Friday, 8 July 2016

Review: The Ethical Fashion Show Berlin, July 2016

Last week the international fashion press descended on Berlin for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, and as the capital of sustainable fashion, the event wouldn't have been complete without the Ethical Fashion Show and the Green Showroom, which this year celebrated their 10th anniversary. I feel very lucky to be back living in this incredible city, which is absolutely buzzing with both new emerging talent and established labels with one aim in mind - to make the fashion system work better by producing beautiful clothes that put people and planet first. 


The show is getting bigger and better every year, with a record-breaking ethical and sustainable 168 brands from 30 countries showing, including super cool new addition Studio Mulder (see below) as well as favourites like Jan N' June, People Tree, MUD Jeans and Muka Va. This year also saw the introduction of the Nouveaux magazine blogger lounge, which marked a real shift towards a younger fashion customer and a growing focus on inspirational content rather than the 'hippy' image that ethical fashion has battled with in the past.

View from the top floor of the Ethical Fashion Show
Examples from Design for Circularity

A big focus of the ethical and sustainable fashion community is knowledge sharing - what are the big topics currently facing the industry, how can brands do better, what kinds of new technology are being developed and how is the consumer mindset changing? These topics and more were covered over the three days by the accompanying lecture series, which also included panel discussions about transparency in the fashion industry and how best to implement the living wage.

Two of the talks I attended included an overview of best practices in the supply chain, using examples from Patagonia, Nudie Jeans and H&M's recently published supplier list amongst others, as well as research from Professor Rudolf Voller into consumer behaviour, which showed that despite growing interest in sustainability and 'green' fashion, customers are still very uninformed, with brand image (and fashionability) ranking much higher than the need to check product information. 

Despite this, the main takeaway from the 2016 Sustainability Image Score (in German) was the need for companies and brands to appear authentic, communicating honestly and effectively about their sustainability management practices. Perhaps the most pertinent question raised was therefore related to this communication: "How can we create stories around the product's journey that are easy to understand?"

Dr Bernhard Felmberg gives an update on the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

Studio Mulder |
A super cool sustainable Dutch brand which produces rain-proof jackets and bags from old sail material.  The studio is located in the shipyard itself and due to the nature of the fabric, all the products are vegan - think cult brand Rains or Stutterheim but the eco-friendly version! Backpacks start from very reasonable €89, and you can find the brand stocked in boutiques across the Netherlands and Europe or in their online shop.
Dutch rainwear accessories brand Studio Mulder
Larone's Insta-worthy straw bags and accessories immediately caught my eye, mostly because I haven't seen any other ethical brands set picking up on this trend and I thought it was a brilliant move to convert 'regular' fashionistas over to the green side. Unfortunately you can't buy products on their website, but keep an eye out for their colourful Philippines-made designs in independent boutiques.

Discovering new accessories brand Larone - an ethical alternative to this summer's Instagram hero pieces 
Chic, sleek and minimal, this Hamburg-based brand founded in 2013 has recently been making waves in the ethical fashion community and is doing a great job of changing its image to appeal to a younger, more fashion-focused customer. Think clean basics with an edgy twist, made in eco-friendly fabrics such as organic cotton or recycled neoprene in a contemporary colour palette. Seen regularly on Justine Kept Calm and Went Vegan,  Hey Lila Hey and Alias Louise.

Chic and sustainable favourite Jan N' June
Finish label Muka Va is known for their classic pieces mixed with beautiful prints, which are updated every season. Whereas Spring/Summer '16 was about colourful geometric patterns in bright, happy colours, Autumn/Winter takes inspiration from botanical designs that are hand painted and then digitally screen printed onto the fabric.

Beautiful prints for AW16 from Muka Va

Follow me @greenscenestyle on Instagram and Twitter to stay updated on the latest ethical fashion news and inspiration


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