Berlin is notorious for its clubbing scene – and it’s on the dancefloors of the city’s legendary nightclubs that new menswear brand GmbH was born. It’s here that the label’s founders Serhat Isik and Benjamin Alexander Huseby and their diverse community of collaborators came together. GmbH launched three months ago and the energy of this scene and the attitude of its members is woven into the very fabric of the brand’s garments – into the vests and tight tees, the PVC trousers and the bulky leather jackets.
While Isik has a background in fashion design, Huseby is a photographer who has shot pages for Dazed, AnOther, Another Man and countless publications besides, and describes GmbH as something that has been “simmering away for many years.” Inspired by the multiculturalism of their own backgrounds and that of their community’s, the majority of the pair’s clothes are made from deadstock material sourced from a high-end factory in Milan – in resistance to the overconsumption of today’s fashion industry.
Central to GmbH, though, is the idea of a collective which informs everything from how the brand operates to how they name their garments. Here, Isik and Huseby introduce GmbH, tell us more about their community and how they’re channelling the spirit of Berlin’s nightlife into fashion.
So first off, what does GmbH mean?
Benjamin Alexander Huseby: In German it means a company of financial limited liability, which is the German equivalent to ‘ltd.’ or ‘Inc.’ – the most common standard legal form of any German company. We didn’t really want to use our own names; as we don’t want the main focus to be on us. And it also reflects or design process. GmbH is so neutral it can mean anything and nothing at the same time.
Why is the idea of a collective important to you?
Benjamin: It’s very important to us that our work reflects our community and our everyday lives. That’s why also the name (of the brand) isn’t our names. It’s about creating a sense of family...
What kind of family?
Serhat Isik: A very diverse one! Everyone’s adopted, everyone’s allowed to be different...
Benjamin Alexander Huseby: In the gay community, it’s very important that you create your own family because your life doesn’t fit into traditional family structures. Also, in Berlin people come from all kind of places, and are far away from their original families… We’ve met most of our family through the techno scene here in Berlin, from going out, music and parties.
What inspires your brand?
Benjamin Alexander Huseby: Well it’s very much from living in Berlin. And our varied origins too – Serhat’s Turkish-German and I’m Norwegian-Pakistani so we have this mix of Muslim, Middle Eastern, German, Scandinavian origins which I think is somewhat unique. It’s hard to be specific about how, but it definitely plays into specific garments that connect to certain things in our lives.
Serhat Isik: It’s not just us, but everyone who’s involved has a different background. It sort of comes together in the techno scene, which is very deeply rooted in Berlin and also GmbH.
Benjamin Alexander Huseby: I think the approach that we’re working with comes very much from the specific context of this city. Young people dress quite differently here, and approach fashion in a less commercial way, different to London or Paris.
“We want to make wardrobe essentials... And PVC trousers are of course a wardrobe essential for anyone...” Benjamin Huseby and Serhat Isik
How would you describe how they dress to someone who hasn’t been to Berlin?
Benjamin Alexander Huseby: I feel like all our friends are very individual. It’s definitely much more about an attitude than say about one particular style.
Serhat Isik: Yeah, it’s very hard to spot trends here, I always say for me Berlin doesn’t seem trendy at least not how the individual people here dress, but I also think it’s very functional somehow.
Are there any specific people who’ve inspired your designs or embody what you’re trying to do?
Benjamin Alexander Huseby: All the friends that we shoot wearing our clothes. I don’t think there’s one specific person.
Serhat Isik: It’s also really funny because during the process in our studio when we’re making pieces we’re like ‘this is very Benjamin’ ‘this is very this and that’ – it’s almost like our friends are having an influence on it. Sometimes we name pieces after them.
Who are they and what were you looking for in terms of the models?
Benjamin Alexander Huseby: They’re all friends or people we find on the street in our neighbourhood. We have cast Middle Eastern and Arab boys and girls who aren’t often so present in fashion. But we don’t look too far, we want a sense of intimacy.
What do you think about fast fashion and how your label is differing from that?
Benjamin Alexander Huseby: Well, we’re surrounded by so much shit and everyone’s trying to make us buy more and more things that we don’t really need. So we take this into consideration, why – why make more clothes?
Serhat Isik: Our approach to designing is rather focusing on each garment , ,as standard products that it feels like you have always owned . We source the materials from deadstock .and work with what’s there already.
How did you start using deadstock materials?
Benjamin Alexander Huseby: We went into a very high-end factory in Milan and we realised we couldn’t afford anything from the current collection. But they said ‘hey, we have rolls and rolls of deadstock that are just there, nobody’s using them’. It was super exciting and we found so much interesting stuff, it was like somehow snooping in the debris of fashion or being a witness of this crazy overproduction of fashion. At first it came out of necessity but then it became a method. I think the idea of sustainable fashion has always been an interesting one - never a sexy one – you immediately think of unbleached hemp. Using deadstock gave us this really great opportunity to work with amazing materials. It also means that in the end our clothes are going to be more affordable
So what kind of materials have you found?
Benjamin Alexander Huseby: Technical fabrics, velvet, PVC. I wouldn’t say we’ve just gone for one specific…
Serhat Isik: We want to make, as we said, wardrobe essentials...
Benjamin Alexander Huseby: And PVC trousers are of course a wardrobe essential for anyone...
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