Against the grain

A group of ber­lin de­sign­ers is re­sist­ing ‘fast fash­ion’ to cre­ate their own style of re­cy­cled chic.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING - By Yan­nick PaSQUET

While clothes gi­ants h&M and Zara are dom­i­nat­ing global street wear trends, a group of Ber­lin de­sign­ers is re­sist­ing “fast fash­ion” to cre­ate their own style of re­cy­cled chic.

The floor of Daniel Kroh’s workshop near Ber­lin Cen­tral Sta­tion is lit­tered with piles of orange over­alls and the flu­o­res­cent re­flec­tor jack­ets worn by Ger­man rail­way work­ers.

They are the raw ma­te­ri­als for this de­signer, who cuts and dyes the scraps to make men’s fash­ion.

“i seek traces of authen­tic­ity,” Kroh ex­plains about his unique cre­ations, his an­swer to cheap and mass-pro­duced gar­ments made for the world in far­away tex­tile work­shops.

he and a grow­ing band of Ber­lin de­sign­ers spe­cialise in giv­ing new life to tex­tile waste to pro­duce trendy and high-qual­ity prod­ucts.

Kroh also uses the blue work pants of car­pen­ters, which would oth­er­wise likely be burned in a garbage in­cin­er­a­tor, to make new tai­lored clothes for the city’s hippest fash­ion pioneers. The trend, a stance against waste and over­con­sump­tion, is not a new idea, the de­sign­ers say.

“My mother and my grand­mother ... made new skirts with pieces from dresses or of­f­cuts from coats, just to be eco­nom­i­cal,” says ital­ian de­signer Carla Cixi, who has lived in Ber­lin for five years.

Ce­cilia Palmer, another fash­ion de­signer in the Ger­man cap­i­tal, lamented that in to­day’s world “we throw away clothes be­cause of a miss­ing but­ton or a bro­ken zip­per.”

The de­signer, who is in her 30s, or­gan­ises par­ties where ev­ery­one brings clothes they no longer want to trade for other pieces. Par­tic­i­pants can also make new clothes with the sew­ing ma­chines pro­vided.

The big idea of the project? “Con­sume dif­fer­ently,” says Palmer, who de­cries the fact that tonnes of cloth­ing end up in the garbage each year.

Th­ese de­sign­ers are re­belling against what they dub “dis­pos­able fash­ion.”

“it’s a scan­dal that some brands sell clothes that will be worn just two or three times” be­fore they are con­sid­ered out­dated, said Cixi, whose cro­cheted cre­ations re­quire hours of work.

Shop­ping at global fash­ion re­tail chains “is like go­ing to a fast-food joint to eat ham­burg­ers.

You feel bad af­ter­wards,” says Kroh, who scoffed at mass mar­ket

clothes as hav­ing “no soul.” The de­sign­ers com­plain that from Athens to Oslo, euro­pean youth wear the same slim-fit jeans pro­duced in Bangladesh or Cambodia, with mil­lions sold at un­beat­able prices.

it’s a fash­ion that pleases ev­ery­one but “ends up be­ing all the same,” adds Cixi

each jacket or suit made by Kroh in­cludes ex­pla­na­tions about its ori­gin.

eu­ge­nie Sch­midt and Mariko Taka­hashi, who also cre­ated a re­cy­cled cloth­ing la­bel, have also opted to “tell the story” of each dress or pair of pants from their workshop in the for­mer east Ber­lin.

“The more a garment is worn, the more it con­tains of the his­tory of the per­son who wore it,” says Sch­midt, show­ing off a part­trans­par­ent pink cre­ation with stains on the sleeves.

“Th­ese are traces of paint,” she adds, ex­plain­ing that the sweat­shirt’s last owner was a painter.

The catch with re­cy­cled cloth­ing, of­ten pro­duced in labour­in­ten­sive ways, is that it re­mains un­af­ford­able for many.

A jacket can eas­ily cost more than US$540 (RM1,746).

The de­sign­ers recog­nise that their style still serves a niche mar­ket.

But they proudly de­fend it, de­nounc­ing the fact that the big chains sell T-shirts for as lit­tle as €5 (RM22).

A new­comer among the megare­tail­ers, ir­ish chain Pri­mark, has used very low prices – with­out ad­ver­tis­ing – to lure tens of thou­sands to each store open­ing in europe.

in Ber­lin, as else­where, shop­pers pile out of the stores loaded with full bags.

The rock-bot­tom prices are in turn fu­elling con­tro­versy over labour con­di­tions among garment mak­ers.

With an eye for irony, Sch­midt and Taka­hashi make most of their clothes from old h&M and Zara gar­ments. – AFP

clothes with soul: Ger­man fash­ion de­signer daniel Kroh, wear­ing one of his de­signs, poses amidst used work clothes in his workshop and show­room in ber­lin. Kroh de­signs fash­ion for his re­cloth­ings la­bel ex­clu­sively from used work clothes. (Inset) as­sis­tants daniel yuhart (right) and Li­lika Schul­terOster­mann cut through used clothes at Kroh’s workshop and show­room.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.