German fashion awareness A Classic Archetype Becomes an Endangered Species

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Practical, nondescript and out of fashion: whereas neighbouring countries view Fashion more and more as a cultural asset, in Germany there is still a lack of openness and a lack of fun in experimenting in the fashion world. Nevertheless, thanks to the international blogger scene and the wide selection of fashion products online, things have started to change.

It hasn’t become second nature to us Germans quite yet; as fashion expeditions to other European countries clearly show. Italy, for example, excels with top quality products and elegant design, France has its renowned flirtatious charm and the UK stands out from the crowd partly through its classic style and partly through its amazing commitment to progressive and extravagant change. Scandinavian countries have also reached international acclaim with their somewhat cool but ingenious and imaginative style, and the Dutch are always daring, with a keen eye for the latest trends.

In comparison, the description of the German fashion scene is very much more sober. An easy-going, natural approach to creating fashion doesn’t seem to come naturally to Germans. It would appear that they often fail to distinguish between clothing and fashion. This lack of understanding is also reflected in the comparatively low cultural significance ascribed to fashion.

Bread&Butter “Ich bin ein Berliner” (2014) Bread&Butter “Ich bin ein Berliner” (2014) | © breadandbutter.com (Franziska Taffelt) Not that Germany produces fewer creative talents than other countries – there are plenty of outstanding examples that prove the opposite. The more interesting fact is that few of them remain here as an active player. In other countries fashion and fashion designers are appreciated much more and, above all, they are encouraged and promoted.

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This situation in Germany is not going to change at the push of a button. However, for some time now, fashion trade activities have started to move. Connectivity is the buzzword– people who used to look for trends at their local store can now follow blogs, online magazines and shops, and find out all they want to know about all the latest styles, right down to the smallest detail. This puts them in touch with the world of fashion and opens up a completely new picture. Trends become more tangible, and by gaining a broader perspective fashion can be approached more naturally and with greater confidence. This in turn encourages people to implement own fashion ideas and spurs them on. Now, of course, fashion retailers need to create more incentives for customers who want to shop online, because the customer profile a retailer may have once relied on for its own brand and fashion products can become obsolete almost overnight. In Germany there has been a significant increase in fashion awareness in recent years.

Unconventional looks and inconsistency in style

Premium, Sommer 2014 Premium, Sommer 2014 | © Jennifer Fey But it is not just the internet and international influences that are inspiring a new approach to fashion. Fashion itself has set this process in motion. It started several years ago, very gradually: the increasing casualization of clothing that created a stimulus for change. It broke with the old fashion approach with its criteria of aesthetic and stiff combinations, and moved on to create unconventional looks – from everyday fashion up to the business outfit. Inconsistency in style became a Leitmotiv and continues to define the looks and combinations of today. Clumpy boots with fine silk dresses, worn with a chunky woollen scarf, the classy, crisp-cut blazer to go with denim for everyday office wear. This fashion shift has led to a style with more coordinates and separates. A mix-and-match principle under which brands can be shuffled just like styles and qualities. This new concept produces a practically inexhaustible pool of design options and makes it easier to create one’s own, personal and individual style. At the same time, this approach means a new challenge and demands a great deal more attention. Because if ready-made solutions and policies no longer apply, we need to be more courageous and more creative – and this will certainly benefit the development of the German fashion image.