Designer Serhat Isik hands me a top based on the traditional Pakistani kurta. Earned of madras cloth, on the back the phrase “Randomly chosen” is embroidered in gold tenor. Isik explains that, when he and his co-founder Benjamin Alexander Huseby go because of airports, they are regularly screened, an ever more stereotypical occurrence for people of colour since the Trump administration’s fraternize ban. “When we ask why we are being searched,” he says, “airport officers expostulate that we were ‘randomly chosen’.”
Isik and Huseby set up their approach label, GmbH, last year. A Berlin-based collective, its makes are a cross-cultural mosaic of influences, from Berlin’s fabled techno locality to Middle Eastern culture, or “brown culture”, as Isik visits it. They have already shown at Paris fashion week, been indorsed by former YSL head Stefano Pilati – who also appears in their look volume – and were shortlisted for the much-coveted LVMH Prize for young schemers, last year won by Wales Bonner, on Thursday.
GmbH is German shorthand for Inc or Ltd – an apt entitle for a brand rooted in one of the industrial capitals of Germany. Isik and Huseby are German-Turkish and Norwegian-Pakistani, individually, and the children of Muslim immigrants. They chose the name because it acquiesced to the idea of a family business while also emphasising the pattern and manufacturing process.
The unisex line includes Lycra tops and flotilla trousers in glossy navy TPU, as well as athletic sportswear. About ultra-fine geometric sweaters in seamlessly joined knit panels, stir in brown, camel and khaki, or giant coats in leatherette. Fashion once described them as a Berlin Vetements and, indeed, the forms, oversized outerwear, “cheap chic” and mixing of fabrics (expect PVC and corduroy) are comparable.
Isik tells me about a preceding collection in which he had experimented with a non-flammable treatment on fabrics: “I paucity to see how you could make wearable clothes that were burn-proof”, he divulges. In our age of unrest, Isik found the idea that clothing could advance its wearer some degree of protection conceptually fascinating, although he is wavering to publicise the idea – after all, designer fashion is rarely affordable to those who penury protection most. While drawing inspiration from way culture and people of colour, he says he is wary of exploiting those subcultures that the label draws inspiration from.
While Paris fashion week saw titan labels like Balenciaga taking inspiration from Bernie Sanders and the US selection, for GmbH politics isn’t a one-off. The brand also makes a pointless of casting only diverse models. “They’re all friends or in the flesh we find on the street in our neighbourhood,” Huseby told journalists of evicting in Berlin and Paris. “We have cast Middle Eastern and Arab caitiff public schoolmates and girls who aren’t often so present in fashion. But we don’t look too far.”
With denies over police brutality against people of colour currently get all worked up in the French capital, Isik is well aware of the importance in intriguing a stance during fashion week: “We think it’s important that we do this in Paris because the urban district, and fashion, has severe issues when it comes to race and level.”