, and BMX riders who like to hang out there. U can drop there every time you need to cop a new kick or just hang out w/ ur fellas.
We’ve taken some minutes of Julian’s time, one of the founders of Civilist , to talk about its skateboarding core and the sk8r life outside the store in Berlin.
All in a few more scrolls. 👇
What’s behind Civilist’s name?
The name actually comes from WWII. During the war times, there were all of these guys that opened the stores for free people. Basically, the ones that didn’t belong to any army. German armies were in that sense not really a thing anymore.
That’s why people in Berlin didn’t have to go to the army. “Civilist” is basically a transformed word into English because this word doesn’t exist anywhere else. It references the free people back in the days when Berlin was occupied.
We see that Civilist has these very strong feelings about skateboarding. This still applies, doesn’t it?
The basic idea, in the beginning, was not to be similar to the typical skate store we had, which was packed and dark.
This shop here used to be a gallery before, and the idea also was to have some sort of a gallery and shop space which in the end basically turned into a shop only. We do have some exhibitions here from time to time but we just didn’t want to have it super packed with stuff. We wanted to have it open. Somebody at some point said skate “boutique”. That word didn’t exist before because it looks like a boutique. At the core, it’s still skateboarding.
U have a lot of pics around. Is it a kind of a Civilist community or is it just random pics u found online?
This is actually from a recent exhibition. We just were too lazy to put them down. We do have a very strong community of skateboarders, good friends, good people that hang around here which is also very important for us, like all the guys that hang around here. Some start to work here as well. Some have worked here before and this is a really important part nowadays, especially with all the online stuff where you know you have something such as a really, really strong community around you that symbolizes what you are as a store.
You could build this store in two days somewhere else. But you don’t have the community. A lot of people come in here, and as you see now in the back, there are kids hanging around, usually on a Saturday night.
If one of those ppl asks u about the best place to skate here in Berlin, where it will be?
Tough question. There are plenty of really cool places around. We know a lot of skate spots. The easiest is the one just around the corner here, this is where we go sometimes: Spielplatz. But it’s like just a very tiny skate park, it’s where the boys hang out and where you just go after work in the summer.
Probably right now we would send them to the shelter. It’s Nike SB Shelter skate park because now the weather is shit and cold. That’s why most of ppl go to the indoor skate park.
Is there any exposition here rn?
Now we have some pics of Stefan Janoski. He has a role model from Nike, this shoe came out 10 years ago. So they had an exhibition in here as a 10-year anniversary exhibition and then Stefan was here. He’s from the US but he’s a very good friend of ours. This is why we have those pictures up.
They were collecting pictures, they were collecting all the shoes he did over the past 10 years, and we had them as an exhibition here.
The right shoes can make a huge difference in skateboarding. We see a lot of leather in some sick snkrs u got here — like the ones by Reebok, Adidas, and Nike SB. Why do u think brands like those choose leather?
It’s just the best for skateboarding. It’s more durable with skateboarding. A skateboard has to grip tape on, like a kind of sandpaper that you need in order to do your tricks, and this rubs off your shoes super fast. Leather obviously is the most durable material for this.
That’s why there are canvas shoes. This one is a canvas shoe but underneath there is leather. It’s a tricky thing, there are some flames underneath or something. But this is also what skateboarding companies learned throughout the years that a canvas shoe will rip off much faster than leather shoes. That’s why most of the shoes we get are made of leather.