This piece appears as part of BERLIN, BERLIN — a week-long virtual celebration of creativity in the city Highsnobiety calls home. See the full series here.

This summer, we announced Highsnobiety's very first fashion prize. Dedicated to supporting fashion in the city that Highsnobiety calls home, the BERLIN, BERLIN Prize will be awarded to one emerging designer or brand who is pushing the boundaries of our field.

Open to all Berlin residents, we particularly encouraged those who took a non-traditional route into the industry to apply. The winner of the BERLIN, BERLIN Prize will receive €20,000, which will be dedicated to expanding their practice, and they will also have the opportunity to be stocked on the Highsnobiety Shop, along with our global curation of brands.

Together with our panel of judges — ACRONYM founder Errolson Hugh, Mumi Haiati of Reference Studios, designer Yolanda Zobel, formally Creative Director at Courrèges, 032c's Octavia Bürgel, Highsnobiety's Herbert Hofmann, and Serhat Isik and Benjamin Alexander Huseby from Berlin label GmbH — we have selected eight finalists for the BERLIN, BERLIN Prize.

From a designer taking inspiration from their family history, a digital-first "hybrid" fashion house, all the way to an ex-retail employee dedicated to making authentic streetwear, meet the BERLIN, BERLIN Prize finalists below.

SOJI SOLARIN

Tell me about your label.

SOJI SOLARIN is a Berlin-based label. The brand started as a menswear label and is currently moving towards a more gender-inclusive approach. My inspiration comes from my background and when I envision my clothes, I picture them on Black people like myself. I feel we struggle the most with representation in the industry — authentic, genuine representation that is.

Can you describe your upcoming collection?

The inspiration for my next collection are my aunts. I went through a challenging time last year and having them reach out daily with a phone call or a text of encouragement reminded me of the safety and comfort they sheltered me with growing up.

These feelings, coupled with the memories I have of my aunts — how they dressed back then and my perception of them as the definition of “cool” — is the inspiration for my first attempt at womenswear. In addition to this, I referenced images by Jacob Nduzie, a Cameroonian street photographer who established his photo studio in a supermarket and photographed the store’s customers between 1995 - 2006.

Kasia Kucharska / Kasia Kucharska, Wanda Wollinsky, Reiner Törner

Tell me about your label.

We were upset by the pace at which our industry produces and its role in escalating a wasteful society, so it was important for us to set up our own terms and collaborate according to our own rules. We see a need for design that grows organically and is opposed to seasonally-driven fashion, and we only want to put out products that we feel are ready and add something valuable to someone’s wardrobe.

We create garments out of latex with zero waste that are sustainable, fully biodegradable and can inclusively cater to any shape or size. We believe latex is a really fascinating material, which at the moment is still considered almost exclusively for fetish wear. Through our work we want to introduce this amazing material to a broader audience and show it in a new context.

Why did you apply for the BERLIN, BERLIN Prize?

We feel Berlin is a city where one still has the space to explore and elaborate one’s ideas without too much pressure for instant (financial) success. This gives an opportunity for many creatives like us to come up with new ideas and solutions to revitalize fashion’s ways of working. With the BERLIN, BERLIN Prize, Highsnobiety is shining a light on this growing scene and we're happy to be recognized as part of it.

Loïc Gros

Tell me about your label.

Loic Gros is a genderless fashion brand blending tailored style and casual wear with a contemporary touch. Each garment proposes casual elegance, drawing inspiration from the silhouettes of early haute couture. Through careful fabric selection and considered design, each piece is cut to drape the body, fall beautifully and feel good to wear.

What do you think would change if you won the BERLIN, BERLIN Prize?

Winning this prize would allow me to expand my brand, be able to afford a studio, and to invest in professional machines — my collections so far have been crafted on a household Singer sewing machine in my bedroom. Winning this prize would allow me to give more space to this thing that I know is my life’s work.

SF1OG / Rosa Marga Dahl

Tell me about your label.

My label is called SF1OG which is the short term for "Seitenflügel 1. Obergeschoss," the location of my old apartment where I started the brand. Since I've always worked with what surrounds me, it felt super natural to use a lot of recycled materials as a resource. In the beginning I only created experimental one-of-one pieces but now I've started a second line that offers a small scale of reproduced signature items.

What do you think would change if you won the BERLIN, BERLIN Prize?

I would be able to take my small business to the next level. Currently we are in the transition phase of having all these ideas but only a small budget and a small team, and all that it takes is a small push to bring us to the next level. Me and my marketing and management partner, Jacob, could create an actual company. We could finance a small studio space (currently I am sewing everything myself in my living room), we could afford an in-house tailor to help us out and we can go into production with many key pieces from the next collection.

Maison Taskin / Taskin Göç

Why did you want to start a brand?

I am quite nerdy when it comes to fashion but I never really liked the way the industry holds on to old tradition. My work incorporates the idea of virtual and hybrid garments and anticipates how we will interact with fashion in the future, both online and offline. Initially the name Maison Taskin was meant ironically as the brand was the total opposite of a French heritage house. However I am developing an idea for what a fashion house in the near future could look like.

Tell me about your label.

Every piece is rooted in a non-physical space of desire. I also refer to it as the virtual swamp because it is earthy, sweaty, strange and raw. It is the source for an optimistic vision for the future of fashion: one that is abundant yet ethical. I am addressing a young community that celebrates the frivolity and richness of fashion while considering the impact it has on the environment. The development process is ethical in the sense that it is all digital, wastes no physical resources and produces only what fits into our material reality.

Social media allows us to articulate a side of ourselves that is very real but tends to be repressed in our everyday lives. Hence my goal is to design pieces that cater to the disparate desires and potentials we develop in those different contexts.

Anne Isabella

Tell me about your label.

I want produce clothes that retain a sense of creativity and luxury whilst also appealing to women across generations. I always think that the designs need to work just as well for my mom, as for myself.

I’m also motivated by the challenge of creating collections that are produced in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. I’m already using upcycled, deadstock, recycled or GOTS-certified materials but I'm interested in trying new techniques and materials.

Why did you apply for the BERLIN, BERLIN Prize?

While I am very lucky to be able to launch my third collection for SS22, little did I know that when I started the label in 2020 I was about to face the challenge of dealing with a global pandemic. It has been a really difficult time to stay afloat as a start-up, so the financial support would be a tremendous relief.

DAGGER / Luke Rainey

Why did you want to start a brand?

Back in December '21, like many others around the world, I lost my job due to Covid. Facing a new world that was rapidly changing, I realised so must I. It had always been an ambition to start my own brand but, working a 6 day week, I had never had time or energy to put into something like this.

I saved my government unemployment payments and put it toward building my first capsule. I saw this as an opportunity to change my career direction and go for my dream. In May 21 I launched with 3 core branded T-shirts's which included an actual line from my job dismissal letter: "We wish you all the best with your professional future and personal wellbeing" which sold out in the first month allowing me to reprint and add 2 more products to the line up. I created this brand out of nothing, with all odds against it, but streetwear is born out of struggle so DAGGER is nothing if not authentic. I am proud of that.

Why did you apply for the BERLIN, BERLIN Prize?

It seems that streetwear is dominated by wealth these days. I want to be clear — I am not another rich kid with a hobby. I do not have the bankroll to go and create a 10 piece collection with a huge minimum order quantity. It is simply out of the question for the little guys which is why so many start up streetwear brands never develop past a simple T-shirt. I applied for the BERLIN, BERLIN prize because it would give me the means to build the collection I know I am capable of. Having worked in luxury retail for 10 years, I want to use my knowledge of fabrics and fits and make some quality fucking streetwear — I am not here to sell you Gildan Tees.

Clara Colette Miramon

Tell me about your label.

Fashion is my medium to explore the complexity of female sexuality and envision how it can exist outside the male gaze. In my collections, iconic pop cultural moments are melded with traditional techniques, and historical European garments. My clothing is for pop stars, artists and everyday bad bitches.

Can you describe your upcoming collection?

My upcoming collection ‘Butterfly Season One’ is inspired by my childhood memories of doing ballet. I was very inspired by Pina Bausch and the way she talked to her dancers about dance. She says “I am not interested in how you move, but what moves you”. It made me think a lot about our relationship with the body and how women present themselves.

Stylistically I take inspiration from dancewear, body modification, underwear and historical undergarments. The looks combine slinky flared leggings with fully boned corsets, body hugging dresses with cutouts that trace the shape of the body, and playfully psychedelic butterfly prints with cloudy puffer jackets.

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