Circle your calendars: tomorrow, on May 18th, Reference Studios, Berlin's go-to fashion communication and consulting agency, is staging the inaugural edition of its much-anticipated Reference Berlin Festival in the German capital. This 24-hour-long interdisciplinary festival – an initiative of the agency in partnership with 032c’s Joerg and Maria Koch – will exhibit a carefully curated selection of collections, works, and performances made for the occasion by fashion industry players, both established and emerging ones. We caught up with the man behind it all, Mumi Haiati, Founder and CEO of Reference Studios, who gave us a sneak-peek of what we can expect from Berlin's first festival that fuses fashion with contemporary art, music, and new technologies. Here's what he had to say.
Mumi Haiati. Photo: Courtesy of Jonas Lindstroem.
Can you tell us more about the story behind the Reference Berlin Festival? How did the original idea evolve from the moment of discussing the project the first time to actually producing the festival?
For a long time, I felt there was something missing on the fashion landscape. A platform perhaps which is stimulating and inspires fresh approaches. Especially in Berlin. Early last year the idea started manifesting into first drafts of a festival. We then made an attempt for an initial launch in early fall. Internal changes, among other challenges, lead to reformation and a whole new try this year. And finally, it's actually all coming together beautifully.
Why did you want to merge different practices, such as fashion, art, music, and technology?
In a digital age, they merge naturally. We've got virtual influencers and models. Rarely does a current collection not feature a collaboration with an artist. Music is omnipresent in fashion – they correlate. A platform to bring them all together both makes sense and feels absolutely organic.
Tell us more about this first edition’s highlights. Who are the major players and what can we expect to see?
Everything. The greatest highlight of all is probably the event finally coming to life, which obviously wouldn’t be possible if it weren't for the sum of all its amazing participants and their contributions! 032c will be present with a band of robots: we've got Alyx with an Ikebana workshop, Selam X have an AR space together with MTV. All of it is captivating – the experience ultimately is up to the visitor; we give them all the options.
The entrance to Reference Berlin. Photo: Courtesy of Reference Studios.
What are you particularly looking forward to?
Personally, I am chuffed to have the Comme des Garçons family aboard with 3! projects; Matt Lambert for Comme des Garçons parfums, Jordan Hemingway & Jan Heinrich in fierce collaboration with Dover Street Market, and of course an unveiling of the new Diesel x GR-UNIFORMA collection presented by Gosha Rubchinskiy. Adrian Joffe enabled this, which feels like a huge seal of approval. The same goes for Michel Gaubert's contribution, an unfiltered stream of photos from his phone – which feels almost synonymous to this season's theme, Working Out Loud, provided by 032c.
Why did you choose Berlin as a location for this particular event? Is it an attempt to help make Berlin more relevant on the international fashion map?
I am almost tempted to say it's the opposite of that. Berlin doesn't have a fashion history like Milan or Paris do. I don't see a need to establish Berlin as a fashion capital just for the sake of it. That said, Berlin, to me, very much is a creative capital and we reflect that in the festival through "more local" artists, musicians, and tech people being involved. Berlin is a place that inspires experimentation and creative freedom – we celebrate the both of them.
Follow the action of the festival via live-updates on Reference Studios's Instagram.