FASH 2015 / 6. July 2015
Speech by Tobias Gröber, Chairman
Ladies and Gentlemen, dear Winners:
Today marks the 10th presentation of our newcomer designer award, the European Fashion Award FASH. The award started out with modest beginnings and gained a lot of strength along the way.
The non-profit “Stiftung der Deutschen Bekleidungsindustrie” (Germany Fashion Industry Foundation), in short SDBI, was founded in 1978 by Klaus Steilmann, at the time Europe’s largest manufacturer of women’s fashion. When Messe München took over the Modewoche München (Munich Fashion Week) in 1996, we also voluntarily took on the management of SDBI. Until 2004 the foundation provided direct endorsement for a small circle of talented students. There was hardly any public relations activity or follow-up support. In 2004 we tasked Joachim Schirrmacher with the reorganization to better meet the challenges of our increasingly more global, faster and more complex world of fashion.
Visions, Creativity and Passion
We launched the European Fashion Award FASH competition in 2005, and expanded it to a global level in 2011 thanks to its popularity. In 2008, the foundation’s charitable work was honored by the German government and business initiative “Germany – Land of Ideas”.
The laudation reads: “Vision, creativity and passion are the components with which SDBI sets long-term signals for the future in the rather fast-moving world of fashion”.
Germany Needs Creative Minds
Contrary to other industries the German fashion industry doesn’t treat its young designers very well. There is very little systematic endorsement, or research and development. To find an answer for the future of fashion in our country we need creativity. Our federal government has recognized this fact: “The creative industry, which also includes the fashion sector, is one of the most important economic branches of the export nation of Germany. Without our creative minds Germany, as a country with few natural resources, would not be able to survive in the global competition”, said Minister of State Cornelia Pieper at our reception two years ago.
Yet little has happened since these comments were made. Contrary to other sectors of the creative industry, there is almost no support for fashion in Germany. To safeguard our future we appeal to all political decision makers to take countries like Italy, France, England, Turkey or the United States as role models; countries that invest millions in a sustainable endorsement of the fashion sector.
SDBI Award Winners Are Successful
We believe that fashion only has a future in Europe if it is at the highest level of creativity and skill. The 95 winners we have honored in the last ten years are proof that this is possible. Many of them went on to win other important awards. Tim Labenda (FASH 2013) and Ioana Ciolacu from Romania (FASH 2011) and their labels are probably our best-known winners, and enjoy commercial success with collections for Brands4Friends, Peek & Cloppenburg or Zalando. Philip Rudzinski (FASH 2013) is currently presenting his first Denim collection for Wormland. Katrin Sergejew (FASH 2007) will present at the Brandenburg Gate on Thursday. Most SDBI award winners work behind the scenes for companies like Adidas, Akris, Hugo Boss, G-Star, Schumacher or Zalando, for designers like Vivienne Westwood or Wolfgang Joop – some of them already at senior designer level. Their creative and crafting skills are undeniably impressive. Their realistic designs are an alternative to globalized popular fashion. Even their showpieces contain a lot of potential for commercial adaptation. The fact that they are able to create new and relevant fashion over and over again in an era where it seems everything has already been done before inspires our advisory board, the jury and our team. Yet we see that success is not always a question of talent, but also of personality. The hard work the industry requires is often underestimated.
Mentors and Talent Exchanges: New Types of Endorsement
Despite all the success – while in the past, business success tended to follow in the footsteps of the media attention – today, the span of attention extinguishes faster than a shooting star. Talented individuals have become part of the entertainment industry. New types of endorsement are needed, as are notable contributions by all institutions.
For that reason we decided to launch a mentoring program. This applies a preset format to our years of coaching. A new feature is the support offered by designers with a few years of business experience for the winners. It creates an eye-level dialogue. One of the major challenges for the winners is to succeed in making the transition from their own world into the professional world of fashion.
The first Mentoring Day was held in November 2014 with support by Zalando. We also recently visited the Pitti Uomo in Florence together with the award winners. Just like our award has consistently expanded, the mentoring program will also undergo development. We hope that the award winners from the various years will increase their networking activities and support each other.
The quality of the submissions has been increasing considerably over the years. We expect that the close to 150 projects will be very attractive to employers. To provide companies with an opportunity to preview them we are launching the first Talent Exchange in Munich on October 14th, 2015, with the goal that businesses approach the students directly to apply at their companies. This will make the European Fashion Award FASH even more attractive for students and businesses.
We hope that these two initiatives will help turn the delicate, growing talents – rather under the radar – into strong trees.
Investment in the Future
The current situation shows how critical the endorsement of new talents is – the popularity of fashion has suffered enormously, its consumer market share has dropped 30 percent within the last few years. Fashion companies that were considered brilliant role models only yesterday are forced to sell or declare bankruptcy. Even the brightest minds comment: “I don’t know anymore.”
Gordon Giers of Closed and founding member of our Circle of Friends gets to the heart of the issue with the answer to this challenge: “New talent endorsement is a value in itself. It is not charity but an investment in the future.” Be a part of it!
SDBI and Partner
The work of SDBI is supported by Messe München and members of the SDBI Circle of Friends: Allude, Bueronardin, Closed as well as Freitag. Additional partners of the European Fashion Award FASH 2015: Dittmann & Friends (catering), Formes (mannequins), Graf’s Kontor, Kultur- & Hotelprojekte, Michael Sontag (styling) Silk Relations (public relations), Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and VDP. Die Prädikatsweingüter.
The use of these images is permitted only for media reports about the Stiftung der Deutschen Bekleidungsindustrie (German Fashion Industry Foundation); photography by Franco P. Tettamanti may only be used until June 30th, 2017. Copyright must be included for identification.
For more informations please contact:
German Fashion Industry Foundation
Director/Chairman of the Board
+49 30 544 850 60
German Fashion Industry Foundation
+49 89 949 20151