I went on a 'Green Fashion' Tour of Berlin, here's what happened
Berlin is no stranger to ethical and sustainable fashion. In fact, it's a huge driver of the fair fashion movement. As well as having several stores dedicated to this more thoughtful side of fashion, Berlin also hosts an annual Ethical Fashion Show (this year held 4 - 6 July).
During my time in Berlin late last year, I took part in a Green Fashion Tour, which highlighted some of the wonderful sustainable fashion initiatives by local creatives.
Green Fashion Tour
I actually came across the tour thanks to the eco-friendly and vegetarian hotel I stayed at, which included it as an option with my stay.
As well as introducing me to several sustainable clothing brands, the Green Fashion Tour allowed me to connect with some really interesting people (some of whom were local, whilst others were from other European countries and around the globe).
It was fascinating to hear everyone's stories, and to learn about their own ethical fashion journeys, and how they wanted to make a positive impact in the industry.
So what did the tour involve?
Imagine a guided walking tour you take when visiting a city, but instead of focusing on attractions, you focus on sustainable fashion initiatives.
The tour began at our first destination 'green' fashion store - an organic + sustainable kid's wear brand (MONKIND) - where we were introduced to the tour, and began a discussion on what green fashion encompasses. We were a nice intimately sized group (perhaps a dozen of us), so we could easily get to know one another and discuss this notion (more on this below).
We were also given a green fashion store map of Berlin that they'd created (with several eco clothing stores marked out on it), which was a useful resource to have on hand throughout my time in the city.
Our second stop was a very cool up-cycling and repair studio (Bis en mir vom Leibe faelt - "Till It's in Tatters"), where customers can bring in garments to be repaired, readjusted or even to be transformed into something completely new.
For example, one customer had brought in some of her mother's garments after she passed away, and as a way of remembering her, was having them turned into new pieces - each to be gifted to other children and grandchildren. Suit jackets were being transformed into handbags, backpacks, skirts and even a cushion cover!
We then went on to a beautiful private apartment, which housed the atelier and showroom store (KM13) of a designer making mid-high end, up-cycled fashion.
(I love that that's a thing that exists!)
Her pieces were absolutely stunning, and so unique. Part of her collection at the time featured these dresses shown below; with bodices made from up-cycled activewear tops, combined with tulle skirts, to create long flowing gowns.
We then finished up the tour at a shopping mall (Bikini Berlin), which housed a space showcasing several local and up-and-coming designers. (It was nice to see this sort of thing inside a mall).
Not all of the labels there were focussed on environmental sustainability, but I did spy a few.
All in all, it was a really interesting tour. I learnt more about sustainability in the fashion industry, and the things that I as a 'consumer' can do to help. For example, it's great to seek out the clothing certifications GOTS (which ensures environmentally and socially responsible practices throughout the entire supply chain) and Fair Wear Foundation (which ensures fair labour conditions in fabric and garment production factories) on clothing labels.
Another take away for me was the different forms that 'sustainable fashion' can take; whether it be by using organic or earth-friendly textiles, by using recycled fabrics (e.g. recycled plastic bottles to make swimwear, activewear or shoes) or by giving clothes new life and re-creating them into something else.
The main thing I suppose is just to be conscious and mindful of the impact that our wardrobe choices have on others and on the planet. I think that's the first, and the most important step that we can all take.
We can support brands who already focus on ethical/sustainable production methods, and also importantly, we can encourage other brands to consider these factors, by asking them about their materials, their processes and the makers of their garments.
Ultimately, brands will respond to what their customers demand, so you and I have great power to change this industry (of fast fashion) for the better!
[Related post: Fashion Revolution Week 2017 - 7 Stories From My Wardrobe]
Green Fashion Tour Details:
Regular tours are run monthly, each focusing on different geographical areas of Berlin. You can also choose to partake in customised tours and workshops, or even to receive sustainably-minded fashion styling and consulting.
Find upcoming tour dates + more details via their website.
What do you think, would you be interested in doing a tour like this in your own city? Or perhaps you've already taken part in the Green Fashion Tour or something similar? Let me know your thoughts in the comments, or via social media. I'd love to see more initiatives like this popping up in other cities around the world!