Travel Feature: Germany

Article by Kathrine Holicki

1.       When did you leave SA?
I left SA in the last week of August 2020.

2.       Why Germany?
Coming from an Eastern European heritage, and having most of my family in Germany, I had always wanted to live in Germany once my studies had been completed. I have always had a fascination for Europe as it is filled with culture and traditions that date back centuries. I took this as an opportunity to experience and learn as much of my heritage as possible.

3.       What are your impressions so far of the fashion scene?
WOW! If there is one thing I can definitely say is that there is a definite contrast to the amount (number) of people that follow contemporary fashion trends compared to the number in South Africa. I moved to Bavaria, which is in the southern region of Germany, and I am located close to Munich. Munich is considered one of the most expensive and financially developed cities in Germany, thus, being able to afford to live in Munich means you are able to afford the latest trends and brands.
Following trends, fads, and buying exclusively from high-end/commercial brands is definitely apparent in Munich. Germans are relatively brand loyal and about 60% of the population is willing to buy the same brand, purely because they can afford to do so!
One other highlight that I noticed in Munich is that although a vast majority follow trends, the weather also plays a very important role in the style of the city. In Munich, it tends to be overcast (in the Autumn and Winter months) and thus a lot of darker clothing is worn, the further south you travel in Bayern (Bavaria), the more you will find colour incorporated into winter garments worn by the locals — purely because the weather is consistently sunny, even throughout winter. 

4.       Germany or South Africa? Which do you prefer in terms of style?
Munich, Germany — for sure. Although I find South Africa to be an up-and-coming country, in terms of the cultural influence it has on fashion, as a consumer of commercial brands, I prefer the “look and feel” that I see in the city around me. 

I am an Adidas fan and the brand originated in Herzogenaurach, Bavaria — so naturally, Adidas is a dominating brand here in the south of Germany. Although this does give the city a consumerist look and feel — rather than a high-end fashion capital, I find that it fits the style of the city quite well as it is a state with a high amount of purchasing power in contrast to others.
All-in-all I just prefer the style, the choice in brand availability, and the look and feel of the German fashion scene.

5.       What did you do with your old clothes when you packed to move?
Most of my old clothes are still at home in my cupboard as I plan to go back home. Honestly, I didn’t pack many clothes when moving to Germany, especially because I was moving into winter and South African winter clothing is not catered to European winters.

6.       What were your reflections on how much clothing you owned?
Waaaaaay too much! Although I am relatively good at giving away clothes I no longer use (thanks mom for enforcing this rule), I realized I had endless options to pack which became a little overwhelming.

7.       5 Must fashion or lifestyle places to see before you leave Germany
Munich, Germany (this has been ticked)

  1. Berlin, Germany
  2. Paris, France
  3. Barcelona, Spain
  4. Rome, Italy
  5. Stockholm, Sweden

8.     5 things one should one pack?
Other than the obvious clothes:

  1. Closed shoes
  2. Boots with a grip (Like Chelsea boots)
  3. Scarfs
  4. Jeans
  5. A handbag/Rucksack

9.      What should you not bother packing?
Jackets. Rather buy a jacket that accommodates the European weather.

10.   What is the first thing you bought?
A pair of Adidas Collection Pants. This was clearly the influence of the Munich fashion scene.

11.   How are Germans approaching sustainability?
Sustainability has become the keyword in Germany. One can’t go anywhere, drive anywhere without seeing or hearing the word “Nachhaltigkeit” – which directly translates to “Sustainability”.

The clothing sector in Germany is one of the most important consumer goods industries and Germans buy an average of 12kgs of clothes per year. Since there has been increasing fast-fashion consumption over the years, 332 German brands have now been certified with the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) label, which documents a sustainable production chain. I may stand corrected but these brands include, for example, Adidas, Aldi, and Tchibo. This has started as a trend amongst Consumer brands, but what about the actual consumer? Well, in my experience and to my knowledge, sustainable fashion was practiced mainly in fashion Capitals like Berlin and then quickly became a trend all over Germany. 

Sustainability doesn’t only refer to fashion consumption, in Germany, the trend “Nachhaltigkeit” has influenced almost everything in the everyday life of a German citizen. Germany has the highest recycling rates of any major country in the world and germans are twice as likely as the average European to buy organic food.  

With this being said, and a sustainable production trend amongst brands in the German fashion scene and some of the most eco-conscious shoppers, Germany still remains H&M’s largest market. Although the German consumer spends less than the average consumer on clothes, we are still fast-fashion’s biggest market, with the likes of Zalando, H&M, and Zara steering the consumer’s pocket. 

So, in retrospection, we are moving as a country, both in production and consumerism, in the right direction and the intentions are there, yet we still have a very long way until the battle against fast fashion and high consumer volume has been won.

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