Showcasing The Work Of Black Designers And Creatives in Berlin
Let’s start up this article by a quote from Martin Luther King Jr., which captures very well that despite the fact that efforts to ‘black representation’ need to be taken by various stakeholders, the lack of such efforts by others will never erase any of the beautiful work and visibility, which black creatives have created around themselves including in one of the global capitals of fashion, Berlin! The quote goes “[a]s my suffering mounted, I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation: either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into creative force”. Whereas this quote shall not indicate that all the success of black creatives stems from their internal fight against discrimination, it shall indicate that designing creative solutions and products offers the chance to leave a little bit of ‘representation’ behind, namely in the traces of our work and our creations.
In other words, creations all have an identity. They are the result of what we deem to look beautiful or be insightful, deep etc. Without our own perceptions, they couldn’t come into existence. But in a world, where creations have become commodities, it is not always the case that we still pay the same attention to an artwork. Despite that fashion is no less an art than painting or sculpture, most of us might spend a little less time thinking about and interpreting what a designer must have thought, when designing a new clothes item, despite that we would take our time in a gallery to speculate about a particular painting and value its beauty. This article will zoom into the world of fashion seeking to showcase the work of a few lesser-known black designers in Berlin. In addition, it will provide a very brief background of the global fashion industry and one issue to do with representation.
As Taylor Champlin writes in an article on Paper, the fact that well-known models such as “Grace Jones, Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks have paved the way and broken down barriers for Black representation in fashion” does sadly not mean that this industry is free from racism. As Champlin continues, the Afro-Latinx model Joan Smalls can tell others a story about being excluded from certain jobs just because of her race or her admittingly stunning hair – which underlines a point made by the researcher Eva Wilhelm: The fashion industry has been under influence of ‘Western dominance’. Rather than communicating that beauty rests in difference, various magazines and fashion brands have been found to still engage in racist practices such as ‘whitewashing’. At the same time, fashion enthusiasts have also criticized the ‘objectification’ of black models and demanded from fashion brands to not reinvent colonialist stereotypes. Rather than showcasing black models as an exotic, and in some cases, sexualized ‘other’, fashion brands might have to show some awareness about problematic narratives.
Setting The Scene For: Black Fashion Designers In Berlin
- Arrey Berlin
Arrey Berlin is a fashion label led by Arrey Enow, a fashion designer and founder, who moved from Cameroon to Germany in the 1990s and has an active interest in the sustainability of fashion. Arrey’s works have received attention by both the media and international actors. Indeed, some pieces from her earlier collections have already been showcased in the The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. If you want to shop at Arrey in Berlin, refer to the address below.
Address: Arrey Berlin, Hackescher Hof, Rosenthaler Str. 40-41, 10178 Berlin
- La Case Paulette
La Case Paulette is a business “run by two black womxn entrepreneur[s]”, Anne-Cécile and Audrey Picardo. Being inspired by the spirit of their grandmother, the two founders and Réunion islanders started up a French concept-store. Rather than showcasing their own fashion, the two sisters showcase the fashion of a variety of designers who design unisex, environmentally friendly and non-season bound clothes (and other products). Among the designers is, for instance, Estelle Ebenga Hénot, the Congolese designer behind the fashion label eeH Wear. Other black fashion labels include Waxemile, FAAM Studio and La Bise Cousine, whereby the latter two follow alternative approaches to fashion and movement as well as upcycling. Curious to find out more? Pay La Case Paulette a visit!
Address: La Case Paulette, Sredzkistr.52, 10405 Berlin
If you are not so much into fast fashion, but more into second-hand fashion, then you might want to pay LeMagass a visit. LeMagass describes itself as “a Berlin-based Vintage-Fashion label, specialized in VINTAGE/ second hand and and and […]”. Located in Berlin’s Reuterkiez, LeMagass is both close to fashion, music and nightlife. And LeMagass’ owner, Mavin Le Magass, actually also is a musician. If you’re curious to find out what he has to say about Neukölln, his own story, his store and his music, then tune in this podcast. And for a visit, refer to the address below!
Address: LeMagass, Reuterstrasse 59, 12047 Berlin
- Buki Akomolafe
The Buki Akomolafe fashion label, which carries the name of its owner, was founded in 2016 with the aim to create “high-end women’s clothing with a slight hint to androgyny, precise tailoring and high quality eco materials”. Buki Akomolafe has German/Nigerian roots and manages an agricultural project in Nigeria next to the work at her fashion label. Making a conscious choice for small-scale collections designed and handmade through particular techniques from West Africa, Buki Akomolafe’s clothes line aims for comfort and tradition. If you’re curious to witness some of her most recent pieces, visit the online store or Zalando!
Studio/Showroom Address: Heimstraße 17, 10965 Berlin
- Wear Your Mask
Wear Your Mask was founded in 2015 by Diana Ejaita, a Nigeria-Italian illustrator, who has been experimenting with printing on different surfaces and materials. Despite the name suggesting that Ejaita sells masks with unique prints, her fashion label actually offers a variety of products for womxn. Do not hesitate to take a look at her unique prints and collection in her online shop.
If you are a start-up or a SME who seeks to innovate fashion and/or the fashion industry, then do not hesitate to contact us for legal advice. We are both specialized in supporting multicultural businesses in Germany, in supporting African businesses in Germany and in supporting businesses across various African jurisdictions. While our support starts with providing help on immigration and relocation matters, it does not stop there – taxes, tech, intellectual property…You heard us! Contact us today to find out more!