New Shores – New Styles: German-Israeli Fashion Exchange “Biomimetics”

Fashion is a key to different people, times and cultures. One important current question is what a form of sustainable fashion might look like that draws on construction and functional principles from nature and combines these with technology. The goal is to create clothing that doesn’t just look good and makes a general fashion statement but is also perfectly suited to particular climatic conditions and cultural requirements. Although the former could hardly be more different in Germany and Israel, the latter – the question of what’s “in” – may well be broadly similar in the two countries even allowing for certain local idiosyncrasies. 

A group of fashion design students at the ESMOD BERLIN International University of Art for Fashion and their counterparts at the Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art in Tel Aviv are discussing whether this is the case and how it might be implemented in fashion design before putting these ideas into practice. They receive support from their lecturers in the process as well as during the intensive work meetings between the two groups in Germany and Israel, where joint research and work on individual designs form the focus of attention.

Exchange and debate also continue between meetings via blogs, social media and Skype to foster mutual inspiration and an understanding of the respective other socio-cultural context alongside more academic discussions. A jury then selects the 30-35 best final designs. By the end, a set of fully finished outfits akin to a proper collection are in place, which the students then present at the Berlin Dayz in Tel Aviv and the Berlin Fashion Week. It is not merely fashion that is put on show there, but rather the results of sustained intercultural debate on some of the major themes of our time: sustainability and the environment, identity and background, familiarity and difference. For fashion is about far more than just hipness. 

“New Shores – New Styles” is a project organised by the ESMOD BERLIN International University of Art for Fashion in collaboration with the Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art in Tel Aviv. Over the course of the project, which takes place between May 1, 2013 and February 1, 2014, a total of 70 students from both universities develop designs on the subject of biomimetics. A jury then selects 15-20 designs by the German students and 15 by the Israeli students, which the two groups then jointly implement and put together. Working meetings in Berlin and Tel Aviv form a part of the project, as do presentations of the finished designs at the Berlin Dayz in Tel Aviv in November 2013 as well as during Berlin Fashion Week in January 2014.