The streetwear superhero shows us around his beloved town.
Ben Birkl is, besides a self-professed sneakerhead and fervent fan of Frankfurt, marketing director for Alpha Industries Europe. The native Frankfurter also happens to be one of those people who make it seem like they have more than 24 hours in their day. From shooting and directing ad campaigns for the streetwear giant to collaborating with some of the coolest brands on the fashion scene and maintaining one serious Instagram account, it all seems to be in a day’s work for Birkl. Here, he dishes on what makes Frankfurt cool and where to go to believe it for yourself.
You work for a brand (& industry) that thrives off the very concept of “cool”. What’s your relationship to Frankfurt, what makes it cool?
Frankfurt is kind of a big city but it feels like it’s a really small town. Everybody knows each other. You can go out by yourself and end up on a table with eight other people. It´s like our company—we are a huge brand but a cool family! That’s what I love about Frankfurt!
If a friend only had 40 hours in the city, where would you recommend she go?
If she’s there over the weekend I would suggest to go to “Markt in Hof“, every Saturday in Sachsenhausen. You can get some coffee there and buy regional stuff from local suppliers. From there she should go to one of the museums like the Museum for Applied Arts. Because you can walk nearly everywhere in Frankfurt, she should walk her way downtown after—over the Main River to get a superb view of the skyline. Take one of the bridges like “Eiserner Steg” or “Alte Brücke”. If she’s down for shopping she should definitely stop at 13 Vintage to get some unique vintage pieces. From there she should go to the Frankfurt “Bahnhofsviertel” which is well known for its multicultural identity. Eat something at one of the various restaurants there and stay around the block till dawn. She can explore so much. It’s also Frankfurt’s Red Light District. No need to be afraid, but she should know. Bars will open up their doors and during summer it gets super crowed on the street. I would recommend the following bars: Pracht, Plank or Amp. As soon as she’s ready for a dance, she can stay in the Viertel or go to Pik Dame. Sometimes the bars turn into open air dance floors when people start dancing on the streets. Be surprised and let the good times roll.
What can we expect to see on the sidewalks of Frankfurt in terms of street style?
You will see a lot women wearing pantsuits or men in suits just because of the city’s financial background. But other than that, Frankfurt’s people really like monochromatic looks. All black, all navy and so on. Top that off with a pair of white sneakers and you got it. There is also a wild bunch of people going really crazy with their looks. Don’t expect to see that very often. But if you do, you’ll know what I mean.
Let’s say you’re taking us for a night out on the town, what would the itinerary for an epic night consist of?
I would start with the perfection of Asian cuisine at Moriki. Go to Bar Ohne Namen downtown after for a few beers. Then to The Parlour after for a few superb drinks. From there I would take you to one of the few off locations that pop up during summer. If they aren’t there for that night I would take to you to Schwedler See. And if you guys are still motivated after dancing your asses off, I would take you to the Robert Johnson in Offenbach. Epic.
And the morning after… where would we nurse our hangovers?
Langosch makes the best hangover cure and breakfast in town. Safe thing. Kaffee Karin serves breakfast till four o’clock if we need a little longer to get up. And I’d include Espresso Bar, because there’s nothing like a good coffee after a hangover and this is the best.
Time for some relaxation—where in town do you head to when you need a break from the grind?
Grüneburgpark! Fein Wasserhäuschen is also healthy and cute place to be. I like to go for a walk with my dog in a wooded area called “Frankfurter Stadtwald”
Any favorite places you take someone out for dinner when you need to impress?
Vai Vai, because their steak is to die for and the location, including the bar inside, is amazing. For eating above Frankfurt, Maintower restaurant. ZenZaKan is the stuff of Pan Asian dreams. And I also really love the location of Heimat, which does the best wines and European cuisine.
Is there any place in Frankfurt you’d never be caught dead in?
Frankfurt’s main shopping street, “Zeil”, on a Saturday.
Time for some shopping—where do we absolutely need to go?
If you had one wish for your city, what would that be?
I would love to have the sea here. Frankfurt am Meer! But it’s just a wish. Beside the fact that it will never happen–I’m totally in love with the city.