Less is more. An interview with Barbara Gebhardt, founder of NIX Design
NIX Design has a holistic approach to fashion production and consumption.
This pioneering label, founded in the 90´s by the fashion designer Barbara Gebhardt, is a great example – and a role model – of how it is possible to implement different sustainability and circularity strategies within a fashion business.
We visited Barbara at her wonderful flagship store at Oranienburgerstraße 32 in Mitte. Barbara told us more about the brand´s choices in terms of materials, styles and end-of-life services.
GFT: Your website says that one of your philosophies is “Less is more.” How do you think this impacts on the design of your clothing?
Barbara: “Less is more” refers to the reduced design of our clothes. Nevertheless, every model has an idea that reveals the style of NIX. The clothes are designed to last, durable in material and finish. They are like evergreens that survive several seasons. To me, it also means buying less, but selecting items for their good quality. The collections build on each other in terms of the language and colour of design, so that the customer can systematically expand their selection of clothes, and have a multitude of possible combinations with few pieces.
GFT: What fabrics do you use, and where do they come from?
Barbara: Cotton fabrics with GOTS certification are now relatively easy to obtain, so even the production of fabric in our own colors from a certain minimum quantity is possible. We work mainly with fabric manufacturers from Portugal. We also use jersey fabric, which is bought from Greece. We always try to avoid long transport routes and essentially source all our fabrics in Europe. By now the range of materials on offer has greatly expanded and there are new options and procedures, such as recycled PET (plastic bottles). Blended fabrics are also used for certain effects. These fabrics are often more durable and easier to care for.
GFT: Your collections seem to have a very fixed colour scheme, focused around darker colours. Can you say a little bit about that?
Barbara: The monochrome color palette is part of the idea of longevity. A yellow sweater can be sorted out of the wardrobe soon enough, while the dark blue one is kept – it fits time and time again, if the quality and cut are right. Personally, I do not wear anything colorful and prefer a monochrome wardrobe, which is reflected in my designs.
GFT: You carry out various upcycling programmes, for example you repair clothes which have been worn out by customers. Do you do workshops to encourage consumers to do this themselves, or are the repairs an important part of business?
Barbara: The repairs are understood as a service and the customers give tips according to their own discretion for our studio. We want the clothes to be worn as long as possible. In addition to this, from time to time we organize vintage promotions entitled “NIX by Others“. Our customers can bring back clothes that are no longer worn and get discounts on a new purchase. These clothes are then temporarily offered in our vintage department. Some of the pieces are up to 10-15 years old and still well preserved and current. I am also currently working on a DIY project with selected cuts from our collections.
GFT: You use very little plastic, use green light electricity and use sustainable fabrics. This is amazing! Which aspect of your all-round sustainability was the most challenging?
Barbara: We started working with sustainable fabrics at a very early stage, nobody really cared about them at the time, so the style of NIX was in the foreground. It was sometimes very difficult to find any materials at all, and these were then often rather plain and simple in their qualities. Finding the audience and consumers willing to share this added value was more difficult than I expected. To buy fewer items, and to select sustainable items of high quality, is the best measure of our resources.
If you want to know more about NIX design and personally meet Nadia and Barbara, come on tour with us in Mitte on 5th April. Registrations are now open.
You can shop their collections at: https://www.nix.de/onlineshop/
About the blog author:
Deirbhile Brennan is from Ireland, has a degree in English Literature and believes in saving the world through the power of words. She is also something of a fashion icon, although her friends would disagree. She finds Berlin completely fascinating, in particular its sustainable fashion and upcycling scene.
Pictures by NIX Design