â Address: Reutlinger StraÃe 63 D-72555 Metzingen â
When a friend of ours got his first job as an engineer in a renowned German firm with contacts abroad, he realised that he needed a new outfit. Trainers, jeans, t-shirt and pullover were confined to his spare time from then on. He lived in a small town about half an hour away from Stuttgart in the south of Germany. He could have found something there or gone to Stuttgart, the big city with lots of department stores. Yet, he went to Metzingen, an even smaller town, also near Stuttgart but in a different direction and bought two outfits for the price of one. Later, when people asked him what kind of job he had in his firm, he only opened his jacket and pointed to the brand name. It read BOSS. That was about 40 years ago. He can't make this joke nowadays. Neither BOSS nor shopping in Metzingen are insiders' tips any more.
I've always known about the possibility of finding quality clothes for bargain prices in Metzingen but went there only last year for the first time. The reason was that our friend told us that everything was very simple if not a bit primitive. Scrumming and no real changing cubicles didn't attract me. In my imagination Metzingen was one big, cheap, discount style fashion store. There are sales in our town, too, and I'm not so badly off that I can't pay the full price if I need or want something new. Another reason is that I'm not a great shopper anyway. I buy things I like and am faithful to them for a long time. (If all my country people were like me, Germany wouldn't be so well off economically).
Over the years tales about the simplicity of the stores - BOSS didn't remain the only firm with a factory outlet in Metzingen - disappeared but the ones about crowds in the shops and queues in front of the changing cubicles have remained. I finally decided to see for myself. "Once seen is better than a hundred times heard," as the Chinese say. The information that Metzingen has become the most successful fashion outlet in Europe with more than 60 brands, to a large extent Flagship Outlet Stores, and more than 3 million visitors annually, many from Asian and Arab states, aroused my curiosity.
Metzingen lies roughly between Stuttgart, the capital of the Land Baden-WÃ¼rttemberg and TÃ¼bingen, one of the oldest university towns of Germany. One can reach it by train in under half an hour from both directions. A shopping shuttle takes shoppers from Stuttgart Airport, Tourist Information Terminal 3, directly to Metzingen on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Seven hotels with predominantly foreign guests offer shopping shuttles from door to door. For someone who doesn't speak the language, hasn't got much time and/or is interested only in shopping this is a good offer, of course. But it means that they bypass the town centre which is a pity. Metzingen must seem tiny with its *approximately 21.999* inhabitants (found on the homepage of the Metzingen tourist board) for someone coming from an Asian megalopolis. I takes only about 15 minutes to walk from the station to the outlet stores. What one sees on the way must make every foreigner happy. Metzingen looks 'typically German' (I know what foreigners think!): a bit old-fashioned, picturesque, orderly, clean. It sports a unique ensemble of seven historic wine press houses standing on a large square. They, the vineyards surrounding the town and the Viticulture Museum are testimonials of the Viticulture tradition of the area. The square in front of the old town hall (mid 17th century) looks like an open-air living room, several cafÃ©s and restaurants have tables and chairs outside, nearly the whole square is covered with them.
From this square it's only some more steps until one reaches a wide street and a large square where the many outlet stores are located. Boy, was I surprised! Big, modern, good-looking buildings everywhere! The HUGO BOSS building is clearly the centre, after all everything started here when this Metzingener firm started its outlet business in the 1970s. It has three storeys with over 5.000mÂ² on which the whole range of Boss fashion is shown.
I had chosen a Monday in September for my visit and arrived a bit before noon. That was wise because there were only few people around. Three million visitors a year mean about 8.500 a day. Considering that in the cold winter months there'll be hardly anybody around one can imagine what's going on in the shops at summer weekends. Not for people suffering from ochlophobia (fear of crowds)!
The next surprise came when I entered the BOSS shop: an elegant interior, many changing cubicles, friendly shop-assistants. This was also true for all the other shops. I can't remember how many I visited, but I saw enough to correct my preconception and change my attitude towards Metzingen. I'm not going to name all brands here, let me just name some in order to whet your appetite should you belong to the tribe of thrifty shoppers. Adidas, Armani, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Hugo Boss, Levi's, Milka, Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren, Reebok, Samsonite, Swarowski, Swatch, Timberland, Tommy Hilfinger, WMF.
You get price discounts of 30-70% throughout the whole year. As if this weren't enough, there are sometimes special sales with discounts of 80%. A bit tucked away are some small houses from the early years in which special offers are sold. They conjure up the image I had of Metzingen. They're cramped with clothes and customers and it's certainly no pleasure to try something on in the tiny changing cubicles there. I saw a Chinese family admiring Father who had put on a dark red jacket which cost next to nothing. Together with his white trousers and white shirt he looked very stylish. I told him so and they all smiled happily at me. Normally, I don't address people and tell them what I think about their outfit, but on that day I was in the mood. When I saw a man in a too tight anorak admiring himself in a mirror, I simply had to tell him that it looked like the skin of a sausage. He wasn't any too pleased, but then his friend added, "Which is about to explode!"
A friend had advised me to take a fat wallet with me because one always found something in Metzingen one hadn't thought of, but which - once seen - one simply had to have. Yet, I wasn't lured into spending too much money even with the low prices. An obstacle is that I have to try clothes on before I can buy them and I hate that. I'm not a teenager who enjoys herself spending hours and hours trying on things and not buying anything in the end! What I bought with substantial reductions were several bars of MILKA chocolate which can't be found in normal supermarkets, a pair of jeans from JOOP! (I don't know if the brand is known in the UK), a polo shirt from BOSS and a watch from SWATCH. Rather modest compared with what other visitors carried away. I wonder what was in the bags of a group of Arab women in ankle length hijabs? Maybe elegant shoes and sexy underwear?
To come to a conclusion: If you find yourself somewhere between Frankfurt and Munich and have some time left for a detour at the beginning of the week and early in the day when the working population isn't out and about, you should consider a trip to Metzingen to fill up your wardrobe. You can get twice as many things from well-known fashion brands with the money you'd spend at home.
Open: Mon - Fri 10 am - 8 pm / Sat 9 am - 8 pm
*Please don't message me. I know!