Environmental concern is a concept so ingrained in the German national consciousness that a life without Pfänder, pedantic rubbish separation and bio everything is unthinkable. And yet when it comes to clothing, Germany – and Berlin, in particular – has been a bit slow on the uptake. There are only three stores in the city that sell only eco-friendly and fair trade garments, forcing those who are really dedicated to the cause to order from the internet.
Last August, Sandra König and Patrick Volk, a young couple who identified this gaping hole in the market, opened a boutique to provide Berlin and its visitors with clothing that is ethically produced, friendly to Mother Nature – and actually attractive enough to wear. The boutique is on Reichenberger Straße, a quiet residential street in Kreuzberg 36, and Patrick admits that “80 percent of our customers come to us because they are actively seeking eco-friendly clothes”. Yet the store should be of interest to the trend conscious as well as committed planet-protectors: it stocks an interesting mix of international brands – People Tree, Pants to Poverty – as well as smaller German labels Milch and Fairliebt.
One of the owners is always on hand to talk you through the range of bamboo t-shirts, colourful snoods and jeans. “We are idealists,” says Patrick, who is both well-informed and friendly. “We want people to realise that there is a better alternative to buying mainstream fashion and it doesn’t mean sacrificing style or spending a lot of money.” The couple also produced a dinky book called Berlin isst Bio, on the best eco restaurants in town.