Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Post-Fashion Week Musings from Berlin: Part 1

Freelance writer and translator Emilie Florenkowsky provides Ecco*Eco readers with a three part review of last week's premiere green fashion event in Berlin. (above image: Asandri turban-esque headwear and "travel-inspired" prints, made in Europe)

Last week marked the fifth year of Berlin Fashion Week and the third year of a strong eco presence among the festivities. I visited the Green Showroom, which has become the salon of all things grüne Mode (green fashion) in the German capital. Less in search of eco fashion than of eco fashion business, my visit was about observing how sustainability is finding a home within the industry in Europe. The scene at the swank Hotel Adlon Kempinski – third-time home of the Green Showroom – was more establishment than avant-garde. I took this as a herald for the near future – more brands adopting better practices, catering to a new client base and perpetuating business as usual. New materials and production guidelines are achieving ever more mainstream appeal. 

Here are some vignettes from the Green Showroom:

Studio Ecocentric's collection "Für Immer" (forever) interprets classics from the 30s to the 70s, creating wardrobe staples from materials like plant-dyed wild silk, produced in northern India by fellow-Berlin textile agency Lebenskleidung.

Salmon leather, a re-purposed by-product of the fishing industry, adds an edge to the timeless shoe designs of Hamburg's Alina Schuerfeld

Dutch label Jux frees hemp from any leftover hippie connotations and utilizes soy and seagrass fibers for trendy basics like sweater sets and tunics. This perforated seagrass fabric feels as light and supple as it looks. 

Mass producer of costume trinkets, BlackBead Jewellery is exploring alternatives to plastics in their range of petroleum-free, compostable baubles. "Liquid wood" bangles are molded from the pulp of post-consumer paper waste. 

All positive signs of eco fashion's potential for becoming business as usual. But it is actually those doing business as un-usual that will affect real change at the consciousness-changing level. The influence of early "better fashion" luminaries was evident at the trade fair. Katharine Hamnett's ethical slogan t-shirts from the '80s are referenced in "Collection of Hope", the charity label created by students of ESMOD Berlin International University of Fashion.

Jux also tries their hand at message making by paying tribute to their producers…or to their own fair trade practices, depending on one's outlook. 

Stay tuned for part two of Emilie's review tomorrow.

Freelance writer and translator Emilie Florenkowsky has lived in Berlin since 2005. Check out her online journal of art, science and all points in between, META magazine

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