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  • The Code: The Berlin fetish and clubwear store granting insider access

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The Code: The Berlin fetish and clubwear store granting insider access

The Code is not just about clothes – here, Berliners and tourists alike can gain the knowledge they need to enter the local kinky club scene.

Clockwise (from top left): Ramona Gomez, Isabelle Reinery, Tina Dubrovsky, Ippolita Zamperetti, Michelle Döring (store manager), Dor Ramon (founder and CEO). Photo: Makar Artemev

“Welcome to The Code. Do you plan to attend a specific club or event?” is the first thing you’ll hear when you walk through the door of the high-end fetish-, kink- and clubwear shop, fittingly located on Köpenicker Straße between KitKatClub and Tresor, two of Berlin’s most famous nightlife destinations. Since 2020, The Code has been providing clubbers with the right attire for their next night out, but also something much more valuable: insider access to the scene.

We don’t want to be just a clothing shop.

To the sound of light techno, shoppers can browse the racks – sorted by designer rather than gender – for the outfit of their dreams. The shop stocks 25 hand-selected designers, 20 of which come from Berlin, offering items for every occasion: sultry lace skirts, latex tops, colourful bodysuits, holographic cardigans and (vegan) leather harnesses and chokers. It also features street-style pieces, backpacks and jewellery with secret compartments (for “everything that goes on in the club toilets”, as The Code puts it).

No matter if you’re bound for a drug-fuelled rave at Berghain, the playful realms of House of Lunacy or the more hardcore party Klub Verboten, The Code caters to the whole spectrum of what’s understood to be a good time in Berlin. And although the focus clearly lies on high-quality garments and the latest fashion, it’s not just about the clothes.

“When people come here, we give them–” founder and CEO Dor Ramon does two air quotes “–‘the code’.” He’s referring to essentially every kind of knowledge clubbers need when they go out: the dress code and the code of conduct at an event or club, but also what events are on and where they’re most likely to enjoy themselves.

In the store, a screen by the entrance displays Resident Advisor’s upcoming events, while the shop assistants – all seasoned clubbers, former performers and models – help pick the right gear. Having moved from Tel Aviv to Berlin in 2015, Ramon himself was a regular partygoer for many years, learning the ins and outs of Berlin’s club culture. This experience is integral to the concept of the shop.

The Code offers everything from clothes to accessories to sex toys. Photo: @achso.creative

While The Code is a clothing store first and foremost, it’s also an event space, a community hub, an entry point for the curious, and, in Ramon’s words, “the fusion of Berlin’s underground scenes”. In a way, The Code acts as a custodian of these subcultures by providing a platform to their members and creating a space where like-minded people can meet and mingle.

The shop’s backroom, reminiscent of a small dark room with its pitch-black walls, serves as a space for monthly art shows and pop-ups that aim to highlight local designers, photographers and painters.

“We do our best to help and work with artists,” Ramon says. “When we do exhibitions here, we have a DJ and performers. The artist brings people from different scenes to the store, and even if they just want to see the art and won’t buy anything, it’s great to gather a lot of people for a good reason: to celebrate art from the scene.” In June, The Code hosted the launch of a new collection from Cyberesque, one of the city’s longest-running fetish designers.

Photo: @achso.creative

Another service to the scene The Code provides is the indoctrination of those new to the game. Often, next to gentrification and the government, unknowledgeable tourists are blamed for what’s perceived by many as the decline of Berlin’s club culture. But Ramon is uninterested in this kind of finger-pointing, and not just because tourists are part of his customer base: “I’m happy that they come [to the shop], because at least we can give them some knowledge about where they’re going, knowledge that I didn’t get when I first came to KitKat by myself.”

“Tourists will come; this is the capital of Germany. Especially now with UNESCO [recognition] – it will just make it bigger. The only thing that I can do as a business is to support the community and educate the newcomers on how to behave when they’re going to KitKat, Sisyphos, Ritter Butzke, Pornceptual, Gegen. And it is a matter of selection at the end of the day. The club needs to choose the right people,” Ramon says. “You cannot blame the tourists for trying to get inside the club.”

Last year’s Shapes of Us runway show. Photo: @achso.creative

What The Code prides itself on most is its own active participation in the clubbing scene. Their annual calendar is bursting with events, from their independent happenings like the shop’s activities for Pride week in July to their involvement at fetish and kink events across Berlin, like their programming for the German Fetish Ball Week in May, which saw a dominatrix tea party at the shop.

In June, The Code decked out the basement floor for the eighth anniversary of KitKatClub’s FourPlay, complete with a theme (“Kindergarten”), walking performances and a DJ lineup. “Of course, it’s promotion,” says Ramon. “But for me, it’s more that we have something to say, so we’re like, let’s do it. If we stop doing [events], we will just be a clothing shop – we don’t want to be just a clothing shop.”

The level of involvement with the scene’s biggest players is notable given that The Code has been in business for just four years. Ramon’s background in hospitality and event management has certainly been helpful for the current job, but his feel for and knowledge of the scene is what really makes The Code a success.

It also appears that the consent culture emphasised in club culture has made its way into his business approach. “I’m not pushing, I’m not running after people, I’ll give it time. I think stuff needs to come in its own time,” Ramon says of building partnerships.

Shapes of Us in 2023: DJs hit the decks underneath the light installations at Dark Matter. Photo: @achso.creative

In July, the shop’s now-annual highlight, Shapes of Us 2.0, returns for its second year. Underneath the glowing installations of Dark Matter’s SOMMERLIGHTS and as part of Berlin Fashion Week, The Code is putting on a runway show featuring 28 looks exclusively created by the designers stocked at the shop, bolstering club- and kinkwear’s status as legitimate fashion.

After the show, some of Berlin’s most renowned DJs – Boiler Room’s Jamaica Suk, Berghain’s Boris, and Philipp Gorbachev – will hit the decks until late into the night. The name ‘Shapes of Us’ is a nod to all the different subcultures The Code seeks to encompass.

“For me, it’s my flagship event,” says Ramon. “It really represents all of who we are: fun, fashion, fetish and art.”

  • The Code Köpenicker Str. 79, shop online here, and follow The Code on Instagram at @the_code_berlin.
  • Shapes of Us 2.0 July 5, starts 20:00, Dark Matter, tickets here.