Reference Studios is a communications agency connecting the dots between fashion, PR, and experiential marketing in Berlin, and from partner offices in London, Paris, and Milan. Among Reference's clients are Slam Jam, 032c, SSS World Corp, and Our Legacy.
To learn more about the company, we met up with Reference Studios' friends and family — as lensed by photographer Matt Lambert — and spoke to company founder Mumi Haiati about Reference's various arms, how the company is connecting Berlin to the wider fashion world, and this year's upcoming Reference Berlin festival.
Tell us how Reference Studios has grown into what it is today. How is it different from other PR agencies?
Reference Studios is essentially a more mature version of my earlier, eponymous establishment Bureau Haiati; which, looking back, was more of a one-man-show. I wanted to create an institution everyone could relate to, something more democratic. Since everything starts with a reference and ideally, eventually becomes a point of reference, I thought it was the perfect name for what I intended to achieve. My vision was to evolve. Build something greater, more accessible and faceted. Now, Reference is on its way to become a platform with different arms - communications, a festival and further departments which will be unveiled in the near future.
Why do you think Berlin is such a point of interest for designers and the fashion industry at large?
Berlin has an amazing energy, there's a unique vibrance in the art scene, in music and nightlife. Especially in times of Trump and Brexit, it very much feels like a magnet for like-minded people. Berlin is Europe's main creative hub. On a level, it provides an amount of freedom no other capital can compete with. I suppose that's why the industry is curious about the city – you're likely to catch a feeling of unlimited opportunity – which makes it the ideal place for research and experimentation. And I'm not even talking about club culture. Compared to other capitals, there is a certain authenticity. There is less pressure, plus a sentiment of a very German feeling – being down to earth. At times it feels utopian.
How is Reference Studios putting Berlin on the map as a bona fide fashion city?
I don't know of another agency in Germany operating on a level as international as ours. We host events internationally; during art fairs and fashion weeks, with a focus on Paris, Milan and London. Still, we consider ourselves a, so to say, simple communications agency – globally striving for quality and outstanding service. Nothing more, nothing less.
I believe, by doing just that, we put Berlin on the map. We represent our base internationally on the best level possible.
Tell us about the different arms of Reference Studios. What kinds of clients do you have and what services do you offer them?
At the core, there is communications, consultancy and events. Then there is the festival launching this year. We are specialized in experiential marketing and building and maintaining communities. Our portfolio is multilayered; we operate in an often disruptive manner.
We work with Italian streetwear giant Slam Jam, the iconic 032c, Justin O`shea’s SSS World Corp, the amazing Swedes Our Legacy (which I personally love to wear) and progressive eyewear brand Gentle Monster, just to name a few - adding to our variety is Spazio Maiocchi (a creative space run by Slam Jam & Carhartt in Milan) which is a cultural game changer in the Milanese landscape.
Also we have more unexpected projects like Hoodoo - an immersive theatre which will be premiering in Berlin soon, or our MTV Yo! Raps Series. 2019 will bring streetwear and luxury fashion even closer together. Where worlds collide, we are in our natural habitat and shine.
Reference studios has a big focus on communities and subcultures, can you talk about some of these and how they inform the business ?
Communities and subcultures are the greatest leaders of opinion and society alike. They are the genuine source of information and inspiration. Throughout our team and output, Reference Studios has a natural connection to subculture. We're a group of individuals, and that's exactly how we approach our work. Subculture has contributed so much to Berlin as we know it today. There is a space for everyone; as an agency we wish to consider and represent that. Engaging in any community equals constant exchange. Only by supporting each other we can evolve.
Finally, tell us more about the festival Reference Studios has planned for 2019. What is it, who will be involved, and where will it be?
Reference Berlin, the festival, will launch this spring. We'll leak all details within the next few weeks. Expect special projects from our partner 032c who function as the festival's co-curator, Random Identities, contributions from GmbH, Gucci and many more. Expect something new. Stay tuned.