Marcus Kurz is the founder of Nowadays, a Berlin-based creative agency now focussing on three columns: full service photo production (the company’s original field of expertise), classic brand communication (campaign development and art direction) and events. Since its beginning in 2001, Nowadays has especially build up its experience in the fashion sector and produced imagery, concepts, catwalk shows and and other events for a broad range of renowned clients from Adidas, Diesel or Lacoste to Cartier or Vivienne Westwood. In January 2015, during Fashion Week Berlin, Marcus Kurz co-initiated the ‘Berliner Mode Salon’ together with Christiane Arp, editor-in-chief of Vogue Germany. At the impressive grounds of Kronzprinzenpalais, 18 German designers presented their latest collections (or excerpts of these) in a mix of presentation formats ranging from classic runway shows to video installations. After an all around positive reception in January, the Mode Salon will be back this Friday, this time rendering a presentation platform to even 30 German fashion talents – amongst these established labels such as Dorothee Schumacher, Lala Berlin or Iris von Armin but also younger names like Hien Le, Malaikaraiss, Perret Schaad or Tim Labenda. We spoke to Marcus Kurz on his showcase concept and what German fashion is for him. Interview by Maria Hunstig

The designers of January's Mode Salon (photo: Nowadays)
The designers of January's Mode Salon (photo: Nowadays)

The first edition of the Berliner Mode Salon was a success. What do you think did people like about it?
I think it was something new, that both press representatives and buyers did not know in this format. It’s a hybrid of fair, showroom and fashion presentation, but smaller and more diverse that comparable events. I think the portfolio of designers was very appealing as it was a good blend of old and new names. Also, the location at Kronprinzenpalais is very impressive -  a whole palace full of fashion and the creatives behind it. It is neither a party event, nor is it a newcomer award or rescue initiative, but an idea of how to present German fashion design today.

What is the motivation behind the event, who does it actually address?
It’s about the designers and pushing their contacts to the press and buyers – and this has worked out really well. In its first season, we registered more press representatives than buyers, but we want to increase their share for the upcoming edition. However, the Mode Salon is not an actual ordering platform but simply serves as a connector. It’s about awakening the international interest in German fashion, not about running a profitable business model. The participating designers merely pay a service charge.

How did the Mode Salon come into being?
First of all, we had an initial meeting with around two thirds of the participating designers where we discussed Berlin as a fashion location and the status quo of German fashion design. We know the reasons why designers left Berlin as a location so first of all it was very important to speak about this with the people who it actually concerns!

How did you select the designers for the second edition?
Fortunately, after the last edition we sat down with the participating designers and everyone wanted to take part again. We are only showing womenswear brands but we decided to extend the portfolio by accessories and jewelry designers this time. Apart from that, the selection developed pretty naturally and with little discussion – either the designer felt appendant to the Mode Salon or they didn’t. If we hosted any extremely avant-garde or very casual label, it wouldn’t be a very positive experience for them as the event simply doesn’t attract the right buyers for them. And we try to fulfill everyone’s expectations!
The nice thing about the Mode Salon is that the participating designers value and support each other – we do not want to have any competition!

Michael Sontag presentation at the Mode Salon in January (photo: Nowadays)
Michael Sontag presentation at the Mode Salon in January (photo: Nowadays)

What kind of impression about German fashion do you want to leave on the international visitors?
I want them to recognize the readability of fashion design from Germany. We have style and talent to offer, even if there is no one common “German style”. Berlin can be a place for new creatives and this message still really needs to be pinned to the people’s heads more strongly. Many German designers left the country very early and they aren’t even recognized as German designers any longer.

How are you bringing the retail side on board?
It’s one of our main aims to give young designers the right retail contacts – only those who sell well can make a next collection! German retail is often rather little risky and tends to watch collections for longer before the buyers actually order it. But I hope we find some supporters who simply take the risk. Also we entered a partnership with KaDeWe where we are hosting a “Berliner Mode Salon” pop-up shop which sells the current fall/winter collections of our designers for six to eight weeks. This is really the next big step for us.

How big can the Mode Salon grow and what’s up next on the agenda?
We are now well filled, this is a good size. If we suddenly had 50-100 labels on board, we would miss our aims and be a totally different event, that’d be sad.
For future editions, I could image to have additional exhibitions or talks, also more distributed over the year and not only during fashion week. I think with our designers’ great energy, a lot of exciting ideas can develop.

The Berliner Mode Salon will host the following designers at Kronprinzenpalais, Unter den Linden 3, from 2-6 pm on Friday, July 10, 2015:
Allude, Antonia Zander, Augustin Teboul, Dawid Tomaszewski, Dorothee Schumacher, Felder Felder, Golpira, Haltbar, Hien Le, Horror Vacui, Iris von Arnim, Isabell de Hillerin, Lala Berlin, Malaikaraiss, Marina Hoermanseder, Michael Sontag, Mykita, Odeeh, PB0110, Perret Schaad, Rné, Schacky, Stiebich & Rieth, Talbot Runhof, The Medley Institute, Tim Labenda, Vladimir Karaleev