Berlin may not hold the coveted title of being a fashion capital, but the city of hedonism and bricolage culture could be paving its way toward another fashion appellation - one of sustainability. It’s assumed that for sustainable methods to survive the fickle trends of fashion it is essential for green to be integrated into the everydayness of the industry. This seems to be an approach that Berlin is instinctively pioneering, through its unique take on consumer education, Fashion Week, online communities and the sustainability image.
It has long been argued that consumer education is key to re-inventing the relationship fashion has with the environment. Berlin openly encourages the education of its consumers, with readily available maps and educational tours. Green Me Berlin provides an easy visual reference guide for consumers, showing them where they can eat, relax and shop sustainably. The city also offers tours once a month through company Green Fashion Tours. These expeditions take consumers to local neighbourhoods and businesses, exposing them to fashion that is ethical and sustainable.
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Fashion Week promotes sustainability
Sustainability is effortlessly woven into the fabric of Berlin’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. Here green is wholeheartedly embraced, not cast to the fringes of the fashion industry. The Neonyt Trade Fair is a central part of this movement and is held in the Kraftwerk building during Fashion Week. The fair holds the Fashionsustain Conference and inspires influencers, bloggers and businesses to approach fashion from both a technological and sustainable standpoint.
The Ethical Fashion Show and Green Showroom are also integral to Berlin’s Fashion Week. These events have recently been brought under the umbrella of the Neonyt Trade Fair, creating a strong core for sustainability. The Ethical Fashion Show celebrates brands which have a positive approach toward ethical and sustainable fashion. While the Green Showroom reveals the latest insights and breakthroughs within renewable fashion.
Online green communities
Bloggers and influencers are continually emerging in support of Berlin’s sustainable fashion. These online platforms allow organic questions and discussions to ensue, developing a sense of community around sustainability issues. Daria Daria utilises podcasts to facilitate such conversations on her blog. Whilst My Green Style focuses on interviews and promoting the positive steps Germany (particularly Berlin) is taking towards sustainable fashion.
Changing the sustainable image
Berlin boasts some notable designers who are embracing sustainability and proving green can be aesthetically pleasing, despite swirling negative connotations. Label Rianna + Nina create looks which are built around re-working vintage clothing and prints. Their work has been heavily featured on Vogue and designs are currently stocked in retailers Browns and Matches. Rianna + Nina create their unparalleled work in a Berlin atelier. Berlin streetwear brands are also exploring the appeal of renewability. Kulson Studios exemplifies this, using recycled bottle caps to make fresh white unisex sneakers. Their label is based in Berlin and manufactures in nearby Portugal.
The positive image of sustainable brands has been further ramped up by online retailers. In Berlin, German retail giant Zalando advocates green methods. Zalando offers a ‘shop sustainably’ section, alongside a ‘shop by sustainable fabrications’ category. The platform has also started taking responsibility for its overstock, revealing collaborations with fashion icons such as Viktor and Rolf. Together the brand and retailer re-use unpurchased Zalando items to create limited capsule collections for online selling.
Berlin’s approach toward sustainability is arguably one that will embed important methods into the fashion landscape, ensuring green is not just a seasonal trend. With investment in consumer knowledge it is hoped that Berlin will continue along this path to forming a sustainable fashion industry. Whilst the German city may not be conquering the more traditional fashion capitals, it is still becoming a true beacon in its own right.
Words: Alana Flood