“The energy and creativity of young talents are indispensable for our industry!”

© Robert Schlesinger
© Robert Schlesinger

Neo.Fashion. is a platform and hub for the best graduates from fashion schools and young designers from all over Germany and the German-speaking world. Since 2019, the event has been a staple on the Berlin Fashion Week calendar, providing the best young design talents with a crucial stage. Through the "Best Graduates' Shows," exhibitions, and digital presentations, Neo.Fashion. showcases the fashion of tomorrow to today’s relevant audience. As a networking hub, Neo.Fashion. also offers a platform for young professionals to further their education and make valuable contacts for their future.

Jens Zander is the managing director of the S49 agency and the founder and organizer of Neo.Fashion. A conversation with a student from HTW Berlin in the summer of 2016 set the story of Neo.Fashion. in motion. We asked the enterprising Berliner about the highlights of the upcoming edition on July 2nd and 3rd.

What’s new with Neo.Fashion. in July 2024, Jens? What special highlights can we expect?

As always, the program over both days is diverse and full of highlights. We’re at a new location, the Atrium Tower at Potsdamer Platz, and we’re kicking off with an exciting new feature: a panel talk on ‘Digital Art in Fashion’ and a presentation of works by 30 digital artists. Following the showroom opening, the graduate shows from 11 universities will take center stage. On Wednesday, we’ll have the Virtual Fashion Contest, a collective show of aspiring designers, and for the third time, the talents from Ukrainian Fashion Week. Another premiere is a collection made from a new hardwood fiber. The absolute highlight of both days is undoubtedly the 'Best Graduates Show' on Wednesday evening with the presentation of the Neo.Fashion. Awards. It’s definitely worth coming by – there’s something for everyone!

“The absolute highlight of both days is undoubtedly the 'Best Graduates Show' on Wednesday evening with the presentation of the Neo.Fashion. Awards.”

How are the participants selected and by whom?

The universities themselves select their respective best graduates. The process varies from university to university – we have no influence over that. At one university, for instance, we know that a group of professors, lab engineers, staff, and student representatives evaluate the final projects based on a set of criteria. This is how the participants are determined, and eventually, the best graduate, the Best Graduate, is chosen.

For Neo.Fashion. Awards, the best of the best, the selected talents from 14 institutions across Germany, compete against each other. In elevator pitches, the nominees present their concepts and final collections to our jury. On Wednesday evening, during the Neo.Fashion Best Graduate Award Show, winners in three categories are announced – hosted by Hadnet Tesfai.

And what is the application process for Aspiring Designers?

Starting out is always tough, and we know that all too well. That’s why our Collective Show for Aspiring Designers is aimed at young talents who are still finding their footing in the industry. We want to give young brands the opportunity to increase their reach and establish themselves during BFW. It's exciting to meet new talents and share our vision.

“We want to give young brands the opportunity to increase their reach and establish themselves during BFW.”

It has always been Neo.Fashion.’s goal not to set high barriers. We believe in curation, but it’s not always necessary. Often, designers become dependent on juries. We want to offer young talents a low-threshold opportunity to participate in BFW. Those who apply can usually take part.

What sets your Aspiring Designers apart from other young talents who have shows during BFW?

There are many talented emerging designers, but of course, not all can have their own show during BFW. This depends on many factors. That’s why it’s wonderful that we can offer several design talents a low-threshold opportunity to participate in Berlin Fashion Week with the Collective Show for Aspiring Designers. Besides providing the location and infrastructure, we offer our expertise and experience. The collaboration and creative energy create impressive synergies – exactly what the industry needs more of!

What’s the lineup this season? Who will be participating?

This year, we have another exciting and diverse lineup: Nowrubi by Ruben Nowak, Lettau Art Fashion by Liesa Maria Lettau, LUNAR Laboratories by Vlad Vraciu, pinkraininthebrain by Jennifer Haas, TAMIEH by Ronja Beckmann & Pascale Danerau, Yasemin Akgül by Yasemin Akgül, and Yevheniia Luchko by Yevheniia Luchko. It’s going to be great – don’t miss it!

Can you explain the philosophy behind Neo.Fashion. in your own words?

We create a platform for the next generation. We want to give young talents in the fashion industry the chance to present their work to a broad audience and connect with other creatives and professionals. Innovation, creativity, and the promotion of young designers are at the heart of what we do.

Why do you think it’s so important to support young talents in the fashion industry?

It’s crucial to support young talents in the fashion industry because they are the future! For seven years, Neo.Fashion. has been focused on nurturing new talent. These young designers bring fresh ideas and new perspectives that keep the fashion industry vibrant and dynamic. They drive innovation, sustainability, and inclusion. Their energy and creativity are indispensable for our industry.

How does Neo.Fashion. support graduates even after the event?

Neo.Fashion. provides a robust network that we continuously expand to support graduates in the long term. This network offers numerous opportunities not just during the show but also beyond. By bringing together various industry players, long-lasting partnerships often emerge. We also promote other formats to ensure that young talents remain visible and can advance their careers strategically.

Can you share a particular success story that has emerged from Neo.Fashion.?

One of our best success stories is Johann with his label Haderlump. He presented his graduation collection at Neo.Fashion. a few years ago. His brand is no longer a hidden gem. Johann and his team impress at every Fashion Week with their stunning shows. His journey vividly demonstrates what young talents can achieve with the right support.

A special highlight from the last Neo.Fashion. was the video by hospitality guest Albert Ayal, known on social media as fashion content creator Upnextdesigner. It features the designs of up-and-coming talent Lennart Krause during our Best Graduates Show and went viral. It now has over 21.3 million views. Amazing, right?

How is the current landscape of fashion schools in Germany? What could be improved?

The fashion school landscape in Germany is diverse with a strong focus on creativity, innovation, and theoretical education. There is potential for improvement in closer collaboration with major industry players and increased exchange among schools. Learning from and benefiting each other is key!

What role do partnerships and collaborations play in the development and growth of Neo.Fashion.?

Partnerships and collaborations are very important for Neo.Fashion. Strategic partners like the Fashion Council Germany (FCG) and the Association of the German Textile and Fashion Industry help us expand our reach and achieve our goals, as well as share resources and work together to support new talents.

How do you view the development of Berlin Fashion Week in recent seasons?

The development of Berlin Fashion Week in recent seasons has been very positive. The Fashion Council Germany has introduced structure and uniform standards, solidifying the BFW’s international image. These measures have strengthened and promoted Berlin’s fashion scene. 

What makes Berlin a special fashion location?

Berlin is a fantastic city, even for fashion. It is diverse, colorful, international, and creative. There are many opportunities here to build networks and connect with other creatives. This diversity and openness make Berlin a unique fashion location that continually fosters new trends and innovations.

“Berlin is diverse, colorful, international, and creative!”

Why is Neo.Fashion. exactly where it needs to be in Berlin?

We come from Berlin, and we stay in Berlin because we feel right at home here. We leverage the many advantages of this great city to advance Neo.Fashion. Berlin is the perfect breeding ground for creatives and innovative fashion projects, and we are proud to be part of it.

“Berlin is the perfect breeding ground for creatives and innovative fashion projects.”

Can you share your favorite spot in Berlin with us?

Definitely my home. It’s where I find peace, develop new ideas, and recharge.