Interview with Carina Bischof, co-organizer of Fashion Open Studio

With the reorientation of the Berlin Fashion Week in 2021, a new platform, Fashion Open Studios, was introduced with the aim of highlighting creativity, innovation and, above all, sustainability to the industry audience in Berlin and to sensitize consumers in their consumption. Fashion Open Studios was originally launched by the London-based initiative Fashion Revolution. An association of designers, policymakers, brands, retailers, manufacturers, and many other fashion experts who have set themselves the mission to change the fashion industry positively for both society and environment. We talked to Carina Bischof, co-organizer of Fashion Open Studio/Fashion Revolution and co-founder of the association Fashion Revolution Germany, about the upcoming Fashion Week in Berlin and other topics around sustainability.

Who and what is Fashion Open Studio or Fashion Revolution?

With the Fashion Open Studio format, we give exclusive insights into the work of up-and-coming international and local designers who pursue a sustainable approach to fashion. We bring producers and consumers together. In hybrid formats, we take the audience directly into the ateliers and bring fair fashion experts into conversation with each other. Fashion Open Studio is an initiative of Fashion Revolution, the world's largest fashion activism movement. Sustainability pioneers Carry Somers and Orsola de Castro founded the NGO in 2013 after the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh.

What is your message to the fashion scene (nationally and internationally)?

Fashion Revolution is committed to a clean, safe, fair and transparent fashion industry. Among other things, we are involved in the areas of research, education and international cooperation. At the same time, we advocate for improvements on a political level. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the broken relationships and inequality within fashion supply chains for all to see, as well as the interconnectedness of human rights, rights of nature and the industry's impact on climate change. Now we need to start right there to change the system and not fall back into old patterns of behavior.

How do you see the future potential of sustainability: standard or principle in the fashion industry?

Sustainability is not a trend. It is the only possible way to deal with the issues of the climate crisis. The fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters, exploiting people and natural resources. According to the report "Scaling Circularity" by the Global Fashion Agenda and McKinsey & Company, it is possible that the fashion industry can become 80% circular, provided that investments are also made in this branch. Therefore, I think that companies that do not manage to adapt to a circular production method are not future-proof.

We are always talking about change in fashion and sustainability in use and production, but does this also arrive at the giants like Zara, Adidas and more?

The pressure on the big players is increasing, at least, but the improvements unfortunately do not go far enough and in some cases are not thought through to the end.  This also emerges out of the Fashion Transparency Index - a transparency ranking by Fashion Revolution, in which 250 of the world's biggest fashion brands are scrutinized every year.

Is the movement towards sustainable fashion visible in Berlin's fashion industry in particular - what stands out to you?

The topic of sustainability can be found in almost every event at Berlin Fashion Week, but with completely different approaches. In order to be credible and meet a common quality standard, the individual players should work even more closely together. We are happy to play a part in shaping this transformation process of Berlin Fashion Week with the aid of the Fashion Open Studio program.

How do you see the future of Berlin as a fashion hub?

Very promising. Berlin stands out from other cities when it comes to quality standards in terms of sustainability. The foundation for change began here years before the topic became a trend. Now the challenge is to bundle precisely this potential and communicate it to the outside world in such a way that we expand our position on an international level.

How do you think Berlin Fashion Week stands out from other international and national fashion weeks?

Over the course of the past few years, numerous formats have developed that play on the theme of sustainability. In my opinion, this density and depth is unique and should be promoted even more as a feature.

You have a wide range of designers on your platform, what is currently your favorite collection/brand?

It's very hard to say one favorite brand with all the different approaches and concepts. I'm happy about the diversity of designers who are working with disruptive business models, innovative materials and design techniques, but also artistic approaches.

Are there other Berlin "Labels to Watch" or other organizations that deal with sustainability in the fashion industry that you should have on your radar?

The number of designers is very high. A good orientation is on the Fashion Open Studio website, which shows not only the current designers but also those of the last seasons and other countries.In addition, the A-Gain Guide is super exciting. This is a new platform that deals with the recycling of old clothing and educates. And of course, 202030 - The Berlin Fashion Summit should not be left out.

Last time at Fashion Week an insane showcase in cooperation with MBFW, What do you have planned this time?

Also this season we have planned a Fashion Open Studio Showcase this time on the theme "Product & Purpose". We will present the designers at three different locations: Superconscious Store, POOL Showroom and at 202030 - The Berlin Fashion Summit.  At the various locations selected looks of the designers will be on display and you can dive into the creative minds and get to know their practices.

Are there any events, designers, speakers, workshops or discourses at this year's Fashion Week in Berlin that you are most looking forward to?

I am really looking forward to the Fashion Open Studio Talks on the topics MONEY - FASHION - POWER. These will be held with our partners, 202030 - The Berlin Fashion Summit, MBFW and Pool.Berlin

Besides your presence at this year's Berlin Fashion Week, what else do you have planned for 2022?

The Fashion Open Studio program will take place in Berlin on this scale exclusively for Berlin Fashion Week and will probably continue in the second half of the year as well.

With our association Fashion Revolution Germany, we are also focusing this year, in addition to Fashion Revolution Week 2022, on the EU citizens' initiative "Good Clothes, Fair Pay", which focuses on the issue of fair wages in the supply chain. In addition, interested parties can find out about current topics related to sustainable fashion through our website, social media channels, as well as our podcast "We are Fashion Revolution".

Participating designers: AMESH / Anekdot / Anima Protection / Become A-Ware / Catalogue of Disguise / Church of the Hand / Emeka Suits / IVY & OAK / Melisa Minca / Patrick McDowell / Rafael Kouto / Renata Brenha / Studio.fbx / Vladimir Karaleev

All Fashion Open Studio events will soon be announced in the official Berlin Fashion Week 2022 calendar. To not miss anything, check out @fashionopenstudio and @berlinfashionwe on Instagram.