“When people are fighting for their lives, does fashion even matter?” So begin the show notes for GmbH’s spring collection.
It turns out both Benjamin Huseby and Serhat Isik were sick with the coronavirus during the lockdown, which makes it all the more impressive that they are presenting not just a collection — albeit half the usual size — but also one of the season’s most moving fashion films.
“Guest on Earth” shows an invisible being, played by dancer M.J. Harper, walking through a Berlin neighborhood, listening to the thoughts of a varied cast of residents, including DJ Honey Dijon. It speaks about the yearning for human connection, but also politics and sexual identity. “The film is a form of statement,” Huseby said.
With no time to develop new styles, the pair honed in on brand essentials such as pants and shorts with front-zip details; ribbed knits with strategically placed slits; graphic tank tops, and upscale versions of ath-leisure pieces, such as a baby blue windbreaker, or a zippered red lycra running top.
Rounding out their three-part project is the online screening of “A Season of Migration to the North,” a work by artist Lars Laumann that tells the story of gay activist Eddie Esmail, who was arrested while taking part in a fashion show in Sudan and subsequently sought asylum in Norway.
“It touches on everything GmbH is about: politics, migration, fashion and beauty, but also queerness,” said Huseby. “Obviously, staging a fashion show in Sudan was clearly a very subversive political act. And I think that’s the beauty, that fashion isn’t only just about nice clothes.”
Order cancellations meant GmbH’s fall collection was down by almost 40 percent in volume terms, prompting the duo to scale back their forecasts for next season and rethink their priorities. “Within our system, it’s always if you don’t grow, you’re essentially failing, right? And I think that’s obviously bulls–t,” Huseby said.
Isik said the experience has shown them a different way to operate the business.
“Prior to COVID, staging a show was the ultimate way of showing a collection, and now it’s way more democratic,” he said. “Any other tool can be just as impactful, and it’s fine to skip a season, to do it differently.”