What Can We Learn From Berlin Fashion Week?

by Joshua Graham on 6 July 2024

Recapping Berlin Fashion Week, fashion features editor Joshua Graham examines the brand's making the German capital a fashion powerhouse.

Recapping Berlin Fashion Week, fashion features editor Joshua Graham examines the brand's making the German capital a fashion powerhouse.

‘Is Berlin the new London?’, my friend texted me on the second day of the German capital’s biannual fashion week. The question stuck in the back of my mind throughout the four-day event, not least because June’s London Fashion Week was so abysmal, but because of the parallels of both fashion scenes being built around the creativity of emerging talents. Of course, recent years have seen London’s creative crowd dwindle due to rising living costs (no thanks to the Tory government) with a mass exodus of graduates abandoning The Big Smoke for cities like Berlin. While that’s (hopefully) going to change now that Labour has taken power, the effects have become palpable. Once the Mecca for sartorial provocation, London’s brands have seen a shift in values towards the commercial. Sparking conversations on identity has given way to keeping heads (and brands) afloat.

Anonymous Club S/S 25

‘When you look at pictures of the 70s, 80s, 90s, [fashion] tells you something about society. It’s a mirror,’ Christiane Arp, the president of the Fashion Council Germany tells me. It seems like an obvious notion of the importance of fashion, but it’s a statement that speaks to her goals in defining Germany’s fashion industry for a global stage. The former editor-in-chief of Vogue Germany traded editorial work for this new mission in 2015 when she co-founded the council as a means to promote the nation’s talents both locally and internationally. While creating a fashion capital is no easy feat, looking at the brands showcased, it’s clear that what Arp isn’t interested in is compromising what makes Berlin, Berlin. 

Haderlump S/S 25

Kicking off the week was the second edition of Intervention from Reference Studios. The creative platform took over Berlin’s Tempodrom to showcase arguably the biggest international pulls of the season, GmbH and Shayne Oliver’s Anonymous Club. The former marks a return to Berlin after choosing Paris as their city of choice since 2017 with Serhat Isik and Benjamin Alexander Huseby presenting ‘Resistance Through Rituals’, a subversive take on menswear classics. Reimagined through their queer, multi-cultural lens. GmbH’s return to their home city was more than a nod to their home city, it’s a reminder that, as global citizens, maybe we should be questioning the hold of esteem that established city’s have on us.

Similarly, Oliver’s Anonymous Club showcased the symbiotic relationship at play between the maker and his environment. Moving from New York in 2023, the city has provided Oliver the space for his creativity to flourish without the voices of what makes a successful designer successful echoed in his ears. Backstage he told the press that it’s in Berlin that he can work ‘without the pressure to live up to the status quo’. The result was a frenetic fusion of sound and fashion as models stomped the concrete venue in Oliver’s fearless reimagining of sportswear staples to an orchestral soundtrack by Billy Bultheel, Total Freedom, and Suutoo that shifted from screams to the calming sounds of nature with every step. 

Intervention also presented the latest from Marie Lueder’s eponymous label. Titled ‘Rubedo’ after the Latin word for ‘redness’ associated with the final steps of alchemy, the collection looked to today’s alchemists with the presentation opening with a vape trickster’s mesmerising smoke rings. While the show notes wax poetic on notions of metamorphosis and the reunification of body, soul, and spirit, the sartorial choices at play harken to high-fashion stoners in druid-esque hoodies, oversized flannels, and T-shirts printed with fantasy scenes akin to that of artist Frank Frazetta. 


For those looking for the quintessential Berlin experience, it was Haderlump and Richert Beil didn’t disappoint. Haderlump duo Julius Weissenborn and Johann Erhardt took to the skies with ‘Aero’ presented at Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport. Inspired by Amelia Earhart, avian gear merged seamlessly with utilitarian classics including light jackets, tailored jumpsuits, and no shortage of harness details. Richert Beil’s Jale Richert and Michele Beil turned to the sea for this latest dubbed ‘Bademodenschau’, meaning swimwear show. Of course, it wasn’t your typical polka dot bikinis but rather latex and rubber renditions of the classic beach holiday uniform. A techno soundtrack was the perfect backing for the experimental contrast of summer simplicity and the defiance one expects from the city’s creatives.

While leather and latex are expected, it wasn’t at the core of every brand present. Designer Alan Balletshofer presented a nostalgic take on minimalism inspired by the Japanese philosophy of ‘Ichi-go ichi-e’ meaning ‘once in a lifetime’ in regards to the cyclical nature of fashion. What he presented was a modernised take on the city wardrobe that defined 90s New York, à la American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman. Sharp tailoring merged with sportswear details culminating in clean lines not devoid of dynamism. Avenir similarly looked to working culture with ‘Commute’ presenting the commuter's wardrobe with a welcome dose of wit that didn’t overshadow her masterful draping. 

Richert Beil S/S 25

Finally, there was Namillia who drew the crowds out to the centre of the city donning their best party girl attire. They arrived in droves ready for the show, dubbed 'Good Girls Gone Bad,' which saw the brand collaborate with mid-00s brand Ed Hardy. Christian Audigier's maximalist, tattoo-inspired graphics took centre stage, blending with Namillia's party-girl aesthetic. The night was a celebration of boldness and rebellion, echoing the ethos of the brand, but more importantly, spoke to the communal spirit of resistance and self-expression. The event became a powerful statement against societal pressures, highlighting the importance of individuality and the collective strength found in embracing one's true identity.

Namilia S/S 25

‘When I went to fashion weeks, it was the spirit of the city that I took home with me. The spirit here in Berlin, there is so much fun. And I think the fun aspect of fashion has real value,’ Arp says. At the core of Berlin Fashion Week is a celebration of creativity and individuality that transcends the runway. It's not just about the clothes but the vibrant, inclusive community that embraces and encourages self-expression. This ethos sets Berlin apart, making its fashion week a unique and memorable experience that resonates far beyond the city's borders. ‘We need to create stages. Fashion has to be seen.', she explains.



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