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Openness, diversity and a ‘certain roughness’: Inside Berlin Fashion Week’s revival

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“There’s something that’s very Berlin about rethinking values and being informed about what’s going on in the world and being vocal about it,” adds Rosa Marga Dahl, co-founder and creative director of SF1OG.

The theme is a pertinent statement given the political environment in Germany: there are growing divisions between the east and west; there’s growing support for (and protests against) right-wing populist party Alternative for Germany (AFD); and the country narrowly missed entering its second year of recession.

“We are experiencing an alarming shift to right-wing politics and parties in Germany, across Europe and the world,” said Michael Biel, state secretary of the Department for Economics, Energy and Public Enterprises at the BFW opening dinner, which was held at upscale steakhouse Grill Royal. “It is therefore important to me to make one thing very clear tonight: we will not tolerate this in Berlin. We clearly oppose all forms of discrimination, antisemitism, Islamophobia and fascism in Berlin fashion.”

Michael Biel, state secretary of the Department for Economics, Energy and Public Enterprises, at the opening dinner.

Investing in emerging talent

The German city’s fashion industry is made up of around 5,000 companies and employs 26,000 people, according to the Senate Department for Economics, Energy and Public Enterprises. Berlin’s creativity and fashion scene is a “big and growing economic factor”, Biel tells Vogue Business. “Berlin Fashion Week is our window to the world for presenting our labels and new trends, but in a greater sense, also for presenting a city that breathes innovation, openness, freedom and diversity. Our designers and labels are daring, sometimes subversive, always innovative and most of all, they put great emphasis on sustainability.”

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