Changing the face of fashion in Berlin

Today we chatted to Sandra, our Berlin Sixer who runs a wonderful vintage clothes shop… we hear about her inspirations in early life and how they influenced her route into sustainable fashion.  So, meet our champion of swapping, upcycling and awareness raising…

What made you think about  being part of the Six Items Challenge?

I stumbled upon The Six Items Challenge when I was researching fashion blogs for some NGO freelance work! The blogs I was researching were supposed to be fast-fashion related and even there, I read posts from people contemplating how full their wardrobes were and that they wanted to give it a break. That motivates me as it seems the mainstream has come to realize this all has to stop somehow.

And, have you always thought about fashion from an ethical standpoint or is this something new to you?

My grandma and mum always took extremely good care of their clothing and only bought high-end designer clothing. I remember when I was 12, I wanted nothing more than to go to H&M and my mum just didnt want to go in with me. When I earned my first money counting cars on the street ( I think I was 13 and it was a school project), I spent it at a cheap chain, don’t even remember which one really. It took me a while to rethink my habits. At school and university, I defined myself a lot around the clothes I owned, lent a lot to friends, organized swapping parties. But I never felt good about myself. My first working years I spent at the cosmetics giant L’Oreal. When I got promoted based on a campaign selling cheap Make-up based on misleading claims, I quit. I started all over, supporting an upcoming German ecofair fashion label called “armedangels” to launch the Social Fashion Revolution. Since then, everything changed…

Are you thinking of other themes in relation to the challenge too… for instance sustainability? Thriftiness?  Reducing consumption?  Personal identity?

As I’m running a Vintage Fashion store in Berlin, I’m surrounded by clothes all day. Happily, these are used clothes and I even get to talk to people about their wardrobes and buying habits many times a day. There are so many people who just want to give clothes and they don’t even want any money. Therefore, we have a swapping box where you can swap items or take clothes for free if you don’t have any money. We organize swapping parties and support upcycling fashion designers. However, the aspect of reducing will be a focus in the future and I want to educate people how to live with less – but with things they dearly love.

That sounds great!  How did you prepare yourself for the Challenge?

I bought two pairs of tights and tried out some outfits. And of course, I already talked to some customers about it and they loved the idea. There is another participant from Berlin and we chatted on facebook a lot – will meet to exchange ideas!

What do you think is the most difficult aspect?

The weather in Berlin is just changing now and I tend to leave the door of my store open because it’s nicer to feel part of the street life. I realized that I’m often layering 2 or 3 cardigans or vests to keep warm. I can’t really wear scarves instore because they annoy me during my work. I’m open for suggestions!

So, what do you think you’ll experience during / after the challenge?

I will see how the fabrics react to frequent washing! Let’s see how my customers react, but I think it’s a great way to get to know them and their view on social issues and sustainability.

And what about your choices? Tell us about the Six items you’ll be wearing…

Well I have been thinking about what to choose even before I applied. My six will be a long black dress by Berlin Label Julia and Ben, just got it at a swapping party. Then a shorter black jersey dress I bought on a fleamarket for 2 Euros. This gives more room to experiment with tights and shoes. Item 3 is a silk maxi tank top – this was a hard choice because it’s very delicate. But it’s my most favourite item. Then 2 cardigans, one lighter wool/cotton mix in burgundy and a thicker one with mohair – black again. I swapped the printed multi-coloured tank I had chosen before for the second cardi as I realized fall will come quicker than expected – well now I’m trying to get the colours through the accessories!

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