Ah Berlin. City of Berghain and bratwurst and so many other wonderful b-related beginnings. Also possibly one of the most underestimated fashion capitals of the world – out-fierced by Milan and less shouty than London, Berlin hasn’t muscled into quite the same profile in European fashion over the years as some other cities. However, if you’re looking for exciting emerging designers, or you have an eye for the inventive and innovative, the fashion landscape here is one that you just might want to start to explore. To get you started, here are five of our favourite Berlin labels.
Iranian born Leyla Piedayesh has managed to create in La La Berlin a label that captures the essence of Berlin’s cool, rebellious spirit like no other. The brand is not new – it was launched in 2004 – but the designs feel as fresh and enthusiastic as if they’ve just strutted off a graduate show catwalk. Knitwear is a particular speciality of the label but given that La La Berlin is particularly renowned for a love of experimenting with colour, texture and print it’s wise to expect the unexpected.
Canadian designer Jen Gilpin has brought, and anchored, a distinctively tactile and up front approach to Berlin fashion via her DSTM brand. With black as the core colour it’s the textures that bring these unapologetically sensual designs to life, from mercurial silk, to the tough slap of leather. Jen designs for the body, contouring it, framing it, challenging it and trussing it. The sculptural styles of DSTM have more than a whiff of playtime about them but you won’t find any tame boudoir aesthetic here. We particularly love the collection shoots – expect roses, baths, ropes and models dangling from a great height.
Viennese fashion designer Marina Hoermanseder arrived in Berlin via institutions such as Central Saint Martins and a stint at Alexander McQueen. Her distinctive debut designs made of vegetable-tanned, hand-lacquered leather graced the catwalks of Fashion Scout London and she has also shown at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin. This label is the epitome of ladylike fetish. The most recent collections are elegant and feminine but still refuse to be fashion-ordinary – look closer at that pretty blue dress and you’ll notice it’s made of latex… we love.
Unisex fashion label Esther Perbandt is a perfect example of the Berlin fascination with pursuing and exploring the avant-garde. Sober colours and an absence of excess create the backdrop for a grueling interplay of elegance and athleticism. Esther’s experience has taken her via Moscow and Paris and her tough, uncompromising designs express a real need for authenticity and being true to the real self. What’s really clever about this label is its ability to capture sexiness and sensuality in looks that aren’t limited by gender.
Hien Le debuted at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin in 2011 and was promptly declared “best newcomer” by the fashion trade magazine “Sportswear International.” Every collection is designed and made in Germany and the levels of detail and workmanship are off the scale – essential when you’re working with such simple lines and shapes. The Hien Le aesthetic is distinctively German in its unapologetic lack of fuss, combined with a whiff of Scandinavian simplicity and minimalism that is individual and cool.