Slow fashion shopping preferences oftentimes feels like a dietary restriction when travelling. Something specific, and something that somehow seems more “pure” in a way. No gluten, no dairy? No mass market synthetic trends (probably) made from sweatshop labor?
Depending upon the location, research can be arduous and quite often inconclusive. I'd rather not shop at all if my only options are supporting the sick system of pollution and exploitation that is fast fashion - but even if nothing is purchased, I was set on researching Europe's growing sustainable fashion community.
Textiles at the Turkish market in Kreuzberg
After one too many assaults of cold shoulder synthetic ruffly everything in Warsaw while walking in and out of shops along the main road near my hostel, I was a little disappointed. I’m in EUROPE, why are the stores exactly the same as the ones in NYC? Same poly viscose soft woven elasticated neckline bag dresses of questionable origins that I’ve seen all up and down 5th avenue at every price point. Where’s the cool stuff, the artsy stuff- had I expected too much? The stuff that comes with the story of its own unique style, its maker? Upon my arrival in Berlin I scoured the internet to find ethical shopping research opportunities- and to my absolute delight there were more than I had time for!
"Who made my FABRIC?" is an absolutely wonderful question that we don't hear enough when discussing change in the industry. Siebenblau Organic Fabrics has answered this to some extent (unfortunately they don't ship to the US!). I had a LOT of fun poking around through their selection. I mean, a fabric shop composed of ENTIRELY ethical textiles! It's like someone on a plant-based diet at a fully vegan restaurant- you can have anything there instead of picking through the selection to find the few bits that are available to you.
In my NYC experience, buying "sustainable" fashion from a boutiques usually comes along with a hefty price tag. Smaller local designers will sell affordable pieces at weekend markets, but those aren't always on a regular basis. If I absolutely need to shop at home I'll usually go for vintage thrift- in my personal opinion thats the most "sustainable" option anyway. Why purchase virgin materials when we already have an abundance?
As Berlin's fashion industry overall seems more evolved than New York's and there are multiple locations entirely dedicated to sustainable and ethical fashion choices,
"Art is not merely an imitation of the reality of nature, but in truth a metaphysical supplement to the reality of nature, placed alongside thereof for its conquest." - Friedrich Nietzsche
I fell for Berlin the moment I stepped outside the airport and breathed her energy.
Kreuzberg's Turkish market- a mixture of various cultures with fresh produce, fabric, snacks and live music. It's absolutely dreamy, if you're ever in Berlin please go and experience!
Art was everywhere. Skilfully applied, cheeky and thought-provoking public art.
***PERSONAL FAVORITE, A+ BERLIN***
I'm not sure what I was expecting to experience in Poland. An iinner identity renaissance catalysed by the motherland? Some spiritual epiphany amongst the catholicism run rampant? Or just a beer-and-pierogie-fueled joyride?
Eastern Poland is cold and still haunted by communism. Ravaged and mangled Marxist energies hang over Warsaw in the form of boxy buildings and a general suspicious contempt for foreigners. Forward movement is attempted in the fresh coats of brightly coloured paint over what was once abysmally grey architecture, and the commercial storefronts prominently displaying various international goods that were previously banned and found only in black markets.