FASH 2017 / 3. July 2017
Now is the time to come together
Honorific Speech at the European Fashion Award FASH 2017 by Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth MdB
Ladies and Gentlemen, Valued guests from abroad,
you have an exciting week at Berlin Fashion Week ahead. Berlin is very much in vogue: and the success of Fashion Week is proof of that. The international fashion scene has been meeting in the German capital for several years now, just as it has in New York, Paris, London, and Milan.
I thank the Stiftung der Deutschen Bekleidungsindustrie [German Fashion Industry Foundation] for offering the European Fashion Award award since 2004. It’s an excellent initiative!
I would also like to welcome the members of the jury and especially, our prize winners, five charming young women and one charming young man to today’s event.
As a man, I hope it’s okay for me to make the following comment: unfortunately, in almost all areas of life, men still receive awards more frequently than women. Today, it is refreshing to see that this is not the case. Today it is a celebration of your work and your ideas, not a gender.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
People rarely think that politicians have an interest in fashion. Politics and fashion are often viewed as opposites: fashion is seen as superficial and politics as serious. Or to take it to another extreme: fashion is seen as something pure and politics as dirty. So now is the time, I think, to come together and get rid of those misunderstandings once and for all.
That is why I’m so happy to be here with you today. I feel very at home here. I like fashion. It moves with the times and starts new trends. It reflects our personalities and shapes our identities. It is also a snapshot of our society.
The title “European Fashion Award” makes one thing very clear: fashion is not national, fashion is European and fashion is global. It is cosmopolitan. And as the Minister of State for Europe, I am particularly happy about this. Fashion is not bound by borders, but instead brings people from all over the world closer together – and does so with very little fuss. This international, unifying character clearly makes fashion a friend of the Federal Foreign Office.
As winners of the European Fashion Award 2017, you are ambassadors of a “different Europe”. Your work and your successes show that there is more to Europe than dry bureaucracy or political deals. Europe is a statement. Europe is a common space of culture and life. For my part, I believe that Europe should be less about figures and laws. It should be more about how our ideas, creativity, culture, and values join us together.
This is why fashion and design have recently become more important to our external cultural policy. At the Foreign Office, we tend to know a little bit about everything. This doesn’t make us more creative, however, and we certainly don’t know more about fashion than you do. But despite this, there is one thing that we do know for certain: fashion is an important economic and cultural based factor, fashion is international and can bring people together.
That’s why we were so pleased when the German Parliament granted funds to the Foreign Office for the creative industries in 2016 for the very first time. We want to use these funds to promote links between the cultural and creative industries. We also want to use them to make German culture and creative industries better known across the world.
There are so many creative young Germans, just like you, working all over the globe. Our country reflects this: Germany has become much more colorful and diverse. There is now more to our country than great cars and excellent engineers. And we still have even more left to offer, such as well-educated, young people with fresh ideas like you.
Please: take this message to Europe and the world. The cultural sector thrives off color, openness, and diversity. We need more of this. Nationalists and populists, bigots and cynics are not just my opposition: they’re your opposition too. Sadly, the voices that see diversity as a threat rather than an opportunity are getting louder.
We all have a responsibility to stand against them. And I’m glad to have the creative industries by our side. This is not just because we want to make our creative industries better known, but also so we can then focus on issues such as sustainability, innovation, and new media too.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I’ve been told that the European Fashion Award is one of the most distinguished international awards for fashion students. Winners of the award have excellent career prospects. More than 200 students from almost 30 countries have entered the competition. All of the award-winners this year come from Germany. This shows the very high quality of the German fashion industry. We all have a reason to celebrate this. As a politician, I envy you a little. You’re often independent and unconventional, courageous and brave. Stay open, stay curious – and keep inspiring one another. I wish you all a very happy start to Berlin Fashion Week.