Berlin: Mecca for Sustainability in Fashion (And 5 Places to Shop for Sustainable Fashion in Berlin)
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germany’s capital has become synonymous with vibrant culture, a legendary underground nightlife scene, and effortlessly cool style. Baked into each piece of the Berlin pie is a shifting attitude urging sustainability.
Besides their relaxed yet striking take on what it means to be fashionable, Berliners are equally invested in ensuring that their wardrobe does no harm. It sets the renowned capital apart from the other big names in the global fashion world. Like Paris, London, and New York, where luxury and couture rule supreme over conscientiousness.
Berlin Fashion Week 2022 is fast approaching in September and has been dubbed "the place for sustainable fashion." In a time when fashion sustainability has never been more critical or in demand, the fashion community eagerly awaits how the hub for green fashion will handle this major event.
While we’re stuck waiting, it’s a perfect time to look at :
- What it means for fashion to be sustainable
- How Berlin has co-opted the sustainable fashion movement
- Where to shop for sustainable fashion in Berlin
- And people’s biggest questions about sustainable fashion
Let’s dive right in.
What is Sustainable Fashion?
Sustainable fashion is a broad movement with the goal of pushing the global industry to be more eco-friendly. After all, the fashion industry is very loosely regulated, and it’s one of the largest polluters in the world. Sustainable fashion wants to reduce the industry’s massive carbon footprint.
In a perfect sustainable fashion world, products would be created with natural fabrics using carbon-neutral methods by closely monitored brands to ensure they’re adhering to environmental standards. The aim isn’t just to protect the environment in the pursuit of style. But to protect everyone involved. Both humans and animals.
The Sustainable Fashion Movement in Berlin
There are a few reasons the world sees Berlin as the heart of the sustainable fashion movement. Here are a few of the ways they’re making fashion more ethical.
1. Educating the public
Educating the public about sustainable fashion is one of the best ways to make it the new norm. While people are quick to buy cheaper clothing options, they think twice if they understand the true cost of their purchases.
Berlin has honed in on this aspect of elevating sustainability into the mainstream fashion industry. The city regularly hosts sustainable fashion shows and conferences.
Like FASHIONSUSTAIN, a conference with talks, interviews, and workshops by sustainable fashion brands, industry stakeholders, and content creators. Or, The Green Fashion Tours, which takes people around Germany’s biggest cities to truly discover the world of sustainability and upcycling locally.
2. Making sustainability trendy
A significant way Berlin pushes for sustainability is by featuring it in the biggest fashion event of the year – Berlin Fashion Week. In recent years, there’s been a heightened focus on sustainable brands and designers at Berlin Fashion Week. This year will be no different.
Efforts like this make a fundamental change in the public and general industry’s mindset. It makes eco-friendly, sustainable fashion the cool thing to do. Sustainability: the new face of luxury. Seemly small shifts, like providing a stage for sustainable brands, has the potential to transform the entire global industry.
3. Supporting sustainable fashion brands
Berlin makes a conscious effort to provide a platform to labels that produce their work sustainably. At Berlin Fashion Week, but also around the city in general.
It shows fashion companies around the globe, both sustainable and not, that they value contributors from this sector. It’s a statement that encourages future designers and brands to move more into the realm of sustainability and away from the temptation of fast fashion.
5 Sustainable Clothing Stores in Berlin
Sustainable fashion won’t become the norm until it has products for everyone – including kids! CHARLE is stepping up to fill that space in the market.
CHARLE is a sustainable children’s fashion brand that carries styles for ages 0-12. Not only are their clothes super cute and long-lasting, but they’re all made from only eco-friendly raw and recycled materials that meet the Global Textile Standard.
Staiy sticks by its core belief that “sustainability is the new standard.” They’re the world’s very first sustainable fashion marketplace with the goal of bringing together style, sustainability, and technology.
They showcase brands that are making waves in the sustainable fashion realm and make it easier for consumers to buy their stuff. Staiy has hundreds of women’s, men’s, genderless, and kid's products. They also carry self-care products and home goods.
Best of all, Staiy participates in 1% For the Planet. Making them a part of a global network of companies that donates 1% of their gross sales directly to environmental nonprofits.
ECOALF focuses on creating designer fashion from recycled materials. The brainchild of designer Javier Goyeneche, ECOALF aims not to compromise quality and style in the name of sustainability. They use incredibly high-quality upcycled materials to make a plethora of clothes and shoes for men, women, and children.
While sustainable fashion usually comes with the connotation of being more expensive, ECOALF turns that assumption on its head. From a quick peruse of their Berlin store, you’ll find that some of the pieces are more affordable than many non-sustainable brands.
Many people worry that making the switch to sustainability will totally change the way their wardrobe looks. Not with Loveco. As they call themselves, Loveco is your place for vegan, fair and ecological fashion. It’s a concept store with three locations across Berlin and many eco-friendly labels like Kings of Indigo and ARMEDANGELS.
But, they don’t just help drive the world of fashion in a more sustainable direction. They also carry so many incredible pieces! From swimwear and jumpsuits to loafers and backpacks.
5. Now & Then
Now & Then is a concept store that features collections from seven local designers in Berlin. While each one has its own unique twist, they all share one thing in common: sustainability and top quality.
The product lines at Now & Then are usually limited editions or hand-made. It gives a different feel to know how carefully their pieces and collections are crafted. Additionally, Now & Then is super explicit about its materials, production process, and values in general.
FAQs About Sustainable Fashion
What makes a fashion brand sustainable?
A fashion brand is considered sustainable when every part of its clothing production process is actively low waste, low emissions, and low impact on the environment in general.
The fabrics used to craft fashion come from non-polluting resources such as recycled materials or natural fiber crops like hemp or organic cotton. Then, they’re made into clothes using an ethical process by workers that are treated fairly and paid well. While there are many nuances that go into what makes a brand sustainable, these are the basic tenants.
What are the pros and cons of sustainable fashion?
The pros of sustainable fashion are:
- Lowers the fashion industry’s carbon footprint
- Retains our natural resources
- Defends the rights of workers in the supply chain
- Protects animals
- Results in better quality, longer-lasting clothes
- Better for our health
The cons of sustainable fashion are:
- Still trying to break into the mainstream
- Opens the door to greenwashing
- Usually more expensive per item
- Fewer choices because fewer brands are willing to be sustainable
- Looks different than the fashion we’re used to
Why is sustainable fashion so expensive?
Sustainable fashion is more expensive because it requires much more care and attention than the fast fashion process. For a brand to be sustainable, they need top-quality raw materials to make the clothes from. That costs more money. Then, the manufacturing process is more controlled and produces the least amount of pollution. Which, once again, comes at a higher price tag.
Non-sustainable fashion brands cut corners by underpaying workers, using synthetic materials, and ignoring the carbon footprint of their production process. This allows them to provide products at a lower cost to the consumer than sustainable brands. However, the environmental and ethical cost of cutting these corners is astronomical.
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