I’ll put it out there straight away and say that I absolutely love DB BERDAN, the matriarchal queer street wear brand whose shows and presentations are a multi-dimensional feast which bring the club to the catwalk. I was delighted that the label who draw their inspiration from social rights, the streets and underground culture, were rewarded with having their SS20 collection appear as part of the official London Fashion Week schedule. I met up with the guys at their immersive ravey-vibed “Self-Love Club” presentation where we discussed everything that blends together to make DB BERDAN the unique and transformational force they are.
1.Congratulations on your SS20 collection. Its entitled “Self-Love Club” which seems a very timely theme given the times we are living in. What was the inspiration behind the self-love concept?
Thank you so much. As you know the Olympics are pretty close by and we were just looking into the whole sports club industry and felt like it’s still very normed by male domination. So, we wanted to take this male dominating sports club industry and turn it into an all gendered inclusive activity. We wanted to create our own sports club calling it Self Love Club, celebrating self-love and to embrace each other’s differences.
2. The collection pays tribute to the many prominent LGBTQ+ sports people and as part of that theme you take the toxic heteronormativity of the traditional male orientated sports club and reimagine it as a gender inclusive activity. You accompany it with the slogan “Racing for Equality”. How do you think that race is progressing?
As much as we see the news coverage in Western countries and the law being a lot more protective over the minorities, we still feel like the race has not really progressed much over the years around the world. In fact, in some countries it has turned to worse as it got shined a light on. Even in western countries, you don’t know what goes on in closed doors the oppression still continues within those safe spaces. We think the race has just started and there are a lot of rounds of laps to finish the line.
3. I absolutely loved the collection which has a very late 80’ s / early 90s feel to it. The silhouettes, tie-dye denim and bold colours vividly reference the warehouse and rave scene of my younger days. What is it about that era that so captured your imagination?
I had my first rave experience in the first week I came to London for uni. We were sitting in a park and some random guy came over to give us flyers on an underground drum and bass party. It really was something that stayed in my mind, the entrance of an abandoned warehouse, walking towards where the music comes from, people dancing like crazy off their heads. I truly never experienced something like that. It was truly thrilling and super exciting. So that was my welcome package to rave culture.
DB Berdan always takes huge inspirations from 80’s and 90’s as one of us partied through 90’s grunge and industrial vibes and the other in 2008 which had such a comeback for 80’s that her style just got stuck in that era.
4. The collection is made from quite beautiful authentic and environmentally friendly prints. How vital is it to the DB Berdan ethos that your materials are ethically sourced and have a sustainable footprint?
It’s your basic human consciousness isn’t it? If you love what you create and have a purpose to gather your community around you want to best for them. Being ethical for us means staying true to your community as they elevate you, you give back to them. We’re using organic cotton and environment friendly prints and dyes. We’ve also have giant woven tags as accessories that states to take care of our planet wash less, wash cold, line dry donate or recycle.
5.The rave generation theme is further enhanced by your collaboration with Smiley, whose logo was the visual manifestation of the Second Summer of Love. How did that collab come about?
We were so happy to be collaborating with the symbol of all positivity, Smiley Company. We really think that Smiley Company had really elevated our Self Love Club Story by spreading positivity and love.
6. What do you think it is about the Smiley philosophy that continues to be relevant and to resonate, nearly 50 years after its creation.
Their coming out story is very meaningful. They start at war time in newspapers, they used to highlight the positive, uplifting stories with a yellow smiley face; so that people can read the happy parts of the era. So even in war time within all those negativity they spread happiness and turned the negativity into positivity. DB Berdan is the same in that it is a reaction to things that they feel are wrong and channel that into positive messages.
7. The presentation was beautifully staged with a Jägermeister bar and live sets from GIRLI, Ashnikko and DJ Krystal Lake, evoking total club vibes. How much planning and consideration goes into making your shows a multi-dimensional experience?
We love creating a full-on experience to spread the message well. You have to make the others feel the way you do and the way to do this is with a multi-dimensional show. We had an incredible team that helped us create and elevate our feelings into the guests that came to the show. We would love to thank everyone that was involved in this show.
8. Championing social rights is a unifying theme across all your work. You have famously campaigned for LGBTQ+ rights in Turkey and chastised our current Prime Minister for his “burka” comment. How important is it to use the public platform that fashion provides you, to campaign for social justice and equality?
As we all know fashion is very fashionable. This is the platform that we can really shout out our messages and make an impact. We have witnessed this in Turkey and really believe that does make a change. When you think of the fashion industry you first think of a very superficial core of the capitalism and consumerism. However, we should also not forget that fashion is the fastest changing system maybe after technology. You as a creator have the choice to change the course of things. The industry is morphing into a more conscious body thanks to the people who have been working their asses off to change it for a long long time.
9. DB Berdan is famously a mother and daughter collaboration. When did you realise that you shared a passion for creating and how rewarding is it to be on this path together?
We call ourselves a matriarchal company. Everything really came together organically. My grandmother was a seamstress and a really good one at that. Ironically, she would tell my mom not to get into the textile industry knowing all the good, the bad and the ugly. Well that didn’t stop my mom to create DB Berdan. I was actually more interested in the historical side of clothing studying costume design for performance. But as I graduated, I started assisting my mom as the third generation of our working woman to join the industry. Now we became partners and we do things together. She’s more into 90’s masculinity and more into 80’s feminine side of things. We join our forces together and create genderless looks.
10. This season has seen you debut on the main London Fashion Week schedule. As a fan it’s incredibly exciting to see the label on such an upward trajectory. How would you like the brand to develop and evolve from here?
Our biggest new development for now is that we have started doing 6 seasons. We are a gender inclusive brand so as for mens we have decided to call it DB Berdan Masculin which will have more masculine designs.
Huge thanks and big love to DB Berdan for providing such a fascinating and thought-provoking insight into their ethos and influences. Also, many thanks to those lovely people at Black PR for arranging.