"Nature is incredibly clever, much cleverer than people. Even if many do not see it that way. We as human beings are part of nature but we behave as if we are separate from it." Says Julia Hermesmeyer, who started her brand DZAINO together with her life long friend Hanna Sin Gebauer.
Imagine a brand whose material transportation is done by bicycle. From a global perspective this may sound utopic but for a local brand in Berlin, whose products are mostly upcycled from jeans, this is reality.
The Clothing Lounge: Can you please tell us about, how your path reached to fashion and how you decided to be in the green side of fashion?
Julia Hermesmeyer: I am a trained seamstress, which is my first connection with fashion and textiles.
I worked in a small company that produced locally, which influenced me to decide to do the same in my own label. The decision to start an upcycling label came in collaboration with Hanna Sin Gebauer, a long-time friend.
We worked with used materials from the beginning and finally wanted products (especially made out of jeans) that did not look like upcycling. And for us it was clear that we wanted to act responsibly without harming people and nature.
TCL: You say you love riding your Tokyobikes? Cycling is maybe the key word. Before talking about upcycling or recycling, we wish to hear what is nature for you? What you see in nature? What you learn from nature?
JH: For me nature is the basis for life. Nature is incredibly clever, much cleverer than people. Even if many do not see it that way. We as human beings are part of nature but we behave as if we are separate from it. Again and again nature manages to balance or renew things that we as humans destroy. But of course this does not always go on as we see it.
TCL: DZAINO, a Berlin based upcycling label for bags and accessories, you describe. What were your motivations in starting up your label? What differences you wish to make in fashion?
JH: As I mentioned before, in the beginning it was only about making products out of used materials without you seeing immediately or at all that they are used materials. Little by little our passion became a company until we decided to work only for it. With this decision it was clear to us that with DZAINO we not only produce products, but that we stand for sustainable fashion production and want to reach people to think about how they consume. Of course a company is about being economical, but it is also about being transparent, fair and sustainable and it needs more companies to do this.
TCL: Can you please tell about, how you create your supply chain for your product range made by upcycling textile wastes? What are your main challenges?
JH: Our supply and production chain takes place exclusively in Berlin. We purchase the textiles from the Stadtmission Berlin which offers special cooperations for Upcycling Designers.
We cooperate with workshops for people with disabilities, which prepare and also produce the materials for us. In addition, we work with a freelance tailor and special individual pieces are created in our studio. All transportation is done by bicycle courier.
The biggest challenge is the scaling and which dimensions the company should therefore take on. On the other hand, we cannot offer the prices. e.g. for larger orders that companies are used to when they buy non-sustainable goods normally produced from abroad.
TCL: Longevity is maybe the main necessity of a real sustainable product. How can you ensure that an upcycled product will last for a long life time?
JH: We normally produce from jeans without spandex/stretch. These materials are already very robust and durable. To make sure that the bags last a long time we produce very high quality. We also offer to repair the bags if they should break.
TCL: How are the reactions of consumers to your upcycled products? How will you rate the awareness of consumers to sustainability in fashion? What are the main drives of consumers in their choices when they are buying?
JH: People react very positively to our products. For us, the design standard is very important and we perceive that this is exactly what our customers appreciate about us. We produce high quality bags with a minimalist look from used materials that do not look like upcycling at first sight. It could also be described as a niche market as Upcycling is still very much associated with the do-it-yourself sector.
I believe that more and more people understand what it means to buy clothes that are not sustainably produced. That the debate on the consumption topic is basically getting bigger. This doesn't mean that people are consuming directly or exclusively in a sustainable way, because it is a longer process, but is it really more about the fact that many people don't do everything 100% right than that one person does everything 100% right.
TCL: You say you focus on a minimalistic use of form in your designs. Can you please tell us more about minimalism in your designs and as a way of living life?
JH: Minimalism, in my opinion, stands for not becoming too ornamental. Jeans is such a beautiful fabric with different facets like structure, weave or colour. To bring them together in a harmonious and clear way fascinates me. The material itself brings everything with it, there is no need for ornaments or frills.
Even the cuts are simple and clear.
Minimalism in terms of consumption and in everyday life means for me that I try not to buy things I don't really need and if I do buy something, that it is second hand or sustainably produced.
I am not a person who only has two pairs of trousers and three jumpers but I use the things I own for a long time or exchange them.
TLC: We are living another milestones in the history, the pandemic. Most say this pandemic will make sustainability the heart of the new normal. Do you agree? What sort of awareness this pandemic created? Do you believe it is strong enough to change the behaviours of billions who have tendency to buy the cheaper options with blind eyes to true costs?
JH: I believe that this situation with the pandemic is an opportunity that we can seize and we are already doing so. It is becoming more and more obvious and we experience first hand what globalization means. Our luxury demand for goods that are always available and the disregard for human rights and the destruction of nature is also a product of globalization. The pandemic has revealed many more structures. On the one hand, it makes people here think more about how they want to consume or live, and on the other hand, companies are increasingly forced to deal with their production conditions.
However, I must also say that it is frightening how many people, despite everything, continue not to see what they are doing with their behaviour. Where we actually come back to the second question. Nature - our earth - exists only once and it must be preserved and not destroyed.
A week ago DZAINO started a new campaign.
Care about the planet? So do we. #CarryYourCares and carry DZAINO. For more information please visit the link below.