Hailing from Berlin, Germany, MALINA is the sustainable womenswear label to watch. In collection 'Immortality', grotesque, avant-garde looks in natural materials, like wood, mushrooms and natural rubber tree, meet an emotional theme. Using zero waste patterns, recycling and futuristic techniques, like laser cut technology and 3D printing, the designs allude to a symbiosis of human anatomy, floral structures and a fictive, unnatural phenomenon, expressing a desire for eternal life.
What does 'Immortality', the collection, stand for?
My womenswear collection 'Immortality' is concerned with two questions - does immortality exist? What could be a base for a long life? My vision says the solution for a long existence lies in a sustainable and conscious lifestyle, which means all humans should find a way back to the nature. The design is inspired by a symbiosis of human anatomy and floral structures. I was fascinated by this fictive and complex topic, because, on one hand, there is actually no immortality in the fashion branch and, on the other hand, fashion opens an immortal medium to us.
What were the different stages in the collection's development?
I like to develop my concepts with other designers, artist and science institutions, so I collaborated with a 3D artist, a vegan accessories designer, a shoe designer and the MenschenMuseum in Berlin. The museum offered us human organs for the 3D project and exhibited the collection during Berlin Fashion Week. It is important for me to have a wearable line, combined of the ready-to-wear looks, and a separate avant-garde line, which expresses fashion in a more artistic way. There were different stages, like developing the idea, design, material research and managing the whole process.
"My vision says the solution for a long existence lies in a sustainable and conscious lifestyle, which means all humans should find a way back to the nature."
MALINA 'Immortality' #Savant
You mentioned zero waste patterns and 3D printing. How have these techniques and technologies been incorporated into your collections and collaboration work?
In the context of zero waste patterns, I used a really natural soft tencel jersey, which was sponsored by the company Elastics in Germany, and feels like a second skin on your body. The elastic fabric was perfect for the zero waste technique, because I developed a pattern, which doesn't produce fabric leftovers. We are working on innovative 3D design, because I see the future of fashion as a symbiosis of futuristic techniques and sustainable concepts. In collaboration with the 3D artist Alejandro Delgado and the MenschenMuseum in Berlin, we scanned human organs to create the 3D jewellery and the 3D dress, and to transport the anatomy to the surface. The 3D technology is interpreted as a creative and innovative medium to preserve the physical existence of a human being, and thus makes it immortal.
What are the key sustainability principles you follow?
My key sustainability principles are expanding the knowledge of fashion industries to develop sustainable models and ethical solutions. In addition, it's important for us to offer jobs in fashion industry in Germany to establish a local production, which is focused on a social responsibility and responsible business management.
Do you think clothing industry waste is somehow a regional or cultural issue concerning some more than the others?
I think clothing industry waste is more of a cultural issue. For us in West Europe, the different international countries where production takes place are not transparent enough throughout the process and the origin often remains unclear. For a sustainable industry, it is important to handle production consciously in a social, economical and ecological way, because only these three fields cooperating together make a real difference. A sustainable industry is only given, when there is a local sourcing circle.
Are there any restrictions that make producing ethically difficult?
I think there aren't restrictions to an ethical production, but it entirely depends on the company that decides which path they want to follow, and whether they decide to go for an ethical manufacturing way. If so, they will always find solutions to put it into practice. For many companies, it more comfortable to produce in the Third World in huge quantities and sell it very cheaply here, in the West. The question is, do we really need this excess of garments? We don't need it and I also think it is better to have less garments in a better quality. It depends on the passion and motivation of the companies to change their ways of direction. Everything is possible.
Why is promoting sustainability important for you? On the other hand, why is environmental awareness important on a wider global scale?
During my studies, I recognised that fashion is, all at once, a beautiful world, but there is this ugly side to it, because of the unethical conditions and methods being used. Sustainability is my passion, and that gives me the impulse to work towards it, so the production, materials and concepts are influenced by studies into sustainability. For our future, it is important to handle fashion production consciously. If every company would work in fair conditions, it would be highly successful on a wider global scale. With my company, I would like to be that change.
"A sustainable industry is only given, when there is a local sourcing circle."
What's your relationship with today's speed culture? Have you ever thought about embracing a slower lifestyle?
Nowadays, we always yearn for something new and fast. As a consequence, we don't think about processes and inner values, when we make our decisions. This phenomenon can specially be recognised in social media networking, which is a good incubator for speed culture. Finally, this lifestyle results in a lack of appreciation, which we don't even realise because it is not always present. I prefer a slower lifestyle, which is more focused on possessing essential items and remembering our roots, these are the real values.
What are your thoughts on today's digital culture and fashion marketing - has the presence of various digital platforms and abundance of information flow made it harder/easier to reach your desired audience?
The digital culture opens many possibilities for smarter and more sustainable strategies, so the sharing society trades on the digital development, when I think about sharing platforms for garments. Moreover, the world of fashion marketing has also changed with social media, so I collaborate with other sustainable brands to support each other. Nowadays, it is harder to reach my target group, because of the mass circulation of information available, but, on the other hand, the selection of media platforms is also simultaneously growing.
"We don't think about processes and inner values, when we make our decisions. This phenomenon can specially be recognised in social media networking, which is a good incubator for speed culture."
What are your plans with your womenswear brand going forward?
We are working on circular value creation, to strengthen our vision of sustainable fashion. For the upcoming collections, we will expand on the innovative design, so we are working on wearables to integrate smart textiles into the elegant ready-to-wear line. In this context, we are working on biodegradable 3D designs and smart concepts for communication solutions. Moreover, we want to collaborate with galleries and interdisciplinary institutions to merge art, science and fashion.
Who is the woman your ready-to-wear garments are aimed for?
My label stands for a modern woman, who loves a conscious lifestyle and has a sixth sense for high quality. Not only does she want to wear sustainable fashion – she also lives it. In addition, she is interested in culture and art, so she is travelling and enjoys visiting vernissages and exhibitions at museums. She is the symbol of a very confident and a hard-working woman, who feels comfortable in a leading position and possesses a healthy lifestyle. The „Malina“-woman is the epitome of a modern, liberated woman, who always follows her instinct.