BERLIN — The long-awaited Fashion Council Germany is getting primed for action.
The first national organization devoted to supporting and bolstering the interest in Germany’s burgeoning designer community, the FCG will be unveiling its first initiatives at the Zeitmagazin/Vogue Fashion & Style Conference Thursday during Berlin Fashion Week.
Founded in January as a registered association by 10 people from the media, communications, retail, fair and design sectors, the FCG is still in its pre-membership and official funding stages. However, as president Christiane Arp, editor in chief of German Vogue, and managing director Marcus Kurz, founder and director of production agency Nowadays, explained, it has been possible to get a jump-start with several pilot projects before the council expects to be fully up and running.
One is a prelude to the FCG’s planned fellowship program, a juried, two-year long mentoring program including financial support slated to start with up to three designers in fall 2016. In cooperation with the Berlin Senate and using funds previously slated for the Senate’s Start Your Fashion Business competition, two Berlin designers will already be enrolled in a mentoring program this year.
In June, Arp also attended the European Parliament’s first high-level conference on “The Future of Cultural and Creative Industries in Europe” in Brussels as a fashion representative as well as FCG spokeswoman. The meeting began outlining how fashion, among other creative industries, can now for the first time access the financial resources of the Juncker European Union investment plan.
The Fashion Council Germany is now being considered to host a Europe-wide conference on education, copyright, technology, innovation and sustainability in early 2016. Christian Ehler, German member of the European Parliament and cofounder of the Intergroup on the Cultural and Creative Industries in Europe, said it is precisely the newness of the Fashion Council Germany and the nation’s large number of emerging designers seriously in need of financial footing “that makes us so keen to back it…We want the hosting Fashion Council to show us the pure reality out there. Germany may be staid, but to organize a conference like that, Berlin might be a good choice. It’s a lively creative hub, and also the capital of the strongest economy in Europe.”
A non-profit organization, the FCG sees itself as a competence center and platform for fashion “designed in Germany.” Also on its agenda: political, economic and cultural lobbying; international and national public relations; development of fashion “Designed in Germany” campaigns; linking national industries with German fashion designers; connecting German start-ups with the German fashion design community; events and activities in the form of fairs, showrooms and collaborations; the establishment of “Designed in Germany” as a seal of quality; individual support of German fashion designers, providing access to investors, manufacturers and suppliers; “business angel” functions through coaching, networks, etc.; information data banks; exchange programs with international associations, retailers and manufacturers; a digital talent pool of German designers; coordination of national fashion calendars and events; co-operations with Germany’s 40 fashion schools, as well as training programs abroad; business coaching and workshops, and establishing fashion design and technology networks.