Interview with Marcus Kurz, CEO of Nowadays and organizer of MBFW
We talked to Marcus Kurz, co-initiator of the Berlin Fashion Salon, CEO of Nowadays and organizer of the MBFW, about the Fashion Week taking place in a few days and the core topic : sustainability in Berlin fashion and in the fashion industry in general.
Marcus Kurz, who is also experienced in the international fashion world, has been instrumental in the development of Berlin as a fashion city with its own identity. The Berlin Fashion Salon provides a stage for young and established German designers. The supporting program of the MBFW by NOWADAYS at the Kraftwerk Berlin is the prelude to a fashion week in the spirit of innovation, sustainability and digitalization - with the aim of promoting the radiance of German and sustainable fashion.
MBFW and Der Berliner Mode Salon are an integral part of Berlin Fashion Week - and have been for several years. What differentiates and what unites the two platforms?
MBFW presents national and international design talents in runway shows, panel talks and showcases - all both in digital and physical form. We offer designers a stage on which they can express themselves 100% and present themselves emotionally. Big names and exciting newcomers meet here and are given the biggest possible stage in front of a select audience and press. Within the framework of both formats, more than 60 designers will be shown again this season in over 70 countries through our channels.
The Berlin Salon is more restrained, has a focus on national design and is more of a curated exhibition concept in the tradition of salon culture. Exclusivity also plays a standout role here, with both formats becoming more hybrid and accessible. Both are united by our rising focus on sustainability.
Mercedes Benz is also represented internationally with its Fashion Week concept. What do you think distinguishes Berlin from other Fashion Weeks?
Berlin never stops transforming, maintaining a high level of quality and innovation at the same time. The “Our Fashion Week” is an understatement. The focus here is not on a big show-off of brands, rather on the talents and their designs shown. We want to establish Berlin as a platform for international emerging talents with a strong focus on sustainability. We want to discover and feature designers who have not yet been seen in Milan, Paris or NY.
Berlin Fashion Week opens with Der Berliner Salon on Monday, March 14, so-called. What awaits the visitors?
The Berlin Salon is a very unique group exhibition of German design expertise. This season, 31 selected fashion but also accessory and jewelry labels as well as craft manufactures from Germany show their new designs and their craftsmanship. It is certainly noteworthy that since the first Berlin Salon in 2015, the focus has been on the quality and value of "Design made in Germany". The selection of designers and designs was again curated by the initiator Christiane Arp and this time a very exciting mix of established brands such as Aeyde, Lala Berlin, Fiona Bennett or Rianna + Nina and promising new names and concepts such as jewelry designer Anna Auras, 2020untained, SUS Berlin and Société Angelique will be shown.
Via Instagram (@mbfw.berlin / @derberlinersalon) and online (fashionweek.berlin / mbfw.berlin) Der Berliner Salon will also be available to experience digitally.
Are there certain characteristics for the designers exhibiting at the Berlin Salon?
The idea of the group exhibition is to promote German crafts and designers and to offer them a platform. Accordingly, designers and handicraft businesses from Germany with a clear commitment to sustainability will be selected.
Sustainability, mindful production and future-oriented designs are at the core of the fashion exhibited at Der Berliner Salon. How is this to be understood, and how is it mirrored in the collections?
Good craftsmanship, design and sustainability go hand-in-hand. With its focus on national and Berlin design, Der Berliner Salon has always promoted it and the people behind it sustainably. Our designers stand for different approaches of responsible, mindful production. For example, local sourcing approaches, long-term collaboration with selected family farms, fair social production conditions, the use of plant-based and biodegradable anomaly, transparent value creation processes in the form of QR codes sewn into the garment, the reintegration of fabrics into the design process, hand-sewn designs and much more stand behind the designers collections. It is important to us to integrate different ways and not to single out one as the "right" one, as they all have their relevance and significance.
How strong is Berlin fashion when it comes to sustainability?
Over the years, many creatives have become role models in the industry when it comes to sustainability, taking different approaches to responsible and mindful design. I'm thinking here of designers* like Julia Leifert, who locally sources and handcrafts her creations, Karen Jessen, who stands for transparent tailoring and using already existing materials without creating waste, and LMLstudio, who creates clothes by hand without gender or sizing - just to name a few. Berlin is a creative and innovative melting pot when it comes to new sustainable solutions in production and design. I think we don't have to hide in this respect.
It's not just Berlin Fashion Week that's changing, but the entire fashion industry worldwide - how do you see the development and, in particular, the opportunities?
The big topics on the agenda are definitely digitalization and sustainability. How can we not only offer a platform for sustainable innovations and designers at MBFW, but also actively promote them? The trend is towards less, more selective and more mindful fashion design. At the same time, the new collections are brought onto the screens of customers and interested parties in real time. The boundary between B2B and B2C is blurring. Fashion is becoming more accessible, design more democratic. The laws of fashion are currently being redefined. and I see this as a great opportunity to make our work and concerns, as well as the appreciation for good, sustainable design, widely tangible.
Corona has also made a compelling contribution to change, e.g. hybrid concepts have proven themselves, buyers may no longer need to be physically on site, networking is now also possible digitally. Will this remain the case in the fashion industry and are there concepts on the part of MBFW that will help drive the change? Or do you think that fashion has to be experienced physically?
MBFW can also be experienced digitally via our website and social media. The shows and panel talks will take place hybrid. There is no way around that. At the same time, I believe that you can only really experience fashion and design on site. It's about more than just the clothes, it's about an overall concept, if you will. This is reflected very well at both MBFW and Der Berliner Salon: fashion and design in context with each other, in interaction with architecture and space. Good design is an experience with all the senses that you can only really experience on site. At the same time, of course, it is also important to feel the fabrics of the designs or to see them in motion when worn at a show.
Back to MBFW: In addition to the runway shows, there will also be talks. What are the main topics? And the aim of the talks?
We have four talks this season: "Fashion - Repairs and Restoration" in collaboration with Fashion Open Studio. "What would Karl do - How to be a designer now and then" with Christiane Arp and designer Tina Lutz. At the conversation of She's Mercedes, an initiative of Mercedes-Benz, the panelists will shed light on "Sustainability: The luxury of our future". We will conclude the panel talk series on Wednesday afternoon with "Can the Future be Handmade? - Indian and German perspectives" by the initiators of the German-Indian project made/in. All talks will revolve around the topics of sustainability, promoting young talent, the opportunities of digitalization and the question of where the industry is headed.
The highlight of MBFW is the Opening Show, which will also take place on March 14 in the evening - can you already reveal who will open the Berlin Fashion Week?
It will be the Helsinki-born designer Sofia Ilmonen. Ilmonen is the winner of the new Mercedes-Benz Eco-Responsible Collection Award from the International Fashion, Photography and Accessoires Festival Hyères. We are proud to have such a talented, sustainable designer opening. Together with Mercedes-Benz, we are always expanding our focus on sustainable fashion and designers* like Ilmonen are making a strong statement here.
With MBFW and Der Berliner Salon you have been loyal to Berlin as a fashion location for years - what makes Berlin so special in terms of fashion?
Berlin sits in the heart of Europe and is a melting pot of fashion, digital innovation, start-ups, craftsmanship and history. As the capital, Berlin is still flexible and open, there is no such thing as impossible here. Berlin is a cosmopolitan city, but at the same time the "just do it" mentality still prevails here. We have a dense and strong network of creatives here who support each other.
Together with the players from Berlin's creative industries, we want to sustainably position and develop Berlin as the capital of creative industries in Europe. This is a real opportunity for the city of Berlin! With the MBFW, Der Berliner Salon and also the Fashion Council Germany, the three biggest driving forces for fashion in Germany are based here.
All MBFW and der Berliner Salon events can be found in the official Berlin Fashion Week 2022 calendar. To continue not missing anything, check out @mbfw.berlin or @berlinfashionwe on Instagram.