Berlin Fashion Week
Time for Fashion
The year 2018 commemorates a decade of sideway cooperation between SOURCE&FLUENCE (source what?) and Die ZEIT Magazin, one of Germany's most prestigious media outlets. And nearly three decades of witnessing Berlin on the path of becoming fashionable again.
The scene has evolved to the point from which fashion can be observed and appreciated not as a fab thing, but as a complex systemic process, as both cause and effect, hard and soft-wired into other socio cultural processes, on different levels.
In the early 90's following the fall of the Berlin wall and on through the decade, when everything seemed possible riding high the incoming swell waves of free creative energies, the realistic prospect of the city ever becoming a nerve center of global fashion was however almost naught. Despite the abundance of creativity and enthusiasm back in the days, the metropolis lacked a few, yet all mandatory elements: affluent and fashion-conscious inhabitants as well as purpose-specific infrastructure. Berlin was sexy, but poor – to reverse the flow of predicates in the famous aphorism issued by Klaus Wowereit, a former mayor.

It was not before 2003 when the first seed of the idea was planted in the city – fertilized that year with Premium, an international fashion trade show which in its germinal phase unfolded in the U3 underground tunnel underneath the Potsdamer Platz scraping various sources into a curious expository and interactive patchwork. The idea of a fashion city sprouted further with Bread&Butter. Seduced by Berlin's anarchic character – but so much more by the ever-growing hordes of young international revelers attracted to the casual loose-fit and affordable lifestyle of the city – the brand imported its hip streetwear exhibition from Cologne.
It was that moment when SOURCE&FLUENCE first marked itself on the map of fashion world being redrawn in real time, amended with a new European destination. Volumes are written about the nexus between fashion and club culture with the interpenetration of both spheres so profound one cannot quite conceive of them apart or if only for practical purposes.
Fashion in Berlin is so much more than just fashion.
Just as no fashion show goes without music and audience, no club phenomena – performance and its attendance – has been short on fashion. The difference is quantitative: balancing the elements according to the definition of event on the bill. Think of David Bowie, a master of every kind of drag and the embodiment of glamor intoning on stage: "Oooh, fashion! We are the goon squad. And we're coming to town." Bowie was among the first to discover Yamamoto, who made the clothes for his Ziggy Stardust persona and later to spur Gaultier who was finding inspiration in a variety of the icon's styles. Or take Westwood who based her entire collection on the New Romantic look (itself a partial borrowing from the dark and perverse retro vogue of Berlin Cabaret) to return it to the clubs where the genre originated, refined.
By the mid 2000's, The Blitz and St. Moritz, the cradles of New Romanticism and its idiosyncratic style in London circa 1980s, had their counterpart venues in Berlin – not in their particular mode, but in the aforestated general function, where the connection of fashion and club culture was most pronounced and fertile providing for mutual enhancement of the components and their outflow.

Looking back to times when Till Harter was rocking Berlin with a series of underground events, most of them happening in Bar103 and later in Bar Tausend, both of his making, the current co-founder of SOURCE&FLUENCE recapitulates his story spanning almost three decades: "Essentially, it was all about creating magical moments." His clubs and countless crypto-spaces popping up all around and often in the most implausible places were like no others in the city – the grounds for personal expression and ongoing self-reinvention through music of all kinds, assorted performances and all types of spectacular attire dress-coded and fine-filtered through near impenetrable entrances. In this light, Harter's numerous collaborations with Bread&Butter and other fashion platforms in the context of Berlin Fashion Week during its formative years was by no means coincidental.

Although the Bread&Butter affair was short-lived exported to Barcelona in 2007 for the next couple of years, Premium stayed determined and confident all along; continued to grow influencing the buildup of fashion industry phenomena, native and visitant. Launched in 2006, self-tasked to promote local designers and new names from near abroad, Ideal Showroom helped boosing the development of the idea and – with other startups springing up – directly, their hands in it to elbows, witnessed the mushrooming of infrastructure required for activation of fashion city.

Fully charged with talent and global attention to the city by 2007, the fashion scene in Berlin was waiting for an event that would trigger its sweeping explosion. Generously supported by the government, the ignition was sparked by Mercedes-Benz to become the key sponsor of a number of programs in the calendar of Berlin Fashion Week also highlighted by a half-dozen trade fairs as original and essential part of it – Premium, Panorama, Show&Order, Seek, Bright, Selvedge Run, Green and Ethical.
10 years down the road, Berlin has established itself as one of the top capitals of fashion with more than 3,500 exhibitors presenting their latest collections, 200,000 trade visitors, 200 events and more than hundred registered venues. Its satellite and unofficial acts scheduled around and stretching beyond the timeframe of the official program are hardly quantifiable. It may not yet be recognized as a global center of fashion the way London, Paris, New York, Tokyo and Milan are. Nonetheless, over a decade or so, Berlin has developed its own form of chic, very distinct, and a separate way of thinking of fashion. The scene has evolved to the point from which fashion can be observed and appreciated not as a thing, but as a complex subsystemic process, as both cause and effect, hard and soft-wired into other socio cultural processes on different levels. In other words, fashion in Berlin is so much more than just fashion.
Zeit Magazine Vogue - Relevance of Fashion
It has become a tradition ever since 2015 to mark the start of the Berlin Fashion Week taking place twice a year with a bi-annual conference conceived as a format to rub up or redefine the notion of fashion; to analyze from different angles and discuss its current trends; to settle the fundamental issues as they are revealed and negotiated from the podium by the most influential thinkers and outstanding practitioners in the field. The brainchild of Die ZEIT Magazin which justifiably bills itself as The Berlin State of Mind and VOGUE, its topic for the January 2018 session covered the question of relevance of fashion in the world which appears sometimes to be indifferent to and out of sync with even the principles of its basic survival.

Whatever clarity or perplexity that might have ensued by the end of the conference was taken down the street to Provocateur, where SOURCE&FLUENCE arranged a playground for the kind of views and theories which hold up without recourse to logic or reality whatsoever.
It was an atmosphere, paradoxical, where some 500 guests could truly celebrate the premiere of Es war Gut, Aber Das ist Besser, a pleasantly bemusing piece of video art by Jonas Lindstroem, an internationally acclaimed photographer and filmmaker. Shot in places in and around Berlin, his new feature deals with the lives and experiences of young people under 30. The images whirlpool the viewer deep into a world in which things show intimately close and, at the same time, dismally distant; its space is both cosmic and chaotic; one's circumstances appear easily manageable, yet hopelessly beyond control.
Mavi Phoenix – a rocket rapper whose music style and poetic substance earned her the "Artist of the Year" nomination in her native Austria – picked up the night tempting the audience down to the basement, sharing it later with Anna and Paulin of WOS (Musique Couture); while leaving a fair part of the crowd upstairs in the bar with the one and only Hazy Pockets. A consummate drummer, producer, dj and formerly a music curator at Amoeba Hollywood, the flagship of the world's largest independent record distributer, a host of the award-winning series What's in My Bag, Joel Isaac Black (to invoke his real name for more haziness) was treating the audience to a selection of groovy melodic tunes of the origins largely unknown to non-connoisseurs, which made his set so special.

Among the guests, you could meet Till Lindemann of Rammstein, Hans Peter Baxxter of Scooter, designers Saskia Diez and William Fan, fashion model and actress Sara Nuru, MTV Style presenter Wana Limar, writer Thomas Meinecke, artist Martin Eder, liberal politicians Diana Kinnert and Tim Renner, comedian Oliver Polak, entrepreneur Valentin von Arnim and Christoph Amend himself, the Editor in Chief of Die ZEIT Magazin.