Formed in 2016 by Serhat Isik and Benjamin Alexander Huseby, Berlin-based collective GmbH has garnered over the past few years a reputation for their diverse collaborative approach and innovative sustainable outlook which ensures the majority of the pair’s clothes are made from deadstock material sourced from a high-end factory in Milan – in resistance to the overconsumption of today’s fashion industry.
Immediately picked up by Opening Ceremony just after the launch of their first collection, and recently shortlisted for the LVMH Prize for young designers, the duo has developed an aesthetic which remixes elements of underground club culture and cross-cultural references within their workwear-minded approach to streetwear.
From ultra-glossy vinyls to brushed leathers extended in superlong trousers, to nylon tops and structural panelling elevating jackets to new heights, the duo always manages to infuse their garments with strikingly unusual details.
Bringing forth their commitment to using fashion as a platform to start conversations about race, beauty, and the struggles of minorities, this season, the duo decided to present a series of projects experimenting with how fashion can be a progressive force.
“[Fashion] shouldn’t only be about selling clothes. We have this platform to speak to people and it gave us this opportunity to make this film Guest On Earth, which was kind of a statement and also it came out of this need for everything turning digital and humans having to keep their distance,” stated Huseby.
Made in collaboration with director Francisco Sendino, the film [Guest on Earth] features glimpses into people’s lives, as an invisible being, perhaps an angel, passes them while listening in on their innermost thoughts. With music composed by local artist Lyra Pramuk, the duo wanted to show the ordinary things that happen every day, in their neighbourhood in Berlin as rituals of resistance.
The second project included an exclusive preview of the film by artist Lars Laumann, called ‘Season of Migration to the North’. The 17-minute video artwork told the story of the fashion show a Sudanese refugee named Eddie Esmail staged in his country of origin, before getting arrested for his sexual orientation and before fleeing Sudan for Norway.
“This video really shows how fashion can really be a political act, and it connects with what GmbH is so much because it’s about fashion, but it’s also about migration and about being displaced and also about queerness, LGBTQ rights and so on, so this video talks about that in a very poetic and beautiful way and at the same time, it is a fashion show that happened in Sudan,” recounted Huseby.
Last but not least, the third part of the project presented included a lookbook of a series of garments that the duo worked on during quarantine.
Although COVID-19 took a particular toll on the designers – who were both affected by it physically and psychologically – in a way it ended up inspiring them to create one of their best collections up to date, a collection which included all of their signature styles, from nylon tops with contrast stitching to workwear styles to knitwear and then more kind of architectural details.
“It started off growing from a sense of pragmatism and lack of time, as we lost so much time, and then into something that we really love, as we took our core pieces and reworked them, in a sense,” explained Isik. “It actually developed into one of our favourite collections really,” continued Huseby.
Ultimately though, this experience helped the duo refocus on why they started the company and why they want to be in fashion – that is using this platform to be able to talk about issues in the world that they want to talk about – a way of reflecting on their community and themselves.
“We just want to continue that work and I think fashion is always going to be a core of what we do but I think we are very much going to continue doing books and exhibitions, films and collaborating with artists and finding ways of making GmbH much more a universe. It is fashion-based but it’s not only about the clothes, but it’s also about so much more and it’s about humanity,” concluded the duo.