The third edition of BERLIN, BERLIN has arrived. From in-person pop-ups and parties, to exclusive content and products, we’re delving into Berlin’s creative culture. Explore the content here and browse the drops here.
The BERLIN, BERLIN Prize is back. Dedicated to supporting fashion in the city that Highsnobiety calls home, the prize will be awarded to one emerging designer or brand who is pushing the boundaries of our field.
Last year Kasia Kucharska were crowned the winner, receiving €20,000 to expand their creative practice and also got the chance to be stocked in the Highsnobiety Shop, with the brand’s latest release dropping this Wednesday.
This year, we got an overwhelming amount of applications — thank you to everyone who took the time to take part. Together with our panel of judges — which includes the collective Live From Earth, Mumi Haiati of Reference Studios, Philippa Boltze from ANDREAS MURKUDIS, and our very own Nin Truong and Herbert Hofmann — we narrowed it down and managed to select eight finalists for the BERLIN, BERLIN Prize.
From an ex-YEEZY designer pushing the bounds of knitwear, a brand that already counts celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Julia Fox among fans, and even a returning finalist from last year, meet the BERLIN, BERLIN Prize finalists below.
Acceptance Letter Studio
Launched in 2021, by Korean Born Designer and artist Jakeyoung Shim, Acceptance Letter Studio is dedicated to creating great clothes that invite people to join the brand’s inclusive club, or as Shim puts it, “We are aiming to create pieces that awaken desire, warmth and closeness as opposed to undoubtedly cool exclusiveness.”
What do you think would change if you won the BERLIN, BERLIN Prize?
This is truly the first time I am putting my foot forward with zero hesitation. It’s been a wild seven years building up my life in Berlin, from my academic years to professional life and it has become increasingly clear that what I truly want to do is to create a fashion culture on my own terms.
The BERLIN, BERLIN Prize will enable me to continue building my brand through collaboration with the members of the Berlin creative community and with fair compensation for their work.
This fall, I am taking the Acceptance Letter Studio as a participating designer of the Berlin Showroom to Paris Fashion Week to participate in the DACH Showroom . The next step would be to put the pieces in production for sales distribution, and it is a crucial step for young businesses to concretize the supply chain and assess financial viability.
As a business owner (or as an entrepreneur) and a fashion designer, I want my community to keep hearing my name in 6 months, 5 years, 10 years time. With the support from BERLIN, BERLIN Prize, I will be much closer to making this a reality.
In a city full of club-kid clothes, Laura Gerte’s designs stand out. Launched less than a year ago, one of the brand’s previous collections featured graphics in collaboration with Multisex clubnight in OHM. Alongside being a finalist in this prize, Laura is launching her first runway collection on September 6 where she will show a collection described as “very dense, personal and emotional.”
Tell me about your label.
Since childhood I’ve been fascinated by the transformative potential of clothing and how it influences us on an emotional level.
This results in empowering silhouettes and garments that evoke confidence, sexiness and humor. Body and garments are intertwined through textured hybrid silhouettes, prints and strong lines. The clothes make you feel ready for what the world may throw at you, making my fashion a medium of protection and attraction alike.
I aim to be as sustainable as possible, realized through a large amount of upcycling and a few selected recycled fabrics. It combines the individual beauty of pre-used garments with the possibility of being reproducible. With my brand I aim to solve problems of textile abundance through fashion design.
A finalist in the BERLIN, BERLIN Prize last year, Soji Solarin has been running his eponymous label since 2017 and recently expanded into womenswear with a collection based around “the aesthetic language of his aunties”. He describes his brand as “a representation of the present day diaspora in the western world; a promise of craftsmanship, and devotion to quality.”
What’s changed since last year’s BERLIN, BERLIN Prize?
There has been a lot of learning and growth since last year. My brand now offers womenswear, which has been fun to work on. My research process for designing unisex label is pushing me towards my other areas of interest for inspiration, which is good and reflects nicely on my menswear. I am starting to embrace bold colors and prints and exploring different garment construction methods.
Founded in 2021, Gerrit Jacob’s eponymous brand is a sort of home-coming for the designer. After living abroad for 10 years, studying at Central St Martin’s in London, interning at Balenciaga and Kenzo in Paris and working at Gucci in Rome, the German designer moved to Berlin to launch his label that he describes as a “class-based tastes, German kitsch and the more awkward aspects of coming-of-age.”
Why did you want to start a brand?
Almost everyone that goes into fashion thinks about starting a brand at some point in their lives and I am definitely no exception. I was in quite a privileged position to be having a nice job within a big, well-respected house with a nice salary but while I was confined to my apartment in Rome for a few months during the very strict Italian lockdown, I had a lot of time to myself to figure out what I wanted to do, how I wanted to do it and where I want to be doing it.
At that point it had been 10 years since I left Germany and after always feeling a bit alien in Italy. I was craving something intimately familiar and with starting my own company, I had a bit of choice of where I wanted to be doing it. Also with the kind of work that I do I knew there’d be a point where too much work experience could take away a bit of the rawness and energy around it. To me, it 100% felt like the right time to start.
Describing themselves as a “bridge between Turkey and the world,” Guovarde is a non-binary brand founded by
designer Kaan Turgut. Their work aims to highlight Anatolian fashion and culture and focuses on sustainable solutions including upcycling and zero waste patterns.
Why did you want to start a brand?
I am coming from an Anatolian family whose voice were not strong enough in this world. This is one of the main reason why I started my brand but, also after spending a lot of years assisting designers at fashion weeks, I realized that this system wasn’t working with me — the system that was greenwashing, the system that was discriminating against non-binary/trans folks, the system that was discriminating against my modest mother, was just not working with me. So I decide to build my own system, my own world where sustainability and inclusivity was one of the main points.
After working for the YEEZY knit team, Lara Womann lost her job during the pandemic and moved to Berlin. First she worked some odd jobs, before finally taking the step and started her own label — Lara Severa, combining her first name and the name her parents almost gave her. The brand brings a sensual approach to knitwear and is entirely handmade. As she puts it: “I want to show the world what you can create with just hands, yarn and a lot of sleepless nights.”
What is it about knitwear that interests you in particular?
The beautiful thing about knitting is there are no limits. When I first saw an industrial knitting machine I immediately fell in love with the process. Knitting is actually a very technical process, you can knit by hand and create any shape you want, or work with technology and create endless possibilities. The thought of having no boundaries is what I love so much.
While still studying at Berlin’s UDK, Jonathan Aurel Richter founded his brand “out of the desire to create a modern take on approachable luxury, something that I felt was missing in Berlin.” He explains: “Traditional luxury has always tried to be a bit removed and exclusive. I want to also make high quality, smart and beautiful garments, but in a more accessible and playful way. A type of luxury that is more in tune with the morals of todays generation and engaged locally.”
Can you describe your upcoming collection?
I ́m currently finishing up the remaining looks of my collection “Kinnlang in Locken”. The whole collection is very personal and about me translating my view on fashion into a more desirable frame. I looked back at a lot of artists that I’ve been obsessed with for some time and used influences like Viennese woodprinting, Wim Wenders and Ozu Yasujiro to help me translate into an aesthetic. It’s very much centered around smart construction and pattern cutting, like most of my work.
Sia Arnika’s eponymous brand is only two years old but already counts Kylie Jenner, Jorja Smith, and Julia Fox among fans. Growing up in a small town in Denmark, Arnika relocated to Berlin and makes pieces that combine her heritage with a uniquely Berlin club aesthetic.
Why did you want to start a brand?
After working for other brands for years, I had my come to Jesus moment during the pandemic and felt ready to launch my own label. When growing up on a small isolated island in Denmark I had intense feelings of longing and wanting to escape. My obsession with the unknown turned into an investigation of all around me, constantly dissecting literally everything, trying to understand why if felt this way. This kind of practice followed me and informed the way I work; how I choose fabrics, develop shapes and experiment with volumes. That is a practice that has stuck with me. Trying to decipher a piece of clothing, or the idea thereof, take it apart and use different components to put something new together. So Berlin, my home and work place for the last 10 years, is the perfect base for this experimentation; here there are no rules, so the perfect place to start, grow and expand my brand.