Last night, a crowd gathered deep in the heart of London’s 180 Strand, the half-deserted 1960s office building that, having played host to everything from Virgil Abloh DJ sets to New Museum art shows, has become one of the city’s most dynamic cultural hotbeds. They stood around a sheet of construction-site plastic which hung like a curtain, marking out an enormous circle in the otherwise stripped-back, empty space. This was the setting for an off-schedule runway show by Berlin magazine-slash-fashion force 032c, which, over the last year, has transitioned from selling its branded t-shirts and socks online to becoming a fully-fledged ‘Apparel’ label, having showed its first collection at Pitti in January.
Yesterday saw the debut of its first women’s ready-to-wear collection – presented alongside the existing workwear-inspired men's line. The show kicked off when the lights began to flash and the sound of German post-punk band Fehlfarben thundered through the space, followed by an unreleased track by Berghain resident DJ Kobosil. The collection that emerged was, according to designer Maria Koch, who co-creative directed the event with husband (and 032c mag editor in chief) Joerg Koch, inspired by her youth clubbing in Berlin.
“I was a rave kid, a real rave kid,” she said backstage afterwards. “When I was into rave culture, you had the feeling that this was really something, that you were part of a community, that it was a special moment,”. The collection was prompted by her considering what she could gap she could fill in the amorphous, “everything and nothing” world of streetwear. “It’s nothing to do with the 90s in the way they are everywhere now – it’s more autobiographical.”
While the utilitarian menswear more explicitly channelled the rave inspiration through pastel tie-dye tees and bungee toggle parachute pants, the womenswear was less literal. Styled by the magazine’s own Marc Goehring, models walked in sheer, tit-flashing tops decorated with sequins, and trousers accessorised with bondage straps. There were also references to armour and thigh-high hardcore leather boots with soles made for stomping. “It’s the idea of when you’re going out and you know it’s going to be a wild night,” Koch surmised. In other words, expect to catch a glimpse of these clothes on a dancefloor near you soon.