Green Fashion Trends: Ethical fashion growth predicts green future

. Posted in Berlin

schaffrin-interview-greenshowroom
MAGDALENA SCHAFFRIN
CO-FOUNDER GREENSHOWROOM
BERLIN

The founder of Germany's Greenshowroom talks Greenwashing, Green Trends and how to build a Green Future

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In times of the BER ridicule, the East Side Gallery fight, and a highly controversial facelift Berlin is getting, we’d love to point out the innovative spirit of the German capital. In the light of the budding, blooming and blossoming green fashion trend, Berlin can actually look quite bright.

Berlin fashion is in the buzz with new brands launching every season, but the city is also home to Germany’s first ethical fashion trade fairs, the exclusive Greenshowroom and The Ethical Fashion Show Berlin. LOCALSPOTTER spoke to the award-winning visionary, Greenshowroom co-founder, fashion designer, and ethical fashion insider Magdalena Schaffrin.

greenshowroom-founders

Let’s start with our tomorrow. Berlin offers award programs for young fashion designers, is there specific support for the ethical fashion segment, too?

The SYFB award and also the Creative Coaching Center coaching program are great promoting tools and open for all fashion designers – so the green labels can take full advantage of those instruments, too.

Do you think young ecological brands need to get out of the high fashion and luxury niche and offer more mainstream?

No, because this is where the big players already are. And offering ethical fashion is a specialisation, which is always a good business approach for a young brand.

Speaking of big players going green; how authentic are those campaigns, what do you think? Is it good old greenwashing?

Well, that depends of course on how you define “greenwashing”. To me it’s untruthful communication. But when a major player decides to launch a green campaign, that’s not greenwashing to me if they are honest with their communication. Certainly, smaller brands can focus much more on delivering ethical fashion and give lots of best practices, both ecologically and socially speaking. But every real step in the right direction is a good one.

Is ethical fashion a segment that’s easy/affordable to enter for aspiring fashion designers? How interested are they in this matter?

It’s really much better than just a couple years ago. If you go to the trade events today, you find green textile, organic textile areas where you really can be specific in your choice of fabrics. And they are affordable, especially if we’re talking about an aspiring designer. You really aren’t buying that much fabric.

As for interest – I’d say that about 80% of my students (NB: Magdalena holds uni seminars) are really into it and about the half chooses green fashion for their final papers.

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A FASHION ITEM THAT’S MADE CRUELTY-FREE
ISN’T NECESSARILY ECOLOGICALLY SAFE.

 
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There is also a demand and a potential in the vegan fashion. What about cruelty-free brands?

To me just a vegan approach to fashion is not enough. A fashion item that’s made cruelty-free isn’t necessarily ecologically safe or manufactured under socially good working conditions. I’m on the lookout for fashion brands that engage in both worlds.

greenshowroom-fashion

But isn’t the vegan thinking a part of the “green” world? What about leather for example?

As long as we’re talking about a by-product of another industry, I’m fine with the use of “green” leather. Industrial tanning is one of the major problems due to the use of high amounts of chromium, which is toxic. Vegetably tanned leather and – for example – salmon leather definitely are by-products, and salmon skin has become tremendously popular due to its amazing “snake skin” look and feel.

And when you take a closer look at man-made leather, it’s just as toxic as the standard leather, just as polluting and not safe. So it’s not an easy matter.

How can a consumer pick a safe leather product then?

Speaking of salmon leather, there are two excellent manufacturers, the Germany-based Nanai and Atlantic Leather from Iceland. For more common leather, IVN and several other industrial associations from Italy or Canada offer good standards.

What’s the big picture for organic and ethical fashion today?

The overall awareness is rising, and it’s triggered in many ways.

Many niche brands that launch these days start green from the very beginning. For some of them the ethical approach is so normal, they don’t even communicate it, they just produce cool fashion.

On the other hand, big manufacturers feel the urge for change as well. Standard raw materials are getting more and more expensive – all of us in the industry have read those studies indicating what the world will look like in 20 years.

And then there’s the press coverage of the toxin and sweatshop scandals that has reached the broad public. So there’s definitely a lot of interest and a lot of development. But it’s not all roses. Industry giants such as Primark still have an immense growth rate.

Also the green scene doesn’t have one solution yet. While some discuss the need for change of the whole system – in the light of such trends as Slow Fashion for example – others suggest that green fashion has to enter the conventional market and be available with the conventional retailers both online and offline. Big online retailers such as Yoox, Zalando or the German mail order giant Otto are selling green fashion already; and there are about 40 concept stores for ethical/green fashion in Germany alone. But the conventional retail while in a crisis itself has little trust in such a new market.

That’s a lot going on. What’s the takeaway for the consumer then? How do we make clever choices and buy organic, non-toxic, and sweatshop-free fashion?

There are several certificates a consumer can rely on: GOTS of course. In addition you could say there are such certifications as fairtrade or a membership in Fairwear Foundation for fairly traded fabrics. Concerning outdoor fashion, Bluesign is certainly a relevant certificate and the Global Recycle Standard for recycled fabrics.

So as a consumer there are three things you can do: always check the tag – where’s the item from, what is it made of?

Second: choose certified items.

And then of course: do some Internet research before you spend money.

Greenpeace Germany offers a comprehensive guide called “Textilfibel”. It’s a yearly publication to help consumers understand the environmental and the social effects of fashion. (NB LOCALSPOTTER: Check the Greenpeace International site for regular updates, also on fashion, here. http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/publications/)

An outlook on what’s on at the Greenshowroom and The Ethical Fashion Show in Summer 2013?

Yes, please. We’ll be focusing on the Urban Outdoor trend for fashion and shoes at The Ethical Fashion Show, and explore exclusive fabrics such as silk, cashmere, salmon skin at the Greenshowroom.

Dates GreenShowroom Berlin

The best spots to shop ethical/green fashion in Berlin?

Fair Queen

Wertvoll

Upcycling Fashion Store

Atelier Awash concept store

ica watermelon concept store

umasan concept store

Your favourite personal ethical/ecological labels-to-watch?

FASHION:

Isabell de Hillerin, Germany

Johanna Riplinger, France

Elsien Gringhuis, Netherlands

JEWELRY:

SeeMe, Netherlands

ACCESSORIES:

Royalblush by Jana Keller, Switzerland

Fleabags, USA


GREENSHOWROOM
Greenshowroom was born in Berlin in 2009 as a platform for the luxurious segment of sustainable and ethical fashion. Hosted at the Adlon, Berlin’s most prominent luxury hotel based at the Brandenburg gate, it takes place twice a year during Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Berlin.

THE ETHICAL FASHION SHOW BERLIN
Having opened in 2012, the Ethical Fashion Show Berlin focuses on sustainable and ethical fashion brands that offer urban and casual style.

Both trade fairs together form the centre of ecofair fashion in Europe and build the biggest green fashion platform during a fashion week. The organiser of both events is Messe Frankfurt.

—by Nath Fedorova
 

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