Insider Guide: Berlin Fashion Week
Berlin is a city long-associated with glamour and fashion. From the old-world allure of Marlene Dietrich, to Liza Minnelli in Cabaret and the very modern street-style scene, the German capital rivals fashion cities such as Paris and Milan when it comes to well-dressed residents.
Emily Norval is a London-based journalist, specialising in the fashion and retail sector. She frequently travels to fashion weeks and major events to cover the next trends in the industry.
Twice a year, Berlin plays host to the glitterati of the fashion world with Berlin Fashion Week, which comprises of more than the usual array of catwalk shows to include showrooms, trade fairs and more. Many brands that are familiar names on the high street come to the city to showcase their latest collections to buyers and press, as well as new and established international designer labels like Marc Cain, Fyodor Golan, Marina Hoermanseder and Thomas Hanisch.
Like most fashion weeks, many of the events are closed to those outside the industry, but in the same manner as London, Paris, Milan and New York, the city comes alive during the week, with shops, bars and restaurants to see and be seen in, as fashion takes a starring role.
Berlin Fashion Week: When & Where?
Berlin Fashion Week officially takes place this year from January 18th to 22nd 2016, but many shops will set up fashion-week window displays or special offers during the build-up. Berlin is a year-round street style dream, as a city full of young and vibrant creative types, but fashion week is where the glitterati really like to show off their credentials.
Although the catwalk shows take place across various locations in the city, there are some central hubs, such as the Show Room Mile in the inner city (where young designers’ work is showcased to everyone), which are a great location to head to for people watching. If you want to look like part of the action, then don’t be afraid to experiment with a bold style to be in with a chance of being street-snapped yourself. “Berlin hasn’t really got one fashion style,” says local photographer Rapeepat Boonmongkolwat. “It seems to be hipster because people just wear things as they want. You might see it as art.”
Evolve Your Own Wardrobe
For a more practical approach to fashion week, be sure to take advantage of the many special discounts, events and offers that often hit the city’s best stores. Keep a particular eye out for new store openings, many of which take place during the shows week. They’re easy to spot, usually with a crowd of well-dressed clientele hovering outside sipping cocktails and are excellent opportunities for discounted offers.
Broadly, Berlin is full of fantastic boutiques and independent stores, many of which can be found on Neue Schönhauser Straße, at Rosenthaler Platz, on Friedrichstraße, and in the City West area. Berlin’s history as a divided city means that there isn’t one prime location for shopping and dining, like in many other cities, but instead offers a variety of different areas to explore.
As home to nine fashion schools, Berlin is a breeding ground for hot young designers, many of whom stick round in the city after graduating to start up their own labels. Bikini Berlin, in City West is an excellent place to start. As Germany’s first concept shopping mall, it offers fashion and lifestyle stores aimed at a trendy clientele. LNFA Store within Bikini Berlin is operated by one of Berlin’s premiere fashion and events agencies and full of exciting German labels such as Kilian Kerner, Marcel Ostertag and Rau Berlin.
Berlin Mitte is also a particularly trendy shopping area, with several outstanding independent stores. The Corner Berlin, three lavish and spacious concept stores present a cosmopolitan designer fashion mix from Givenchy to Saint Laurent, while Apartment on Memhardstrasse is an ambitious assortment of international designer fashion.A particular fashion stereotype for its ultra-trendy presentation, the ground floor entrance of Apartment appears to be an empty white room, before a staircase leads down to a dimly lit basement display.
Additional Berlin Fashion Week Activities
Elsewhere, Soto store caters for a range of independent menswear labels from hip new designers, to more classic pieces, while Rebecca Berlin is a small concept store offering exclusive selected womenswear, avant-garde, and high fashion.
No self-respecting fashionista would make a trip to Berlin without a visit to Soho House. While the exclusive members-only club is virtually impossible to get into without knowing someone ‘on the list’, The Store at Soho House is a recent addition to the venue, where the public can get a taste of the high life. Having opened in 2015, the concept space hosts designers such as Alexander Wang, Jil Sander and local Berlin labels, as well as food (both healthy and natural), books and music.
Berlin places a lot of emphasis on green and eco-fashion and if that’s up your street, also check out the Green Fashion Tours Berlin, by bike, public transport and walking distance. Tours take place every Friday at 2pm for €20 per person, in German, English, Spanish or French and are hosted by Mariangeles Aguirre, a professional guide and upcycling designer, and Anna Perrottet, an expert in Eco Fashion. Along the way, you’ll visit eco fashion hubs such as Berlin’s famous Upcycling Fashion Store, where international designers transform re-used clothing and materials.
After a day of taking in the shopping hot spots of the city, there is nowhere better to kick off a stylish evening than at the Catwalk Bar at the Berlin Marriott Hotel, on Inge-Beisheim-Platz. The city’s first and only ‘fashion bar’ is a must-see, attracting models, photographers and designers all year round, but particularly during fashion week. Sip a fashion-inspired cocktail (we recommend the ‘En Vogue’), let your hair down and mingle with the beautiful people.
Whether you’re an industry insider or just a traveller with a passion for great style, there’s plenty to see and do during the height of Berlin Fashion Week. With fashion becoming increasingly democratised in the social media age, brands and designers are more clued up than ever when it comes to getting the public involved, so take advantage of the opportunities to sneak a peek behind the veil and grab a piece of the action.