Berlin remains the fashion capital: "The craziest fashion week in a long time"

In Berlin this week - in the middle of gray January - it's nicer, more colourful, more interesting.

Berlin remains the fashion capital: "The craziest fashion week in a long time"

In Berlin this week - in the middle of gray January - it's nicer, more colourful, more interesting. The fashion week starts and Berlin is, remains and will be the fashion capital again, everything should be better and more crass than ever before. Fashion is not frills or a pure nice-to-have, fashion is an economic factor, a mirror of the soul, an inventory and an orientation of where the journey can go. Four designers have now joined forces to work with concentrated power and not just on their own. The group, which initially acted out of necessity, now finds that there is nothing better than pooling and sharing creativity. Rebekka Ruétz, Dannny Reinke, Kilian Kerner and Marcel Ostertag talk to about team spirit, doctoral theses and their "WE 4 FASHION DAY". Instead of FashionWeek, now a joint FashionDay, where the four of you present in one location in one day. How did you guys get together?

Kilian Kerner: It was a reaction, a kind of logical consequence. A Monday morning in November 2022, in the middle of the preparations for the new collection, 10:32 a.m., my phone rang, there was someone on the phone telling me that everything had changed. Our location no longer existed, Mercedes Benz was gone and everything would be different. I swallowed and said, like, the platform is gone, where should we go? Information on how to proceed would then be communicated to us, it said. I immediately thought about the commitments I had already made and then the first thing I did was call Marcel and say, now we really have to team up.

Marcel Ostertag: Yes, I was also looking forward to the Mercedes Benz Fashion Show and the location - again in the E-Werk like last time - everything would have been so beautifully prepared (laughs). When you have an off-location, you have to do everything yourself, think about every little thing yourself!

Kerner: Then I called Rebekka. And suggested that Danny Reinke - he's the best here anyway - be included. From then on we had our "WE 4 FASHION DAY". I made 51 phone calls that day.

Ostertag: Then the Senate gave me the opportunity to get funding, and I guess we were convincing with our concept.

Kerner: What bordered on a kind of doctoral thesis, by the way, it took us ten days to create the thing, but then we got the whole thing off the ground with everything that went with it, taking inclusion and CO2 emissions into account and also in English. But it was worth it.

Rebekka Ruétz: In the end you just have to say that was the best thing that could have happened to us. We finally did what we should have done a long time ago: we shook hands.

Easter day: So that we are finally self-sufficient!

Danny Reinke: The platform broke away from all of us, and this merger came at exactly the right time.

And the other designers?

Kerner: It's going to be the craziest fashion week in a long time as far as the designers are concerned, I think. There were a lot of sponsorships and Mercedes isn't really gone either.

Easter day: There will be 25 shows, more than in Berlin for a long time. There will be hourly shows at times.

Reinke: Berlin is reorganizing itself. This is also exciting for us designers.

Maybe it's time for the old one to go?

Kerner: Yes. Because that's when good things happen - including four egos getting together and pulling together (laughs). What we are doing now has never happened before and I am very happy that everything turned out the way it did.

A cool feeling, right?

Ostertag: Yes, and quite honestly: Berlin is and was and will remain the German fashion capital, that's the way it is. I am very pleased that we have now created something new. Because yes, there have been grants in the past, but we designers didn't get any of that, it always went straight to the agencies. Now we can make our own decisions.

Reinke: We have a completely different focus. In addition to the shows, we also have a sustainability competition...

Ruétz: … and to be honest: I find it so exciting to be able to welcome three new people into my life and to grow with this event. A whole new way of working.

Kerner: And it won't stop with this time, we want to continue and are already planning other things.

Ostertag: It has to fit the zeitgeist, we have to see what's going on, but maybe there's still room to grow.

The last fashion week was in September, so there wasn't much time for anything new, was there?

Ostertag: There was a certain amount of pressure.

Reinke: The time frame clearly put me under pressure, after all we still have day-to-day business. Every brand has a different focus, how and where clothing is made, how it is sold. The fact that we are now playing as a team is pure joy.

What are your respective priorities?

Reinke: Well, I do custom-made products. I don't have a classic shop or online sales.

Ruétz: For me it's a mixture. I'm online, I don't have a shop anymore, we're switching to one-off production and also going directly to the customer. My motto could be: "Less is more".

Ostertag: For me it's about my muses, the end consumers. We have very close contact with the buyers. I mostly invite female customers to my shows, as well as influencers and journalists.

Your customers can also be seen on the catwalk, if I remember correctly...

Easter day: Exactly. I will continue to expand that because I believe that this is the only way I can represent true diversity. I think it makes my show a lot more relatable. And that increases my range of customers because women who don't wear size zero also dare to go to my shop in Wedding. And we have expanded our private shopping concept, which is going extremely well.

So invite 20 friends and most convenient home shopping?

Ostertag: Exactly, that brings in more sales than in the boutiques. We have completely withdrawn from retail, which is why we have the final price and not the wholesale price, and the customer is in contact with the designer and vice versa, which is really nice. We do that six times a year, so I can take measurements and expand the network.

Kerner: None of our collections have anything to do with those of the other designers. I love seeing how other people work, what they value. With the shows, however, we have to find a common focus, and that's why we make compromises, there's no other way. Each of us likes to do that.

Do you think about how to get your offspring to start?

Reinke: Oh yes (laughs). We will host a sustainability competition which is a huge opportunity for fashion students to get ahead. The issue of money is very important. That's why the four of us want to promote young talent together. The competition starts in January for the show.

Kerner: We ask our guests to bring an old piece of clothing from their closet, and the students will use it to make something new. We distribute the clothes to several fashion schools and the 10 best looks are then presented next time. The winner or the winning look will be awarded 3000 euros.

Reinke: The fashion schools are the ones we went to ourselves. So the next designers will come from the schools that shaped us.

We live in stark times - how apocalyptic is your fashion?

Reinke: The trend is towards wanting to bring something hopeful and beautiful into the world. We don't want to look the other way, not at all, but in the minutes that we're presenting our collections, it should...

Kerner … are about dreams.

Reinke: No question, the current situation in the world is a burden for me, but I want to give my guests a nice moment, with great radiance. We all want that.

Do you suffer from economic constraints?

Reinke: Of course, when thread and zippers become more expensive, we feel it immediately. After all, it often becomes too expensive for our customers overall.

Ostertag: However, we don't want to be too political. When things get too dark and negative, like with Balenciaga...

... I think that went completely wrong ...

Ostertag: … yes, then I would like to present the world in a more positive way. What I find exciting is that fashion can finally bring all nations together in peace.

Kerner: Football can usually do that, too...

Ostertag: But football is also stressful.

Kerner: There is always stress in the front rows (laughs).

Ostertag: In any case, my collection is having a party in the eighties. Always with borrowings from the timeless seventies.

Reinke: We only have the opportunity to present our work twice a year – you should focus more on the positive.

Ruétz: It also has a lot to do with my personal mood: the darker the times, the greater my desire not to send my audience home depressed.

can we party

Kerner: You have to celebrate!

Ruétz: We should be much more in the moment, enjoy it.

Kerner: We can't stop working just because there are so many complete idiots around us who have to wage war. And to live. The war in Ukraine blew me away, and I went into it at the penultimate show, before that it was Corona, who knows what's to come.

Rather smile in the sinking?

Kerner: Yes, because otherwise the prevailing feeling is that the whole world is mentally ill.

Sabine Oelmann spoke to Rebekka Ruétz, Danny Reinke, Kilian Kerner and Marcel Ostertag

The "WE 4 FASHION DAY" takes place on Tuesday in the Bolle-Höfe in Berlin Wedding.