Exhibitors at Berlin trade shows Premium and Seek keen on sustainable, ethical fashion

Many of the exhibitors at the Berlin trade shows held from July 3 to 5 were clearly inspired by the green, ethical sentiment that is spreading throughout the fashion world. Though not yet unanimous, there seems to be a growing awareness in the industry of the urgent need to transform the traditional modes of doing business in textiles and fashion.


The entrance to the Premium show in Berlin - DR

At Filippa K, this sentiment has already been felt for several years. The label overhauled its approach from the bottom up, creating a virtuous circle from the fabrics it uses to the clothes’ treatment at the end of their useful life. For the time being, the Swedish label has set itself the goal of becoming 100% sustainable by 2030. In the meantime, it progresses gradually towards full sustainability by using recycled wool, polyester, zips and yarns, as well as vegetable ivory buttons. “We are also considering our relationship with consumption. In some of our stores, Filippa K clothes are available for hire. If the customers ask, we can also repair them, or take them back if customers no longer want them. We can sell them as second-hand clothes in some of our stores,” said Matthias Stephani, who is in charge of Filippa K’s website.

Since the Spring/Summer 2018, North Sails too has adopted a more sustainable approach, reducing its consumption of plastics and using more recycled fabrics. The brand’s roots are in the world of sailing, and it now pledges 1% of its revenue to the Ocean Family Foundation charity. About thirty of the items in North Sails’ Spring/Summer 2019 collection feature recycled plastic or cotton. In France, North Sails is a partner of the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez, and it will sponsor the Saint-Tropez sailing regattas scheduled from September 29 to October 7, launching a special line for the occasion.

Danish label Selected took advantage of the Premium show to present its new brand, Selected People. The Bestseller’s group latest entry on the fashion scene is positioned as a 100% durable, premium co-ed label, and will be later featured also at trade shows in New York and Las Vegas. As for Selected, its stand’s main communication message was ‘We use more sustainable fibres’. Selected launched its sustainability strategy a year ago, and it is now a reality: nearly 60% of its womenswear collection, and 70% of menswear, is made using sustainable materials.


The Seek trade show in Berlin - Jan Kapitän

The Seek and Bright shows were held at the Arena, a few underground stops away from Premium, along the river Spree. At Seek too, several exhibitor brands were clearly focused on sustainability. For example, Nudie Jeans has been operating a repair workshop in each of its monobrand stores for some years now. The denim label utilises biological cotton only, and is transparent about its sourcing: its website indicates the provenance of the fabrics it uses, and where the various products are manufactured. “The founders have adopted sustainable and ethical values as the label’s mainstay ever since its inception. Now the trend is widespread, but for us it’s always been at the core of our identity,” said Christian Gnatowski, Sales Manager for Nudie Jeans in southern Germany.

The sales managers at Element and Herschel said that brands do not advertise their partially sustainable sourcing, as “it isn’t a marketing claim for them.” French label Misericordia, a pioneer in ethical fashion since 2003, seemed to have a more mixed opinion: “I can see that some latch on to the concept of sustainable and ethical fashion, but in reality, at the shows, buyers look for products, for margin-generating hits, and not for a whole collection, or a mindset, or real quality. They aren’t interested in the supply chain and they don’t have an understanding of materials. My opinion may be harsh, but it’s a conclusion I have reached at the end of these three days. Happily, we continue to grow despite everything,” said Misericordia’s founder Aurélyen.

Translated by Nicola Mira

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