Bernd Keller of 1C1Y on his social luxury brand, sustainability and future projects
1C1Y is a social luxury brand and a role model in the fashoin industry. With every garment sold, the German fashion brand founded in 2022 donates 60 euros to support disadvantaged children in a creative educational project run by a non-profit partner organisation ARTHELPS. The brand is continuing this chartity work through its "Workers of Hope" collection, which will be released on February 9. Bernd Keller, co-founder and creative director of 1C1Y who achieved a dream of his by launching his own label, after a fashion career at Hugo Boss, Marc O'Polo, Puma and Adidas, sat down with FashionNetwork.com to explain what drives him and how he would like to position his label.
FashionNetwork.com: For 1C1Y (One Child One Year), social fashion means above all creative support for children and young people. Why should the fashion industry, which has grown over decades, give something back?
Bernd Keller: Because the fashion industry, which has grown over decades, is also controlled by people. No matter which side we are on: fashion brand or consumer. In the last three years, we have experienced a new reality of our everyday life, which has shaped us differently. The industry has to rethink, familiar routines that have been followed for decades had to be questioned. Globalisation showed the interconnected dependency in all consumer goods, be it medicines, toilet paper or T-shirts, via raw material shortages. Consumer awareness is constantly increasing.
As a result, the requirements regarding transparency in the supply chain, social working conditions and sustainability have been continuously increasing for 15 years. In 2019, sustainable values were already important purchase decision criteria for 30% of consumers in Germany. Corona has been a wake-up call. Whether you're an industry or a fashion fan, it's a crash course in change management. Change for good!
FNW: Are you confident that the industry will achieve a sustainable turnaround?
BK: I love our industry, the development of innovative ready-to-wear fabrics, the fine-tuning of the final fitting. But most of all, I value working with the people who work with me on these new outfits with passion and know-how. Relationships that carry us through difficult times. We can feel that in our professional lives, but also in our private lives. And it concerns everyone. That's why I'm so optimistic that it's already about more than 1-metre of fabric consumption, costs and margins. A T-shirt can convey a feeling - the feeling of looking good and having done something good: a child's smile, hope, future.
FNW: What are the key issues in the textile industry?
BK: My commitment to sustainability led me to start my own business in 2018 and to leave my position on the board of a great company. The sustainability sector is very broad. It's about change and taking responsibility in development and production. All this starts with the companies' own will, marketing and customers to change. Instead of criticising others for their behaviour, we should learn to inspire with full conviction, passion and joy - without pointing fingers.
FNW: How did you come to launch 1C1Y? What are you focusing on for your label?
BK: At 1C1Y, I not only have the opportunity to use talents that have been given to me in a meaningful way, but also to start a new level. Unlike other brands, 1C1Y's goal is to give children hope and perspective through our work. I am not a doctor or a priest. But as a designer, I can inspire a group of people through aesthetics, who support the work of ARTHELPS [the Stuttgart-based organisation that supports children and young people in crisis regions with specially developed creative workshops, editor's note] by buying a 1C1Y garment. We want our customers to enjoy the style and quality of our designs. This concept makes a big difference and connects my colleagues and me in a very special way.
FNW: Where did your inspiration for the designs of the first collection come from?
BK: For me, everything starts with the end consumer. Before I develop yarns and fabrics, I need to know what our customers look like, what they like, how they live and what their values are. 1C1Y's first FW22 collection started with 90's street skate culture. Many of our target customers have experienced this time or are experiencing it at the moment. Vintage is therefore not imposed unfiltered, but translated in a new perspective. In the case of 1C1Y with luxurious materials and new proportions.
FNW: What events, collaborations and other highlights are you planning with 1C1Y for 2023/24?
BK: No collaborations are planned at the moment. Our wish is to grow organically and it is important to us that the philosophy behind our designs be in line with our philosophy. Nothing concrete is planned yet in terms of events, but we would like to do more projects with our ambassadors and ARTHELPS together and also continue to introduce our customers personally to our team to foster a personal customer relationship.
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