Berlin got hit by winter early this year. While the novelty of seeing everyone's favorite techno metropolis covered in a foot of snow might be exciting at the start, living in sub-zero temperatures for days at a time is bringing an enduring deep freeze to the international capital of cool.
Luckily, Berliners pride themselves on dressing for the weather. And, as any Berlin fashionista will tell you, weather appropriate fashion by no means needs to compromise on style. Berlin’s streetwear scene, often known for its grungy, brooding, and effortlessly futuristic looks, has never been a one that values style over substance; the considered, detail-focused looks that define the scene reflect a community that takes deep care for upholding pride in its craft.
From atop a concrete tower overlooking Kreuzberg’s Moritzplatz, Zalando and Refuge Worldwide—a radio platform and community fundraising organization from Berlin—embarked on a tour starting in Berlin, a city renowned for its techno beats, fashion flair, and dynamic self-expression. The tour's inaugural stop featured a panel discussion moderated by Refuge Worldwide, delving into the intricate tapestry of Berlin's creative communities. The dialogue unfolded among curator Dhanesh Jayaselan, and photographer Agatha Skoljar, exploring the city's role as a global trend influencer.
Diving into his own experiences as part of the Berlin creative scene, Refuge’s own Richard Akingbehin discussed the evolution of Refuge Worldwide from a fundraising platform to a radio station. Richard's journey into Berlin's music scene was fueled by a commitment to fostering a space for marginalized voices. Refuge Worldwide has evolved into a dynamic hub, uniting diverse collectives and radio stations. When asked about the inspiration behind the initiative, Richard emphasized their vision of combining a love for music with creating a community space in Berlin.
Dhanesh's own career in creative direction began unexpectedly after leaving the biomedical science field. His entry into Berlin's artistic circles, coupled with his cross-continental background, shaped a multidimensional perspective. Drawing inspiration from his heritage and experiences in Melbourne, Dhanesh highlighted the importance of challenging cultural stereotypes in storytelling. He emphasized the impact of music, particularly genres that challenge norms, on shaping his creative process.
Agatha Powa's lens captures Berlin's essence, transforming experiences into visual narratives. As an immigrant and neurodiverse individual, she finds solace in expressing herself through visuals, allowing room for interpretation. Agatha views Berlin as a city still in its infancy compared to others but with an ever growing creative trajectory. Its reinvention since the fall of the Wall has made it a global trendsetter, particularly in club culture. She notes the impressive speed at which Berlin attracts people from around the world, contributing to its unique and evolving cultural and fashion scene.
Wrapping up stop number one, we got to see up close how creatives in Berlin showcase the profound connection between creative expression and the formation of cultural communities, with the panel unraveling the intricacies of Berlin's dynamic creative scene. The international and transient nature of the city was highlighted as a catalyst for innovation, influencing global trends in the realms of artistry and fashion. As we conclude this immersive experience in Berlin, we look forward to the next stops, Frankfurt, where we’ll open up a discussion on how communities and collaboration facilitate creativity, and in Munich, where we’ll explore how curation is a central tool for community building in the Munich creative scene.