By Caspar Lundsgaard-Hansen & Renard Teipelke
The fashion and design scene is booming in Berlin.
The inner-city part of Berlin’s district Neukölln is becoming the latest insider’s tip for the capital city’s cool and hip urban life.
Cultural diversity and ethnic mixture (or segregation depending on the perspective) are key features of Berlin’s immigrant neighborhoods.
Why not bring all these things together?
NEMONA – Network for Fashion & Design is a model project co-funded by the European Social Fund and is a prime example of local network initiatives in sustainable urban development. Based in Mainzer Straße 5 in the northern part of Neukölln (map), the project aims at bringing together fashion designers and producers in a cooperative network that fosters sustainable solutions in the fashion industry on the local level.
Initiated in March 2011, the project will extend its existing network of approximately 50 members and cooperation partners (like Galeries Lafayette, the Create Berlin network, or the international university of art for fashion ESMOD Berlin) over the next two years. The idea is to develop the local economic structures for long-term job and market opportunities as well as to support the sustainable use of resources in the fashion industry. In addition to workshops and training programs for designers and producers, NEMONA will pursue its objectives by fostering local solutions and an integration and broad participation of various socioeconomic and cultural groups.
The preconditions could neither be more challenging nor more interesting: Neukölln is a district that gained plenty of negative media coverage over the past few years. Many neighborhoods of the district are characterized by a distinct Turkish or Arab immigrant culture that is rich in heritage and tradition. At the same time, most social indices for North-Neukölln are extremely low, with multiple social, political, or economic problems – let it be poverty, school drop-outs, youth unemployment and even gang-related delinquency. At the same time, young self-employed professionals have discovered this district – with its affordable rents for living and working – as a hub for cutting-edge production in the creative industry.
It is in this district that NEMONA stakeholders see a chance to bring together the rising attention for Berlin’s fashion industry and the sewing expertise of (mostly) immigrant women in a network that aims at supporting the community economically as well as socially. Several benchmarks have already been achieved: NEMONA and its fashion design members had a joint showroom at Berlin’s Fashion Week in July 2011 and they have organized the Neukölln Fashion Weekend which will take place at the end of this week (September 30 to October 1, 2011). Other (prospective) elements of the project include a cloth buying syndicate, regular network meetings to exchange ideas and experiences, and seminars on business administration and production/sewing techniques.
This article is the first out of three articles this week that will present NEMONA and discuss various topics with respect to network initiatives on the local level.
Check out NEMONA’s facebook page for more information and photos of the project and events.