Fashion Open Studio invites you to a tour of Berlin’s most radical designers

By Orsola de Castro

1 week ago

JOIN US 19-20 January  2021

Fashion Open Studio, Fashion Revolution’s showcasing initiative, invites you to Berlin to join us in a virtual vavavoom of extraordinary and forward thinking fashion. For Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin, partnering with the Berlin Senate and MBFW and Fashion Revolution Germany, we are curating an important series of online events aimed at reconsidering the role of the fashion industry in a post-covid scenario.

What is the future of fashion? What lies ahead now that the pandemic has exposed so many fault lines in the way our society operates? Clothes play a crucial role in the everyday lives of the people who wear them, the people who make them, and the environment we all share: how can we redress our culture, our industry and our personal values to embrace the changes we all need to make to avoid a climate and human crisis?

One way forward is to break the oligopoly whereby very very few mainstream brands dominate over 95% of the market, to make space for smaller, innovative brands, giving them the visibility their commitment deserves and introducing them to a new mainstream audience. If smaller, artisanal, independent, handmade, innovative labels were as ubiquitous as their un-sustainable counterparts, their products would be not just more available, but also more normalised. Sure, they could never be as cheap as the cheapest, but they could indeed rival and surpass many premium and luxury brands when it comes to quality of materials and make. So why aren’t they everywhere now that so many are looking for alternatives? Because our present system recognises only scale and growth, rewards unethical and unsustainable practices, cut-throat business models and promotes quantity over quality at every step of the supply chain. Everything else is deemed immature, irrational, unfit for purpose: creative, sure, but what is creativity compared to millions of sales?

And yet, if we allowed these brands to flourish and be the best they can be, small but perfectly formed, if we replicated thousands and thousands of small success stories all over the world and put as many as possible right next to the fashion giants on our high streets, which these days look the same from Milan to Mumbai, then we would be truly providing choice. Fast fashion and fast luxury don’t provide choice, endless runs of identically made products aren’t choice: they are an imposition. Choice is to be able to choose from many, not to select from a few. Which is why this FOS x MBFW programme is so precious, because it plays alongside the order but innovates spectacularly.

Your support, your viewings, your eyes on our program of independent designer showcases and intriguing insider conversations will help us cement radical thinking, will show you that the sparks that will form the new fashion firmament are alive and kicking and happening all over the place.

Why Berlin? Berlin is a focal fashion point, and most importantly, a fashion city with an established reputation for sustainable innovation and creativity, an ideal place to give visibility to a different way to showcase, one that we hope will influence several other cities in the future. Berlin could be one of the epicentres of a massive shift the entire fashion industry is clamouring for, the kind of fashion showcasing 3.0, the place where tables are turned and new habits are created, in line with a regenerative and sustainable fashion future. Berlin is cool, one of the coolest cities in Europe, and it lends itself perfectly to the image we want to associate with future fashion: creative, iconoclastic, irreverent, life changing.

But Berlin is only one stop in this journey, and over the coming months, culminating during Fashion Revolution Week 19-25 April 2021, FOS will take you all over the world, discussing topics as varied as heritage, technological innovation, new (and ancient) materials and techniques, and showcasing fashion as fashion will be: rigorously transparent, inclusive, regenerative, providing dignified work to those who work in its supply chains, and meaningful, long lasting clothes to those who wear it.

Change begins with new and emerging talent, and Fashion Open Studio gives designers an alternative way to present themselves and their collections via interactive workshops and by opening their studios to the public.

Open Studios. Five Berlin-based designers have been selected to host a series of digital workshops, studio tours and demonstrations: Anekdot, Emeka, Buki Akomolafe, Church of the Hand, and Karen Jessen. Access to the designers’ studios will be via Instagram @fashionopenstudio and at www.mbfw.berlin.

 

Designer mentoring programme. As well as a series of five live interactive digital Open Studios, the programme will champion and showcase the work of five Berlin-based designers who are leading the way towards greater sustainability in their practice, each with a different approach: Soup Archive, #DAMUR, CRUBA, Fade Out Label, and social enterprise pioneers People Berlin. These designers are part of a mentoring programme with Fashion Open Studio to help maximise their positive impact. We will also be highlighting the results of the FOS and Mercedes-Benz mentoring sessions with the ten finalists of the 35th International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Fashion Accessories in Hyéres.

 


Curated Talks. A program of curated talks to contextualise and challenge the mainstream industry as we see it now, in the middle of a pandemic, and its role in the future. Looking at topics like Luxury, Arts and Culture and Activism, we will hear from emerging designers and stellar business professionals, each committed to making changes and encouraging solutions in their daily fashion practices. Speakers and moderators include Céline Semaan, founder of Slow Factory; Michael Beutler, Sustainable Operations Director, Kering; journalist and labour rights activist Aditi Mayer; Berlin-based designer Buki Akomolafe; and Dio Kurazawa, founder The Bear Scouts.

For the full FOS x MBFW programme and to register for the events, please see here.