Sustainable fashion: Five German brands aiming to make your wardrobe eco-friendly

We're all trying to do our bit to cut down on waste. But what about fashion? Laura McDermott takes a look at some sustainable brands in Germany aiming to tackle fast fashion.

Sustainable fashion: Five German brands aiming to make your wardrobe eco-friendly
The Berlin-based brand HUNDHUND. Photo: Ewan Waddell, HUNDHUND.

Research by Eurostat has found that a standard German produces 633kg of waste a year: that’s almost 200kg higher than the EU-wide average of 487kg per citizen.

Meanwhile, one Greenpeace survey found that German’s have 5.2 billion pieces of clothing stashed away in their wardrobes; 40 percent of which is never worn with Greenpeace claiming that most unused items are thrown away.

With the growing culture of consumerism in the west, fast fashion is an issue that is becoming an exceedingly serious problem, and has been named the world’s ‘second largest polluter’.  

READ ALSO: Germans 'waste valuable clothes': Greenpeace

However, do not despair– not all is lost for the world of fashion. Many companies have both been founded upon or shifted their stance on the benefits of sustainable fashion, producing garments through socially responsible labour practices from sustainably sourced fabrics. 

Here are five German-based brands doing their bit to tackle the issue of fast fashion. 

1. UlStO, Dresden-Neustadt





Let’s bring some brightness into autumn season!

A post shared by UlStO (@ulsto.bags) on Nov 14, 2019 at 9:03am PST

UlStO is a vegan brand striving for three key components in their garments: durability, sustainability and fairness to people and nature. Situated in Dresden’s hip Neustadt district, the main product sold by the label is their range of backpacks which incorporate cork; however they also sell accessories. As a natural material, each piece of cork has a unique look whilst being extremely durable.

UlStO produce their items locally, in Dresden and Saxony with the textiles sourced in a region known for its long textile tradition, the Erzgebirge – less than an hour away from the office. UlStO are not only producing sustainable pieces, but they are also economically supporting the local community.

The cords and zippers are produced in Germany, the recycled PET felt from Italy, and the cork from Portugal.

2. HUNDHUND, Berlin





Hello Weekend! .

A post shared by HUND HUND (@hundvonhund) on Jan 11, 2020 at 12:24am PST

For the Berlin based brand HUNDHUND, it is all about transparency. They state ‘transparency empowers us all to make more informed buying decisions.’

This comes in the form of breaking down the costs of every single garment they design and manufacture, so the consumer knows exactly what it is their money is going towards.

HUNDHUND maintains a local production base within the capital to cut down on emissions from transport.

Through cutting costs by removing the middle-man, skipping physical retail and offering their products at an identical rate to the wholesale price, the brand have an increased level of expenditure to put towards other elements of the production process, such as a higher quality of material.

READ ALSO: Recycled fashion: Refugee boats find second life as bags in Berlin

They also strive to design their pieces in a way that lies outside of contemporary trends, making garments timeless. As a result there is a lower chance of people throwing them away.

3. Pinqponq, Cologne





Rüdiger wears the Brik and Dania the Blok Large both in Cement Taupe. ⁠ ___⁠ #pinqponq

A post shared by pinqponq (@pinqponq) on Jan 30, 2020 at 10:45am PST

The Cologne-based brand pinqponq create effective and lightweight backpacks, which are 100 percent made of recycled PET bottles. The label offers an original angle of purely sustainable design and production without compromise. In their own words, the brand strives towards creating ‘sophisticated and timeless products’ for their consumers. 

Pinqponq believe that ‘sustainability is a promise for the future’ and this is a promise that they truly take to heart, following ‘this path step by step’. The brand is a member of the Fair Wear Foundation (FWF).

4. Jan n June, Hamburg





SO in Love with the new drop earrings. You too? ✨ #byebyefastfashion #jannjune

A post shared by JAN 'N JUNE (@jannjune) on Jan 7, 2020 at 3:34am PST

Jan n June maintains the ideal that affordable fashion does not entail a choice between a reasonable price and the environment.

They believe that ‘you can have it all’. Their garments are produced in Wroclaw, Poland in a family-owned factory. All the fabrics used by the brand are certified by GOTS, the Global Recycling Standard and Oekotex.

Jan n June also promotes the concept of transparency, so customers have a holistic understanding of what they are buying.

The brand even goes further to increase levels of sustainability; reusing their carton shipping boxes as often as possible, purely using recycled office paper supplies, working to give off-cuttings a new life in the form of scrunchies or notebooks, and cutting down the level of plastic used throughout the entire shipping process.

5. LANIUS, Cologne

Since 1999, vegan clothing company LANIUS have been creating organic garments responsibly. To this day, over 20 years later the label are still bringing together sustainable materials with sophisticated design. LANIUS  is GOTS-certified and only uses materials controlled by independent institutes. They only use mulesing-free wool qualities, meaning that their clothes have a PETA-Approved Vegan Label for pain-free clothing.

Higher costs but better for environment

The labels mentioned in this article are just a small handful of sustainable clothing brands throughout Germany doing their bit to fight against fast fashion 

Their inspiring work is revolutionizing consumer relationships to the garments we  buy and as a result reducing overall waste in the long-term.

Although such brands tend to be more expensive, buying such a piece of clothing is seen as an investment, due to its durable nature, and therefore in the long-run, it could be better for both your pocket and for our environment.

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Living in Germany: Battles over Bürgergeld, rolling the ‘die’ and carnival lingo

From the push to reform long-term unemployment benefits to the lingo you need to know as Carnival season kicks off, we look at the highlights of life in Germany.

Living in Germany: Battles over Bürgergeld, rolling the 'die' and carnival lingo

Deadlock looms as debates over Bürgergeld heat up 

Following a vote in the Bundestag on Thursday, the government’s planned reforms to long-term unemployment benefits are one step closer to becoming reality. Replacing the controversial Hartz IV system, Bürgergeld (or Citizens’ Allowance) is intended to be a fair bit easier on claimants.

Not only will the monthly payment be raised from €449 to €502, but jobseekers will also be given a grace period of two years before checks are carried out on the size of their apartment or savings of up to €60,000. The system will also move away from sanctions with a so-called “trust period” of six months, during which benefits won’t be docked at all – except in very extreme circumstances. 

Speaking in parliament, Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) said the spirit of the new system was “solidarity, trust and encouragement” and praised the fact that Bürgergeld would help people get back into the job market with funding for training and education. But not everyone is happy about the changes. In particular, politicians from the opposition CDU/CSU parties have responded with outrage at the move away from sanctions.

CDU leader Friedrich Merz has even branded the system a step towards “unconditional Basic Income” and argued that nobody will be incentivised to return to work. 

The CDU and CSU are now threatening to block the Bürgergeld legislation when it’s put to a vote in the Bundesrat on Monday. With the conservatives controlling most of the federal states – and thus most of the seats in the upper house – things could get interesting. Be sure to keep an eye out for our coverage in the coming weeks to see how the saga unfolds. 

Tweet of the week

When you first start learning German, picking the right article to use can truly be a roll of the “die” – so we’re entirely on board with this slightly unconventional way to decide whether you’re in a “der”, “die”, or “das” situation. (Warning: this may not improve your German.) 

Where is this?

Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

Residents of Frankfurt am Main and the surrounding area will no doubt recognise this as the charming town of Kronberg, which is nestled at the foot of the Taunus mountains.

This atmospheric scene was snapped on Friday morning, when a drop in temperatures saw Kronberg and surrounding forests shrouded in autumnal fog.

After a decidedly warm start to November, the mercury is expected to drop into single digits over the weekend. 

Did you know?

November 11th marked the start of carnival season in Germany. But did you know that there’s a whole set of lingo to go along with the tradition? And it all depends on where you are. First of all, the celebration isn’t called the same thing everywhere. In the Rhineland, it’s usually called Karneval, while people in Bavaria or Saxony tend to call it Fasching. Those in Hesse and Saarland usually call it Fastnacht. 

And depending on where you are, there are different things to shout. The ‘fools call’ you’ll hear in Cologne is “Alaaf!” If you move away from Cologne, you’ll hear “Helau!” This is the traditional cry in the carnival strongholds of Düsseldorf and Mainz, as well as in some other German cities.

In the Swabian-Alemannic language region in the southwest of the country, people yell “Narri-Narro”, which means “I’m a fool, you’re a fool”. In Saarland at the French border, they shout “Alleh hopp!”, which is said to originate from the French language. 

Lastly, if someone offers you a Fastnachtskrapfe, say yes because it’s a jelly-filled carnival donut. And if you’re offered a Bützchen? It’s your call, but know that it’s a little kiss given to strangers!