Fashion Exchange: antidote to big brands


Demand for fashion and accessories has enjoyed an unprecedented plethora of new brands hitting markets across the world. Some of these players have, due to their financial potency, been in a position to rule the world in terms of sales volume. Moreover they have been dominating the mainstream look and feel for women and men around Europe and the rest of the world alike.

The Inditex Group might not be too familiar, but they own brands like Zara, Massimo Dutti, Üterque, Bershka, Stradivarius, Zara Home, Oysho, and Pull and Bear. All these brands have obviously different positionings in order to meet the demands and requirements of their respective target groups.

Looking at customer behaviour in Germany, it will come as no surprise that the main shopping streets in the major cities are quite interchangeable: with big retail names like H&M, Zara, Primark, Mano, Zero and many more.

Primark denim ad

This has inevitably created a quite uniform look amongst millennials or Gen Y/Z. Skinny jeans, parka, sneakers, shorts and shirts. With such dominant positioning, there is not enough space for individual forms of expression.

Moreover, scalability and financial results are at the top of the agenda for these mega-million companies. Even if H&M has branched out and is very creative in order to feel the pulse of contemporary currents with new concepts like Arket, there is a growing number of people from all walks of life and ages who want to have something different and more individual.

And here begins our story of Deine eigenART and their new platform for Fashion Exchange (FAEX), as told by Managing Director Ingo Müller-Dormann. Having spent his formative years as tour manager of famous music bands, he came up with the idea of creating a roadshow for local designers to present their talents, products and ultimately brands.

When he started in 2013 in a number of cities in Germany, he wasn’t really sure what to expect. Since then, more than 50,000 visitors have been at the shows, and they are adding new cities like Würzburg, München, Melsungen and Bayreuth in 2018.

Why are more and more people happy to go to Deine eigenART Fashion Exchange?

Inundated by the mass market products that until recently were produced by child labour and are still being produced in sweatshop conditions, people are looking for new brands that have a sustainable story to tell. A story that has local content, and gives the buyer a rewarding feeling of doing something beneficial for the environment – while supporting designers and artists who normally would not have the power to go out and make their work and craft seen.

Fashion Exchange is a marketplace for handmade, bespoke, individual design with sustainable ingredients. The four defining pillars of FAEX are: knowledge, funding, production and sales.

I met two of the designers who are part of FAEX in Leipzig and was really impressed by their work.

One of them is Elias Koster, founder and CEO of Design Your Bike, a Swiss company that has decided to disrupt the bike industry by offering custom made bikes for urban commuters. The bikes come in 3 sizes, 52/56/59 cm, and can be upgraded with a configurator for all individual parts such as saddle, pedals, colour, accessories and many more.

fashion exchange
Happy customers are encouraged to instagram the bikes they design.

Each bike is hand made in Berlin, and you can either go to the store in Berlin for the final fitting or order everything online. The design of the bikes is Swiss, but Koster has moved to Berlin to be at the core of one of Europe’s fastest growing startup scenes, and to get the startup community feeling. The bikes have this clean chic appeal and look totally contemporary stylish.

fashion exchange
Berlina Pflanze in Vogue. (Photo: Nicola Rehbein)

The second designer was Inga Lieckfeldt with her label Berlina Pflanze. All dressed up in signature black with edgy details to her clothes and accessories, this young woman founded her label after graduating and has since steadily built an ever growing fan base and audience in Berlin.

Her shop on Frankfurter Allee, SYLD STORE in Friedrichshain, has become a small Mecca for offbeat, edgy design with an amazing USP. As she works by herself in her studio, each piece is unique and you can’t get it twice. Although everything is bespoke and sourced from local Berlin suppliers, her prices are surprisingly moderate.

On my next visit, I will definitely pay a visit to SYLD STORE.

But for the time being – SAVE THE DATE: Fashion Exchange on 25 February, from 11–17:00 at Haus Leipzig!

fashion exchange

By Uemit Appenzeller

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