04/08/2017 – More than just a trend? — auf Deutsch lesen

Fashion Week Berlin and Sustainability

Looking through the lens of sustainability, a walk around Berlin Fashion Week in July 2017 brought some interesting discoveries to light.


© Venette Waste


© Monkee Genes

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This outing highlighted that sustainable production and operations really have “arrived” and are being embraced by brands, manufacturers and consumers. The “hippy eco image” of the past is being superseded by a natural and more caring approach to resources, workers and production conditions. Production volumes and locations are being challenged and where necessary, alternatives are being found. The industry has finally grasped that it is our future that is ultimately at stake!

Let’s just retrace our footsteps

Perhaps not surprisingly, our first stop was the twin fairs Ethical Fashion and Green Showroom, both of which are wholly devoted to organic fashion and have found a new and fitting home in the iconic Funkhaus Berlin. The exhibitors are even trendier than before, as sustainable fashion becomes ever more “normal” and starts muscling in with the conventional brands.

Among the highlights of this event were the stand by the Web Fashion Academy, created in cooperation with the Italian “Venette Waste” project, and the presentation by its founder Rossana Diana, who carved out a name for herself after working for Vivienne Westwood for many years. If Italy, one of the world’s greatest forces in the world of fashion, is giving sustainability a chance, there is no doubt that people are going to sit up and listen. The focus of this latest push on sustainability remains firmly on design and style, as the one should never exclude the other. Even Italian textile guru Vittorio Giomo, who has long since been 'part of the furniture' in the design, colour and trend scene, no longer introduces himself as a designer or consultant but as a “sustainable thinker”, appearing as such at both fairs.

A glance at Premium, Seek Show and Selvedge Run

Premium at Gleisdreieck, which together with Panorama is deemed one of the most important hubs at the Berlin trade shows, is seen as a gauge for the overall mood within the industry. Not surprisingly, the majority of exhibitors appeared to be pleased with the outcome of this event. The exhibitors included the Düsseldorf-based label Wunderwerk, which was launched in 2012 and features sustainable and fair-trade fashion. What made this company opt for Premium? In conversation with textile network, company founder Heiko Wunder explained: “Premium was as always a great success for our business and was rounded off nicely with a fashion show at Ethical Fashion. We were invited to the show as a special guest on the back of our Get-Together Event at one of our Berlin stores. I’d say that Premium is the right fair for us because it attracts all the buyers and decision makers currently in the market and we also come across customers who aren’t necessarily looking for a sustainable collection but simply love our fashion and its quality, knowing they’ll receive real value for money. Many are positively surprised to see that we produce our products not only sustainably but also to a high standard of quality in Europe.”

The Seek Show, which is staged together with Bright, located in the Arena by the River Spree, not only spotlights established brands but also interesting new labels. Discovering the stories behind these labels is a fascinating undertaking. Take Monkee Genes, for example, which boldly prints its T-shirts with the slogan “no blood no sweat no tears no slave labour no child labour”. The label from the UK not only produces a cool, trendy yet ethical denim collection but has also founded its own charity, which supports, among others, a Children’s Foundation in Bangladesh as it attempts to open its mostly young customers’ eyes to the perils of “fast fashion”.

Kings of Indigo, established in 2012 by a ‘genuine denim’ expert in Amsterdam, sells sustainably produced denim styles in more than 12 countries. The company uses recycled materials as well as organic cotton and hemp, whilst supporting the Fair Wear Foundation, and revealing the names of its fabric producers (almost all of which are in Europe). The enterprise also attaches importance to quality workmanship, ensuring that the garments last for many years.

Selvedge Run focuses on companies that give priority to durability, traditional production techniques and craft. The exhibits mainly comprise denim and leather, but also products from other lifestyle segments which stand in opposition to the values espoused by our disposable society. Sports d’Epoque from France, for example, breathes new life into historical sports strips, e.g. from cycling and rugby. The garments, which are designed with great attention to detail, are produced exclusively in Portugal and France.

Indigo People, which had a stand both at Selvedge Run and the Ethical Fashion Show, is synonymous with traditional techniques from Asia, craftsmanship passed down the generations and the use of genuine indigo, coupled with authentic and timeless denim designs. The buyers of these garments subscribe not only to traditional dyeing and textile techniques but also to sustainable projects and genuine denim rarities.

And why Berlin?

In conversation with textile network, the brains behind the Munich-based label “Phil & Lui” explained: “We exhibited at Premium last year and it was a great way to establish new contacts and refresh old ones.” What sets Phil & Lui apart from its competitors is its ability to combine organic and fair with design and style, whilst providing a rounded package of quality, pleasant tactile properties, colours and washes, as well as an interesting back story.

by Reiner Knochel for textile network