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January 18, 2021

Fashion, Film, and Sustainability: Berlin Fashion Week 2021

Today marks the beginning of Berlin Fashion Week (BFW), which has taken on a new form and aim this year.

With 3.5 million euros of state funding, the event is part of the city’s campaign to rebrand Berlin as the ‘European Capital of Creative Industries’. Running January 18-24, Berlin Fashion Week is a combined physical/digital event featuring fashion showcases and industry panels, and will share the week for the first time with a film festival.

With the Messe Frankfurt and the Premium Group trade fairs moving from Berlin to Frankfurt – and the creation of Fashion Week Frankfurt as a result – Berlin Fashion Week is reinventing itself, focusing on innovation, sustainability, and the new digital era. Both German and international fashion designers will showcase their collections alongside events like Fashion Open Studio’s exhibits and panels. Designers taking part include Tom Van Der Borght, Michael Sontag, and Rebekka Ruétz, with the programme forming a mosaic of physical runways and live streams.

This year introduces a new format to the fashion week: Fashion Open Studio X Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, which will be comprised of showcases, group exhibitions, and themed discussions. As per BFW’s renewed focus, most events centre on the environment and the future of both fashion and the planet. For instance, the January 20 talk Activism will discuss ‘People Power’ and the small steps we can take now to build towards a sustainable future. Their Arts and Culture talk, also scheduled for January 20, explores the creation of new cultures and countercultures in reaction to the mainstream, focusing on galvanising the world’s ‘young revolutionaries’ towards action on sustainability.

Finally, although fashion film festivals have generally aligned more closely with the film industry than with the fashion world, the two have converged during this ongoing global pandemic. Last year, the Berlin Fashion Film Festival (BFFF) received several submissions from fashion labels that produced films rather than holding physical runways, which led the festival’s managing director, Philipp Ulita, to this year’s plan: joining the Berlin Fashion Week schedule.

What better way for a fashion designer to find the perfect collaborator or inspiration on how to tell your brand story, besides a festival that celebrates and curates the films that specifically tell fashion?
PHILLIP ULITA, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF BERLIN FASHION FILM FESTIVAL.

Through the collaboration, the festivals are supporting each other through uncertain times, with the BFW schedule featuring several screenings by the Fashion Film Festival.

While the world remains in flux for a while longer, it’s great to see annual events reinventing themselves for the new global climate. Berlin Fashion Week is sure to produce interesting (and hopefully inspiring) content, whether in panels or runways, so tune in this week for the first fashion week of 2021.

If you liked this article, you may enjoy our feature on the Piinpi exhibit of Indigenous Australian fashion.


Photographer Konrad Schmidt / Designer: @emeka_suits

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