JURY INTERVIEW MANUEL ALMEIDA VERGARA
Manuel Almeida Vergara studied fashion journalism at the Akademie Mode & Design Berlin for his Bachelor's degree and cultural journalism at the Universität der Künste Berlin for his Master's degree. During this time, he worked as a trainee for the fashion section of the Tagesspiegel and from 2016 for four and a half years as an editor in the Panorama section of the Frankfurter Rundschau. Since 2021 he’s employed at the Berliner Zeitung, first as style editor, now as head of fashion and style department. He writes freelance for various Burda formats and for magazines such as Stilwerk. In addition, he‘s regularly active as a guest and presenter on panels for Premium, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main and Berlin Fashion Week.
How has the Berlin fashion scene developed since you started writing about fashion and where is it heading?
I would say that the fashion scene in Berlin has developed in very different ways. Some brands that started in the early 2000s and therefore shaped the scene early on, have professionalized. Lala Berlin, for example, or Kaviar Gauche. Other brands such as Perret Schaad or Achtland have had to give up. Therefore, I think it's always worthwhile to look at individual success stories and not just at the scene as a whole. This gives you a better feeling for the fact that in Berlin, as in any other city, success is just as possible as failure. Often the focus is on the latter stories, which leads to them being associated with Berlin as a location and that doesn't always have to be the case. With this in mind, it is also worth taking a closer look at brands such as Liebeskind, Trippen or Zalando: Because they are more part of the mainstream, they are often omitted from many contexts, yet they are also - extremely successful - parts of the Berlin fashion scene. It is also interesting that exciting new labels such as GmbH, Ottolinger and, most recently, Sia Arnika have emerged in the last years, which are also attracting a lot of international attention and are definitely associated with Berlin.
Which Berlin designers or labels have particularly stood out in recent years?
On the one hand, there are designers who have been working in Berlin for a long time, but who I still consider to be very progressive - not only in terms of the product, but also in the way they work and sell. William Fan, for example, who works explicitly with private customers. As well as Odély Teboul, who I would also like to highlight for her incredible craftsmanship. Anne Bernecker, who is still quite new in the scene, also has an interesting approach with unique hand-embroidered items that she sells to private customers. I think that‘s very modern: Thinking smaller, not chasing the big international success and acting naturally sustainable in this way. In my opinion, there is nothing less contemporary than the "bigger, further, faster" premises that have shaped - and to a large extent destroyed - the past decades of fashion.
What are you most looking forward to at the next Berlin Fashion Week?
As always, I am most looking forward to the exchange with other actors from the industry. For me, the Fashion Week is especially a good networking event. And of course there are many shows that I'm excited about. Whether those by William Fan or Odély Teboul with her brand Lou de Bètoly - both of which I think are great, as I mentioned earlier. Or Olivia Ballard and Sia Arnika, who have shown themselves to be very promising young talents in recent seasons. I'm also excited about Kitschy Couture by young designer Abarna Kugathasan particularly.
What are your favorite spots in Berlin to shop/explore fashion?
In Berlin as well, fashion happens on the street, so to speak. In great neighborhoods, such as Potsdamer Straße or Kantstraße, in trendy restaurants like Pars, Remi or Ryotei. Walking through the city with open eyes remains the most important discipline for me as a journalist. Looking on stores in particular, Andreas Murkudis continues to be a lonely leader for me. And: I will always love KaDeWe.