More and more smaller stores are stocking organic textiles that are worthy of the name. But before now, anyone looking for sustainable sneakers or trainers in Cologne was likely to be disappointed. This has all changed with Sneakers Unplugged, Europe’s first store dedicated to stylish, fair-trade sneakers made of organic – and, in most cases vegan – materials. Cool kicks by labels such as Flamingos’ Life from Spain or Genesis Footwear from Germany are more than a match for their pricey competition. And they also happen to be free from residues and chemical additives and produced under fair conditions.
Alte Wallgasse 5, 50672 Cologne. Open Mon–Sat from 11 am to 7 pm
Köski Royal in Braunsfeld is setting new standards in kiosk culture. Owner Charlotte Mieß-Paulssen also sells stylish interior accessories and green plants. Style is very much matched by substance here: you can look forward to espresso brewed on a proper machine with beans from local roastery Tim & Sebastian’s. Or scrumptious walnut and maple syrup buns and homemade banana bread. There is even a small area where you can sit and savour every sip of your freshly brewed coffee. But its ‘no boozing on site’ policy means you’ll have to move on if you want to drink the Kölsch you buy here.
Kitschburger Str. 247, 50933 Cologne. Open Tues–Sun from 9 am to 6 pm
Graphic designer and publisher Olga Funk has been running Cologne’s first and only independent print publications shop since 2020. Located near Hansaring, this minimalist pop-up store provides black-and-white-proof that the printed word is still very much alive and well. Her simple yet elegant wooden shelves are filled with internationally recognised design, art and lifestyle publications, as well as independently produced, high-quality special interest magazines.
Our tip: be sure to check out Cologne-based fanzine Grapefruits, which showcases cool composers and sound artists, both past and contemporary, in each issue.
Krefelder Str. 7–9, 50670 Cologne. Open Tues–Fri from 12 to 7:30 pm and Sat from 11 am to 5 pm
If you’re looking for highly individual second-hand clothing, Polyestershock in Ehrenfeld is the place to come. Located just off the busy Venloer Strasse, this small shop with a big heart has been around since 2010, selling tailor-made vintagewear from bygone decades. From classic polka-dot two-pieces from the 1950s to floral 1970s maxi-dresses and flamboyant throwbacks to the colourful 1980s, lovers of vintage clothing will be in their element browsing the racks here. Incidentally, if an item of clothing doesn’t quite fit, owner and fashion designer Anna Krus will alter it right away in her little studio at no extra charge.
Geisselstr. 14, 50823 Cologne. Opening hours Mon–Fri from 12 to 7 pm and Sat from 11 am to 6 pm
Contrary to what its name suggests, Underdog Recordstore has been one of the most popular record stores in Cologne for over 20 years now. Originally specialising in punk and hardcore, the small store just off Hansaring now stocks guitar music of all descriptions. Looking for the latest LP by Dry Cleaning or Dinosaur Jr.? You can find them here – even the limited edition in coloured vinyl. As well as vinyl, you can buy concert and festival tickets or seek expert advice from owner Lars “Hoffi” Hoffmann – provided he hasn’t disappeared from view behind one of his countless record boxes!
Ritterstr. 52, 50668 Cologne. Opening hours Mon–Fri from 11:30 am to 7 pm / Sat from 11 am to 6 pm
(by Katja Peglow)