Fashioning a bright future

The Local’s series Made in Germany presents the best the country has to offer, including the Berlin fashion label c.neeon.

Fashioning a bright future
Photo: c-neeon

From luxury cars to precision machinery, “Made in Germany” still means quality craftsmanship around the world. But the Teutonic attention to detail goes far beyond engineering. This series will feature a diverse array of products from both well-known German brands and less famous firms. But no matter big or small, all of them are focused on being the best at what they do.

The young Berlin-based designers behind the c.neeon have attracted lots of attention since establishing the fashion label in 2004.

Clara Leskovar and Doreen Schulz had no sooner finished their degrees (Leskovar in textiles, Schulz in fashion) at the Berlin’s Weissensee School of Art than they were showing their first pieces on the runway at the city’s Fashion Week held that same year. They’ve been busy ever since, putting out two collections a year each year from their office in a former kindergarten in Berlin’s Lichtenberg district.

The two designers, who have teamed up with big names like Topshop and H&M, are known for their bold patterns. These are drawn from a number of sources: “One collection was based on a book, Jeff Noon’s ‘Automated Alice,’” says Leskovar. “So it was a kind of cyberspace Alice in Wonderland. Another time, Doreen was in a flea market in Japan and found a belt. All the patterns were based on this belt.”

Other inspirations include the song “Do You Remember the First Time,” by the band Pulp, which they used for their first solo collection, hosted by the British Fashion Council. “We thought the song fit the circumstance,” says Leskovar. “So we thought of all the things you can do for the first time: flying in a airplane alone, swimming, riding a bike without training wheels. Then we thought of what you could wear to do that.” Their current collection, ‘Flamingos,’ is based on the poem of the same name by Rainer Maria Rilke.

Their collection is 80 percent women’s clothing, and 20 percent menswear, and includes everything from dresses to accessories to hoodie sweatshirts and tees. A dress might set you back nearly €400, while striped leggings cost €119. The label’s collection is sold online, as well as in stores in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Japan, and the United States.

C.neeon features lots of knitwear, and everything is produced in Saxony, where Schulz hails from. “Saxony has a strong tradition of producing knits,” says Leskovar. “And it’s really practical that it’s so close by. Our clothes are not simple, so the process requires really good communication. We can drive down and oversee things.”

The two women don’t just make clothing, either: they have work in parallel on art installations and other design projects. In addition to designing bags, tee shirts and pillows for the H&M store at Berlin’s Hackescher Markt, they also designed a large, colored mirror for the store’s interior. This year, both women started teaching third and fourth year design students at their old art school.

“Eventually, we’d really like to keep growing. But maybe now is not the time for it,” says Leskovar.


Amazon workers across Germany go on strike for higher wages in build up to ‘online Xmas’

Employees of the online retailer Amazon have downed their tools at several locations across Germany in a protest against precarious wages, but the online shopping giant insists that the strike won’t impact Christmas deliveries.

Amazon workers across Germany go on strike for higher wages in build up to 'online Xmas'
Photo: DPA

In Bad Hersfeld, in the central state of Hesse, employees at an Amazon logistics centre started their strike early on Monday morning. A spokeswoman for the Verdi trade union said they expected about 500 workers at the retail company to take part. 

In Rheinberg and Werne in North Rhine-Westphalia, the strike began shortly before midnight on Sunday evening, with some 500 workers taking part and further 300 workers in the town of Werne joining in.

The union action has hit six locations across the country in total and strike action is set to last until Christmas Eve.

The trade union Verdi had called for strikes at various locations as it sought to push Amazon into recognition of the collective agreements which are commonly established established between trade unions and employer associations in Germany.

“Last week's closure of on-site retail has once again significantly increased the volume of orders placed with mail-order companies such as Amazon,” Verdi said in a statement.

“While the corporation continues to increase its billions in profits, it refuses to pay employees according to collective bargaining agreements. These are minimum conditions,” the union added.

A Verdi spokesman added that Amazon was earning “a golden profit” while workers' health suffered under the stress of delivering packages on time during the pandemic.

Additionally, the trade union said it wanted to push for better health and safety at the workplace in Amazon logistics centres. 

Amazon has always resisted joining in such agreements, claiming that it offers good wages outside of the traditional trade union structures.

Amazon said Monday that its employees already benefit from “excellent wages, excellent fringe benefits and excellent career opportunities.” 

The US-based firm also said that it made health and well-being at work a top priority. 

The company insisted that the strikes would have no impact on customer deliveries in the run up to Christmas, stating that the vast majority of employees work as normal.