Do you know where your clothes come from and how they're being made? I’d say: It's time for a fashion revolution!
A couple of weeks ago, the 4th Fashion Revolution Week shook through the fashion industry around the world. It’s a series of global events that gives a voice to those working at the bottom of the fashion production chain.
A growing movement with a pretty serious background: on the 24th April 2013, the Rana Plaza (housing several textile factories) in Bangladesh collapsed and buried many people... This tragedy made consumers around the world wonder who makes their clothes - and under what conditions.
Back to the encouraging facts: People in more than 68 countries organized and joined events, workshops, flash mobs and a worldwide selfie campaign, asking producers and brands: “Who Made My Clothes?!”
Good question, right? After joining some of the many amazing events that the Fash Rev Germany team put on here in Berlin, I thought it’s time to share a few thoughts on why it matters to know where our clothes come from.
// A FASHION REVOLUTION IS HAPPENING IN BERLIN
Without a doubt: Berlin is a mecca for ethical fashion and keeps drawing in sustainable clothing designers and creatives from all over the world. There is a well connected scene and large scale events like the Ethical Fashion Show are getting more and more attention every year…
No wonder that it also is the epicenter of Fashion Revolution Germany. This year, the team took up residency at the beautiful space of Agora Rollberg in Neukölln. Plus, there were a number of side events throughout the city, e.g. by organic fashion store Supermarché in Kreuzberg and other actors of the Berlin ethical fashion scene.
I stopped by at the opening event at Agora - and experienced so much good energy & readiness for change! The launch of FEMNET e.V.'s beautiful Fair Fashion Guide was followed by an interesting panel with the creative minds behind ARMEDANGELS, Ethical Fashion Show Berlin, Viertel Vor & more…
Anyone could swing by and learn more about why fair fashion makes such a difference and meet lots of passionate experts, brands and labels in Berlin - and the awesome team behind Fash Rev Germany.
Part of this dedicated bunch of changemakers is very familiar, friendly face: Carina Bischof, co-founder of upcycling label aluc and the Upcycling Fashion Berlin movement. Back in January, we both had a really inspiring chat about the status quo of fair fashion in Berlin and beyond. You can find the full interview in episode #6 of the GreenMe Berlin podcast (click here).
Opening event Fashion Revolution Week
A question we need to ask more often
Co-organizer Carina Bischof
// WHY BUYING ETHICAL FASHION? LET's GET THINGS CLEAR...
Generally, I’m a big fan of minimalism. Consuming less and focussing on the things we really need is for sure the most eco-friendly choice - and incredibly freeing. Also a good idea: re-using the things that came out of the global production cycle (which is a hell of a lot!).
But there are times where we just need to buy something new. If that’s the case, we should stop being cheap skates and keep an eye on fair production, human rights and clean, organic & sustainable materials.
I tell you: in Berlin, it isn’t! There is such a cool new wave of sustainable chic, plus heaps of modern street wear labels that make fair fashion fun and accessible for everyone. No need to wear hippie pants or earthy, “potato-sacky” clothes anymore.
THE BIGGEST BENEFITS OF BUYING FAIR FASHION
#1 You help saving the planet
Fast fashion factories leave a whole lot of shitty chemicals behind and use massive amounts of energy. So, if you pick organic fabrics, you reduce your carbon footprint and protect your own health, too. After all, it’s what we wear on our skin!
#2 You help the people who make your clothes
I guess you’ve heard about some of the ugly things that happen in the production plants, especially in developing countries. By buying fair trade clothes you make sure that the label cares about it’s people at least as much as about making a profit.
#3 It lasts much longer!
It’s a fact - clothes made from organic, renewable fibers are not only less toxic, but also much more durable! So if higher prices hold you back, do the maths 🙂
#4 You truly appreciate your clothes
Not only does it make you consume less (cause it costs a bit more and lasts longer) - knowing where your clothes come from, who made it, what’s the story behind it… I LOVE every single piece I bought eco and it makes me feel happy to wear them. Plus, they just look and feel SO much better than H&M!
#5 You support and give back to people
Green fashion is not all about the environment. It's about fellow humans, people who either live in less fortunate places than us, or work hard to make a living with their creative crafts. No matter if in India or Berlin, small scale artists and designers need our support to withstand against the fast fashion giants.
The Fashion Revolution Week reminded me that each and everyone of us has a choice. And every piece we consume makes a statement. Let's try to look a bit closer from now on and support those brands who get it right.
But how can we find out who is, without spending hours of research? How can we be sure which clothing brands really care and aren’t just fast fashion in green disguise?
Easy: there are SO many amazing designers, labels and ethical fashion stores in Berlin. Numbers growing. Wanna know which ones to check out first? Here comes my choice:
// ETHICAL FASHION IN BERLIN: MY FAVORITE STORES TO BUY MORE CONSCIOUSLY
1. LOVECO (Friedrichshain)
LOVECO is Berlin’s biggest concept-store for eco-fair fashion. The bright, brick-walled interior, an amazing swing hanging in the middle of the shop and a very friendly team just make you wanna stay. Whether it's clothes, jewelry or accessories - everything they sell is truly beautiful, trendy, hip and approachable. Forget the boring, old-fashioned eco-image, this is the happy future!
P.S. With LOVECO founder Christina, I recorded my very first podcast episode. Check it out here!
2. KALEE STORE (Friedrichshain)
What once started as an atelier for leather bags has now turned into a charming store & manufacture for eco-fair casual- and streetwear for both Him and Her, bags, accessories and small gifts. With a strong desire to live a more conscious, sustainable lifestyle, founder Clarissa asked herself how to reuse the leftovers of her former leather works. The result: their very own sustainable jewelry, handcrafted from recycled leather pieces that would have normally landed in the bin.
3. FOLKDAYS (Kreuzberg 36)
Just a stone’s throw from Kreuzbergs Markthalle Neun you’ll find the marvelous showroom of FOLKDAYS. They’re a young fair fashion label from Berlin, which I instantly fell in love with, as each product is handcrafted and tells us a unique story of far-away cultures. Living out their own passion for artisan products, every piece you find in the store is handmade using the finest materials and represents a specific craft, culture and tradition. With their beautiful products, they build a bridge to artisans in hard-to-reach countries and thus support small local producers to make a living through their craft.
photo: Zoe Spawnton
4. STANDARD - SAUBERE SACHEN (Neukölln North)
One of my best-loved little stores in the Kiez. Katharina and Kathrin are giving all they can to make sustainable, “clean” fashion become a standard (hence why the name). The sell only products made from ecological, natural and fairly sourced materials. Brands and designers are changing regularly and the focus is on pieces that make us look great for more than just one season. Apart from fashion, they also sells a range of ingenious little items to green our lives, such as cosmetics, tea, paper items, liquors, glass ware and more. Again, every piece has its own story - and some make a great guilt-free gift, too. (It’s my no. 1 address for beautiful last-minute birthday shops).
5. WESEN (Neukölln North)
Not far away lies Weserstraße - a looong street that forms the beating heart of this area. It is home to SO many vintage stores, independent designers and innovative Berlin labels. Just like the team at WESEN, a dedicated local design collective, producing exclusive ethical fashion under their label format. With the workshop and atelier in the back, the front is open as a showroom where they sell their own creations, complemented by a selection of like-minded designers, making things like eco-fair boots, underwear and jewelry. All have the same goal: making top notch products that follow the highest ethical standards - and look dazzingly good. The showroom is an open place to meet and exchange, so swing by and say hi.
P.S. WESEN just moved into their brand new space at Tellstraße 7, 12045 Berlin (corner Weserstr.)
6. SÜßSTOFF (Neukölln South)
A bit further South in Schillerkiez (right near Tempelhofer Feld), this colorful little store sells clothes, accessories and artful gifts, which are fairly produced and 100% vegan. It is run by fair fashion designer Jenny - the face behind the beautiful organic label Börd Shört. Süßstoff is her atelier & store, where she also sells other amazing eco fair brands for women and men - some of them come right from the neighborhood, too. Next to clothes, the offer ranges from organic cosmetics, creative laptop cases and fine handmade jewelry to playful accessories, made by Jenny using leftover materials from her Bördshört lines.
7. BOHAZEL (Neukölln South)
Further up the same street, this homely store has turned into one of my new favorite places in Schillerkiez. You’ll find ethnic designs on handwoven rugs, colorful cushions & other epic crafts work. Inspired by the owners travels to Morocco, Vietnam & other places, it makes you dream of foreign cultures AND supports small scale craftsmanship. Come by with an open heart & get inspired.
Not to forget the charming makramé plant hangers that you can either buy, OR learn to make yourself in one of Bohazel's awesome workshops.
8. UN AUTRE VOODOO (Kreuzberg 61)
In its new location near Südstern, this friendly eco design store has found a bright large space to showcase local talents & introduce more people to the concept of slow shopping. That means: stop by, have a chat and hearing inspiring stories about the ideas and origins of the products you buy. Owned by a lovely French couple, you’ll find hand-made, sustainably and locally produced gems by international, but Berlin-based designers. Each artist gets a limited period to showcase, meaning you’ll always find something new.
9. OF/BERLIN (Kreuzberg 61)
Of/Berlin is a beautiful design store in West-Kreuzberg, selling carefully chosen fashion, food and design products to fall in love with. All are made by up-and-coming Berlin designers and small manufactures. If you’re look for a unique gift, a delightful accessory for your home or simply wanna try something new while supporting local craftsmanship and creative food producers - this is your go to place. From homemade chocolates with fairly traded beans from Belize, to handcrafted jewelry plotted in Berlin’s backstreets to the stunning organic collection of travel bags by Marine et Marin - there is simply no other way but being inspired by the incredible talents that live in this city.
10. Wertvoll Berlin (Prenzlauer Berg)
A real institution in Berlin’s ethical fashion scene, Wertvoll has been the first eco-fashion store in the city! Opened in times when hardly anyone heard about fair fashion before, this pretty boutique has done an amazing job to put the spotlight on elegant, smart and high quality labels, vegan shoes and fairly produced accessories. With established brands ranging from Armed Angels to People Tree Jan’nJune, they’re proving that eco fashion is exciting, sophisticated and feels amazing to wear.
// MORE TIPS AROUND ETHICAL FASHION IN BERLIN (AND BEYOND)
- Hungry for more tips for Berlin? Check out the GreenMe BLN map and filter for "ethical shops"
- If you want to learn more and see where Berlin’s most creative green fashion labels and store owners have set up shop, then join the lovely team of . Happening every 1st Friday of the month.
- Read up more about why we need a Fashion Revolution
- Download Femnet's fair fashion guide here for FREE.
- Book tip: Let my people go surfing - The Education of a Reluctant Businessman** (by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard). I listened to the audiobook last month and it absolutely inspired me and opened my eyes to many things, I really wish that many many people out there get to read or listen to that story.
Always thought your actions don’t matter? See, it’s not true! Every single piece you buy makes a difference. You choose if it’s a good one or not.
Now, let's join the revolution & support the people who are making this world a f*** beautiful place for everyone
[Photo credit title image: Dinko Verzi]
WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO ETHICAL FASHION? IN BERLIN - OR WORLDWIDE.
Do you find it easier to make good choices? Or is there something that holds you back?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments (right at the bottom of this page).
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