A spectre is haunting Prenzlauer Berg designer clothing outlets: communism. Schivelbeiner measures a scant 20m2 and stays open for barely half the week, but what it lacks in size and availability, it makes up for in revolutionary ambition. For it’s not only a slightly anaemic mixture of Kneipe and Teehaus; Schivelbeiner is also the new retail home of the world’s first apparently-socialist designer clothing brand, OCA.
The founders, Lisa and Iain Ross (from Bavaria and Scotland, respectively), wouldn’t really fit in with the crust punks one normally associates with leftist activism in Berlin – they are soft-spoken and polite, conservatively dressed.
They opened Schivelbeiner in May after six months of painting, sewing and fomenting. Lisa’s hand-painted faux-wallpaper patterns march rigidly across the wall until suddenly dissolving into noodly civil war near the back corners.
In what might be called the ‘Teach-A- Man-To-Fish Business Plan’, Lisa and Iain are selling kits, not clothes. With OCA, Lisa and Iain intend to smash the branded establishment and encourage consumers to seize the means of production.
The kits sell for the (decidedly un-proletariat-friendly) sum of around €100 and come with everything you need to make your own garment: fabric, needles, thread, plans and even a label tag certifying its authenticity. More adventurous/broke comrades can opt to buy the plans without the materials for around €15, and shameless bourgeois pigs can buy the finished clothing with price tags ranging upwards of €300.
If you’re politically confused, well, you can just have a Beck’s.