On my recent visit to Berlin I joined a group of curious and conscious consumers seeking to learn more about Berlin’s growing ethical fashion scene.
Joining a Green Fashion Tour provides both a perfect introduction to Berlin’s thriving ethical fashion scene, as well as the opportunity to experience Berlin from a local’s perspective – connecting with the city’s best kept secrets and places your ‘flaneuring’ may not necessarily lead you to.
Our tour was led by Reiting, a passionate expert in the field of ethical fashion, who shared a wealth of knowledge relating to production processes, social and environmental impact of the garment industry, and ways in which we could individually change our fashion habits to create positive impact.
We started the tour huddled around a piece of fabric with a map of the world drawn on it – from here we mapped the journey of our clothes we were wearing for the day: from raw material, to factory production and on to point of consumption. It was an eye-opening starting point and challenged us to consider where exactly our clothes came from and what impact they may have on their journey to our wardrobes.
Our tour took us by foot and by bus to five fashion studios and boutiques, each engaging with ethical fashion from a different design perspective. Our first stop was Studio Hertzberg a boutique housing a collection of local labels utilising reclaimed, repurposed and recycled materials including a collection of lingerie which gave a sensual and sassy new life to reclaimed fabrics.
Next stop was Standard Saubere Sachen [meaning – standard clean things] where the coffee-lover in me rejoiced at finding an espresso cup and saucer made from a composite of ground coffee waste and natural wood polymers. The brain-child of German start-up Kaffee Form – the cup takes on the appearance of a ceramic but upon grasping it in your hand, seems lighter with the tactility of plastic. Ingenious AND sustainable.
The shopping aspect was equally as enjoyable as wandering the streets of Berlin; enjoying the street art hiding around each corner and taking in the vibrant urban culture in the hip pockets of one of my favourite cities.
There was a wonderful presence of Australian-led design on the tour too – not only had Reiting spent time studying fashion at UTS in Sydney, our next stop was by way of Australian fashion designer Kate Pinkstone who had set up fashion studio SHIO five years ago, and is now firmly established in Berlin’s growing community of ethical fashion design practitioners. Kate shared her design process repurposing garments and reclaiming fabrics to create her collections, also speaking about designing to minimise waste and designing to snub fast fashion demands.
Beyond the expert insights and conversations, the tour was made even more insightful with an ‘open door’ by the designers who shared with us a peek into their work studios situated behind their retail spaces. This provided a great insight into the design processes engaged to make each garment: from testing and documenting fabrics, developing minimal waste patterns, and crafting the garments individually no less than metres away from where you may purchase them. If only every garment label provided such open and transparent access to their production processes – sigh!
Although the tour came to an end, we were each equipped with a Green Fashion Map of Berlin to continue our ethical fashion journey. We were also equipped with new perspectives on fashion, and a challenge to improve our wardrobe investments by thinking ethically and sustainably.
For further information on Green Fashion Tours and for upcoming tour dates visit their website, www.greenfashiontours.com
Feature image by Green Fashion Tours, Berlin.
This blog post is a personal account of the Green Fashion Tour experience and has not been sponsored in any way.