CREATe Researcher Dr. Bettina Springer describes a recent event exploring the future politics and economics of the fashion scenes in Berlin and London.
On Monday 22 February 2016 leading fashion designers and entrepreneurs, politicians, journalists and academics from Berlin and London met for the “Fashion Exchange – London-Berlin – Dialogue – Young Designers and Creative Economy” at the British Council Berlin. The event was jointly organized by Prof Angela McRobbie from Goldsmiths and Prof Oliver MacConnell from the bbw Hochschule Berlin.
About 50 people attended the event to discuss the future politics and economics of Berlin and London fashion scene.
The event started with a welcoming note by the secretary of state Dr. Hans Reckers of the “Senatsverwaltung für Wirtschaft, Technologie und Forschung” Berlin followed by a keynote by Dan Henderson, Development Director of the Centre of Fashion Enterprise, London College of Fashion on “The history, background and role of the Centre for Fashion Enterprise London.” Dan Henderson’s presentation gave deep insight and very valuable information on how independent and upcoming creative individuals who seek a career as a fashion designer or are looking for ways to spur the development of their brand can be efficiently coached and supported to develop a self sustaining company. Based on the belief that London has to support its talent the Centre for Fashion Enterprise enjoys a wide support by the industry.
The following presentations by young but already quite well known Berlin designers clearly showed the gap between London reality and Berlin’s.
Berlin fashion designers clearly lack a fundamental education in running a business, nor do they have good enough training in how to protect their IP or patent inventions such as the shoulder inserts which Sissi Goetze has developed for her menswear collections. The presentations by Michael Sontag (Womenswear), Sissi Goetze (Menswear) and Jana Patz (Medley Institute – Accessories) gave valuable insights of how Berlin based fashion designers built up their brand and how they are running their individual brands.
All their economic knowledge is a result of either trial and error or on friend’s advice.
Another interesting fact that they all shared was their wide acceptance that despite their success and reputation as leading German designers German buyers remained skeptical and reserved. All of this points to the value of a more co-operative approach, especially in a context where there is still affordable space for fashion start-ups in Berlin, something which is increasingly difficult to come by in London.
After a short coffee break Dr. Agnes Rocamora (LCF) talked about “Invented Jobs in Fashion Social Media” and shared her extensive knowledge on the work of fashion bloggers. She especially pointed out their work in the tension points between advertising, sponsored post, creative freedom and credibility.
The final presentation “Textile Design and Creative Practice; A Longer View” was given by Rose Sinclair from the Goldsmiths Design Department who showed an important and interesting insight in the latest developments of textile design.
A plenary discussion with more Berlin designers like Perret Schaad chaired by Prof. Angela McRobbie (Goldsmiths) and Prof. Oliver MacConnell (bbw Hochschule) concluded the get together. The organisers expressed their gratitude to the British Council for providing such elegant surroundings on Alexanderplatz. They were also delighted that a number of PhD students from the Technical University Berlin were able to attend, and likeswise that the manager of the newly established German Fashion Council Katja Schmoekel was in attendance. Overall the event promises further opportunities for research, teaching and collaboration.