Together with The Prince’s Foundation and Swarovski, the Fashion Council Germany initiated the “GERMAN SCOTTISH SUSTAIN WORKSHOPS & PANEL TALKS” in the Scottish Dumfries House from September 10th to 12th, to which the German German Sustain Concept (GSC) participants Lara Krude, Oft, Phylyda and Working Title were invited in addition to Scottish designers. The three-day programme of panels, workshops and factory visits is intended to promote both the designers and the bilateral exchange and to continue the discourse on sustainability in fashion.

Since its foundation in 2015, the Fashion Council Germany has been committed to the promotion and visualisation of German design at home and abroad. The support of young talents in particular, the urgent focus on aspects of sustainability as well as the expansion and cultivation of bilateral relationships towards a strong international network in the fashion industry have been core motivations of the lobbying work from the very beginning – with the latest project, all strands flow together.

Built in the 18th century, Dumfries House was secured for the nation by the Prince of Wales in 2007. With the conference “GERMAN SCOTTISH SUSTAIN WORKSHOPS & PANEL TALKS” a three-day program waited out
Workshops, expert lectures, panel talks, network events and the visit of Scottish manufactories to the German delegation as well as a selection of Scottish labels. The joint initiative of the FCG and The Prince’s Foundation, founded by Prince Charles, aims to strengthen German-Scottish synergies as well as to continue discourses on sustainability in fashion.
“Sustainability is the focus of our actions, which is why we are proud to host this project at Dumfries House together with the Fashion Council Germany”. (Ashleigh Douglas, The Prince’s Foundation)

Ashleigh Douglas leads the royal foundation’s “Future Textiles” training initiative, established in 2015, and continues: “At The Prince’s Foundation, we want to help the industry by inspiring people of all ages to pursue careers in the textile industry by providing them with expert training and industry connections.

The Prince’s Foundation, created in April from the merger of the Dumfries House Trust and other charities, is headquartered in Dumfries House and is now the region’s second largest employer with more than 250 employees. It is therefore the ideal bilateral ally of the FCG for a Scottish-German exchange. Particularly with regard to the 24-month support programme German Sustain Concept launched at the beginning of 2019, which together with its partners Bikini Berlin, BurdaStyle and Neonyt supports the four sustainable participant brands in the disciplines of sourcing, distribution, marketing and business in establishing themselves on the market in the long term – and at the same time aims to create awareness for a sustainable lifestyle. After all, sustainability is no longer an option.

The project is therefore also supported by Swarovski.
“Swarovski is tirelessly active in promoting talent, for example through scholarships, crystal sponsoring and the dissemination of our know-how. Accordingly, the Dumfries House is also a highly valued platform for promoting young talent.” (Nadja Swarovski)

She is particularly interested in supporting young labels that focus on sustainability: “Design can drive sustainable development and cultural change, and we look forward to promoting the intelligent use of existing resources through this cooperation.”In this respect, the programme in the historic Dumfries House, which today serves as a tourist attraction and training centre and has even housed the LVMH textile training centre in the former sawmill of the estate since 2018, is often a real highlight for Antonia Goy and Björn Kubeja from Working Title, Lara Krude, Lydia Maurer from Phylyda and Ashley Marc Hovelle from the two-year programme of the German Sustain Concept – especially since the conference was accompanied by none other than HRH Prince Charles.

In order to learn more about the German fashion and textile market, its sustainable challenges and especially new technological developments, Prince Charles invited the German representatives of the industry to the “Royal Reception”: the special event of a private reception. The exchange was also supported by the German side through the presence of the press and supporters, in particular through the commitment of the FCG board members, Vogue editor-in-chief Christiane Arp and ICON editor-in-chief Inga Griese, both of whom actively participated in the programme as part of Panel Talks. In addition, ICON had already held a fashion shoot with the Fashion Sustain Concept Brands in cooperation with Swarovski real in the run-up to the conference.

The designers themselves greatly appreciate the support of the Fashion Council Germany as well as the invitation to Scotland. Phylyda designer Lydia Maurer says: “I find the cooperation of organisations like FCG with industry giants like Swarovski, Vogue and ICON particularly relevant today. We need to share our ideas and experiences and break down the insularity of the different stakeholders in fashion in order to introduce and implement meaningful changes”.

For Björn Kubeja and Antonia Goy of Working Title, the network aspect of the conference is particularly relevant: “For us as a young brand, the exchange with others is very important. It opens up new perspectives and helps us to examine and improve our own orientation. We are hoping for interesting new contacts and workshops that will also help us to make progress in terms of content”. Both labels are particularly looking forward to participating in the panel talk “Start your own fashion brand” with the renowned fashion journalist Sarah Mower.

At most of the workshops and panel talks with top-class industry experts, the topic of sustainability will naturally be at the centre of the three-day programme, for example at events on natural dyeing methods or fashion and clean oceans. Apart from Swarovski’s commitment to offering an up-cycling workshop in which Swarovski crystals that have been discarded are made available to the designers so that they “actively participate in a regenerative recycling economy”, says Nadja Swarovski, the traditional Scottish labels Harris Tweed Hebrides and Johnstons of Elgin in particular also support the “FCG goes Scotland” initiative. They also open the doors to their manufactories. Designer Lara Krude is particularly pleased about this: “I work a lot with fabrics that come from men’s clothing and I am very happy to get to know these companies.”

Scotland in particular is known for its fabrics from traditional weaving mills, including high-quality cashmere and the famous Harris tweed, with customers in around 150 countries worldwide, including leading houses such as Yves Saint Laurent, Hermès and Gucci. Germany is one of the most important export markets, says Margaret Macleod, Sales Director at Harris Tweed Hebrides. She says: “We are pleased to support the cooperation with the Fashion Council Germany. (…) At a time when we need to keep reinvigorating and promoting the Scottish textile industry and contribute to preserving and improving the know-how that has declined over the last decades, events like these are important to raise awareness of the diversity of opportunities that exist in the Scottish textile industry”.

The promotion of the traditional local textile industry will keep both island villages and traditional cultural skills alive and secure jobs, especially in rural areas. “When we hear heritage, we often think of old-fashioned – but our products are high quality and exported worldwide,” says Simon Cotton, Chief Executive of Johnstons of Elgin. As in Germany, interest in sustainable issues is deeply rooted in Scotland – one more reason for transnational exchange. “I think that’s one reason why the Scottish textile industry is flourishing right now: People want to know that the products they buy are made with environmentally friendly, sustainable processes,” says Cotton. And young labels in particular can learn a lot from these traditional companies.
The trip has another positive side effect: none of the German designers has been to Scotland before. “GSC goes Dumfries House” will be a three-day programme full of premieres.