Natascha von Hirschhausen on locally acting & globally networked fashion

In dialogue with Natascha von Hirschhausen, founder of the eponymous fashion label and the designer network Aethic - a pioneer of the German fashion world.

Natasha of Hirschhausen
Natasha von Hirschhausen, © Kerstin Jacobsen, 2018

With her fashion label, Natascha von Hirschhausen proves a radically well thought-out ecological-social philosophy. Awarded the Federal Ecodesign Award and nominated for the German Design Award, the designer sets new standards for sustainable fashion. With her designer Netzwerk Aethic, she also initiates a transformation of the role of sustainable fashion design in the economy.

How would you describe your fashion label in one sentence?

Natascha von Hirschhausen stands for relaxed, elegant and versatile fashion in which every woman feels strong and comfortable and which is radically sustainable at the same time.

Natasha of Hirschhausen

Source: Natascha von Hirschhausen, © Kerstin Jacobsen, 2018
What motivated you to start your fashion label?

Since the beginning of my studies I have been employed on sustainability. However, I was never sure if it could even be sustainable to produce another collection for our full market.

The desire to found my own label came much later, during my master's degree at the Kunsthochschule Berlin Weißensee, when I traveled to Bangladesh. What I saw there deeply affected me. This journey has convinced me that the market needs a radically sustainable collection. From the beginning, I wanted to use the label to test out and expand the possibilities and limits of sustainable fashion design.

In addition to all other often untenable conditions in Bangladesh, the garbage problem especially affected me. Until then, I had no concrete idea of ​​the masses of textile waste in the production of conventional fashion. I wanted to end this waste of valuable resources.

In the course of this I came across recycling and upcycling techniques for textile blends - honorable approaches. However, this does not change the system of fashion production and that was my stated goal. That's why I invented my own editing system that minimizes the waste from an average of about 20% in the conventional industry to significantly less than 1%.

Back in Germany, I started with the claim of zero-waste design and started with the most difficult garment that I could imagine: the suit. So I wanted to test if my vision was even feasible. Only when I had minimized the blend for the entire collection to below 1% and had thought out and designed everything from the laundry label to packaging sustainably, I founded my label Natascha von Hirschhausen.

What is the biggest challenge of a zero-waste collection and what role does the circular economy play?

The biggest challenge with zero-waste design is the cutting development, which requires a fundamentally new design process. Since no remainder should remain, one must nest all cut parts into each other. If you then want to lay a seam, the entire garment changes. In addition, it is harder to grade the garments, that is, to be able to offer in different sizes.

Of course, it is important and correct to close cycles as well as possible. However, this also has its limits in fashion because, for example, natural fibers can not be recycled, they can only be down-cycled. That is another reason why I am an advocate of the transformation economy. We need to be more aware of how fast and how much we produce and consume. First and foremost, we need fewer, but better, longer lasting products.

In this sense, I hope for each of my garments that it will not return to the cycle for a long time. So my focus is on durability and quality. The purely natural fibers from which I make my garments are biodegradable at the end of their hopefully long life.

natasha from deer house

Source: Natascha von Hirschhausen, © Kerstin Jacobsen, 2018
How do you see the development of the fashion industry in Germany especially in the field of sustainable fashion?

Especially and perhaps only in the sustainable area, I find the development of fashion in Germany beautiful and exciting. I experience active networks between designers, journalists and bloggers, who band together to bring sustainable fashion to the fore and forwards and support each other honestly and openly.

A good example for Sustainable Fashion in Germany is the NEONYT for me - this development is simply fun, innovative and forward-looking. The merger of FashionTech and FashionSustain into a conference within the framework of the fair offers many of the fashion industry a platform in the field of sustainability in order to get to know each other and to exchange ideas.

What does your fashion network Aethic stand for and what do you want to achieve with it?

Aethic stands for a family network between sustainable designers. Together, we want to strengthen the role of sustainable fashion design in the economy - through mutual support.

It is often women who set themselves up in the field of sustainable and social entrepreneurship and thus take a high risk. We believe that our economy needs these women in leadership positions and we hope to be able to make our contribution to the market.

What is luxury for you?

When it comes to clothing, to me, luxury means wearing only high quality, natural materials like cotton, cashmere, wool and silk. In addition, I have to feel comfortable, that is, the parts must be comfortable (what an inane word), versatile and elegant.

Luxury does not mean a lot of clothes to me. I experience an overly crowded wardrobe more as a burden. I pay more attention to special pieces that have a personal meaning for me.

To what extent is your personal style reflected in your design?

I find myself in XNUMX% of my designs and wear them every day.

The simple and relaxed elegance of my designs puts the woman who wears them into the focus. Thanks to the versatility of each design, the pieces have a pleasant sensation of skin and body - from morning to evening. I want to make everyday life easier for my customers and make every woman feel even stronger.

What are your 3 tips for a sustainable wardrobe?

1. When shopping, then:
- independent, thoroughly sustainable companies or
- second hand

2. In fact:
- natural materials and good workmanship
- simple favorite pieces

3. And in general:
Own less and become less obsessed.

What would you advise a fashion addict?

That implies that I have a "suggestion for improvement" - that's not the case. I respect people as they are and do not want to judge rashly. I would be glad to invite you to a coffee in my studio and share our views on fashion - maybe we can learn something from each other.

How do you imagine the fashion world in 2050?

In a dystopian scenario, the oligarchic neo-liberalism prevails until then, and few large corporations determine politics and the market, while smaller companies perish. But I fight for my utopia, in which there is no more fast fashion, but only sustainable, locally acting, but globally networked fashion labels.

Natasha of Hirschhausen

Source: Natascha von Hirschhausen, © Kerstin Jacobsen, 2018

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