“Berlin has taken me to its heart the way I am.”
Reduced cuts, graphic prints, a pinch of avant-garde and a touch of art: since 2009 Dawid Tomaszewski has been designing fashion from Berlin for women who love the eclectic. In the German capital, after ten years with his own label, he is already considered a veteran and expert on the local fashion scene, but he is continuing to develop consistently. We talked to the designer and FCG member about the status quo of Berlin as a fashion location, international farsightedness and new old retail ideas.
Mr. Tomaszewski, you studied fashion design at the Berlin University of the Arts – under Vivenne Westwood, a designer who is known today for her green commitment like no other. Did that shape you?
Well, unfortunately, the aspect of sustainability and green commitment was not yet represented in the fashion industry at the time. Vivienne, like all designers, also used fur in her collections and liked to wear it herself. Only in recent years has sustainability gained enormously in importance – and quite rightly so!
Why is sustainability so important in fashion at the moment?
The fashion industry is the second dirtiest industry in the world. Slowly they are trying to change that. Of course, this rethinking also presents designers with new challenges: I used to use materials that I liked without thinking about their origin or the environment. Today, every fashion designer is faced with the task of creating a product that works in the long term, but also keeps an eye on the entire value chain from sourcing to the end consumer.
In 2009 you went into business for yourself, having previously gained experience in London, Paris, Tokyo and the USA. Many young designers are now doing things differently, preferring to set up their own label right after graduating. What do you think?
First of all: everyone goes the way they want to go. You can’t usually dictate anything to young artists, they don’t like to be taught either, I notice that with my young interns. However, I can only recommend everyone to gain experience in an international fashion company before founding their own label. And especially the economic aspect of founding a company should not be underestimated. Creativity isn’t everything – creating a business plan and developing an innovative product that stands out from the crowd is the key to success. I myself went from a designer to an entrepreneur.
Why did you decide to go to Berlin after the international fashion scene?
Berlin had already appealed to me 20 years ago, because there was an attractive and unique energy in the city that inspired me as a young designer. These were exciting times! Berlin is also very diverse as a location and meets my personal needs at all levels – Berlin has taken me as close to my heart as I am.
Back then, the fashion scene and Berlin Fashion Week were still quite young and a lot of things were in a state of upheaval. How do you feel about that today, ten years later?
The realistic assessment of the market and the fashion location doesn’t look very rosy and is unfortunately not internationally competitive. Due to the existing trade fair data in Berlin, which are not geared to the international market, the location cannot establish itself. There is a lack of international customers – and without them there is no business. I myself am thinking very carefully for the next winter season whether it is still worthwhile for my brand to invest in Berlin Fashion Week. Or whether it’s not more profitable to fish on international waters.
What do you think should change?
The market and above all the trade fairs have to adapt their data to the international calendar in order to rebuild competitiveness. German fashion brands, too, must collectively seek exchange among themselves in order to jointly find a solution that will make the Berlin fashion market attractive again for international guests in the long term. This is why I am a member of the Fashion Council Germany – to show initiative and to seek exchange with my colleagues.
Many designers in Germany find it difficult to monetize creative ideas.
Many products are interchangeable and cannot hold their own against the big players. Most buyers build up a product range of primarily internationally known brands. To refresh your store, they often include brands that fulfil the avant-garde aspect. This is a risky business, which is also reflected in the purchase volume. Buyers are currently under a lot of pressure and are therefore playing it safe.
Why is art in and from Berlin doing better in terms of international competition?
The art market is a good example, since it is oriented towards international markets and the players agree among themselves. The gallery owners have created a close and worldwide network that speaks to each other. This is missing in the fashion industry and especially in Berlin.
Apropos: Apart from fashion design, you yourself have also studied art.
I love photography and art! The impressions I derive from it ultimately fit together in my fashion. And then it depends on an innovative development of the silhouettes. I play with colours or a print, cut up fabrics, put them back together again – that’s a process you also know from art.
Let’s talk about another cultural medium – do you still have a television at home?
Yes, I own such a device and prefer to watch Trash TV. I like the Kardashians!
We also see them on television: At the last Berlin Fashion Week you presented the first DAWID by Dawid Tomaszewski collection for the teleshopping channel QVC. It was launched at the beginning of September. How did it come about?
Two years ago QVC invited me to the VOGUE Fashion’s Night Out in Düsseldorf. I got to know the QVC team and could very well imagine a collaboration. But it was clear to me: If I do that, then I have to do it well. And for that I need enough time and strength. That time has come – and with the chance that QVC has given me, I am realizing a dream that I had 20 years ago when I lived in the USA.
Tele-shopping is not something that has been associated with Berlin fashion so far.
The project with QVC is a cooperation independent of the DAWID TOMASZEWSKI brand, for which a specially developed collection was produced. The collection DAWID by is placed in the commercial market and thus appeals to a completely different customer and target group than our high-end label DAWID TOMASZEWSKI. So I can inspire every woman with my fashion by expanding my target group.
What can the customer expect from DAWID by Dawid Tomaszewski?
For my luxury label, I let myself be strongly influenced by art and architecture and therefore rely on graphic, often large prints for reduced cuts. For QVC I also mix geometric and flowery shapes. This offers me many new design possibilities and I like these playful shapes very much. We develop all our prints exclusively in our studio in Berlin, of which I am very proud. And I am sure that our customer loves these designs and that they will give her a lot of pleasure in everyday life.
In 2019 you will celebrate ten years of Dawid Tomaszewski. What is your summary – and your outlook for the next ten years?
After ten years of hard work, I have not yet reached my goal. I want to grow with my employees and the company, especially on the international market I still see potential for growth with my brand DAWID TOMASZEWSKI.