When creative people come together, their creativity multiplies to a whole new level. They exchange thoughts, feelings and visions, and build a better future in their minds first. It’s like that special moment at your favorite festival when the whole crowd moves in the same direction carried by the music. This is what I think the creative community is about and what we need – especially right now.
During the time when Covid turned all our worlds upside down, we were all looking for creative ways to be together, work together, and dare together.
For me, the best ways to escape and feel free is through fashion and arts. Every big empty canvas is like a new start, another chance to get some thoughts off my mind and every day is another day to discover how I can combine my favorite fashion pieces to match the day’s mood.
With all the ongoing restrictions, I started to appreciate the small things way more. So much so that now, every time I go outside I take a deep breath and just enjoy the day. I also learned to intendedly overdress when I feel like it.
When I moved back home from my job in a big Fashion House in Milan to the small town where I was born, I felt a little like Alice in Wonderland. Of course, between a worldwide fashion metropole like Milan and my hometown in Germany, there are several differences concerning fashion. People aren’t necessarily used to the way I dress and the way I do my makeup. But that was the moment when I started reflecting on empowering outfits, the fashion scene in Germany with its certain monopole in Berlin and this small city with a lot of fashion history nobody really knows anymore.
Altenburg is a city that belongs to the former eastern part of Germany. The women of eastern Germany were known for being hardworking and very creative, mostly because they had to be. So, in lack of clothing they would cut and sew everything they could find – from bedsheets to curtains.
Through this, they developed a very specific style that was mostly related to an underground scene and was their way of protesting against a strict regime.
One of the two biggest clothing manufacturers was located in Altenburg. The brand was called Lucie Kaiser and delivered clothing all over the country and even to other countries, which was not that usual at that time. This brand was the one that made Altenburg a little, hidden fashion capital in Germany. When my mom was younger, she and her sister nearly left my grandmother without bedsheets because they were wildly sewing blouses out of the nice cotton fabric. It was also very usual to use baby blankets to create accessories that no one else had. Young people became trendsetters of clothing and were incredibly proud of their creations. Most importantly: it was one way to have a lot of fun back then!
Dressing up became a form of mental health care. We all find reasons to get up every day and make the most of it.
This whole process was the very base for the new collection of my own fashion brand CRLN_WTKE.
I’ve always liked the idea of having something on my own but I never thought it would happen that fast. With the help of the Unicorn Fashion Award and Dare Clan, I am now assured to start my brand with a clear vision for the future.
Since I’m founding my label in this city that used to be a fashion city before, I really like the thought of reminding the local people of their own history. I want to give them a reason to go out and enjoy themselves with the clothes they put on. In the ideal case, I can let them remember how to have fun with fashion and use it to empower themselves.
Power dressing is nowadays far more important than we can imagine. Dressing up became a form of mental health care. We all find reasons to get up every day and make the most of it. So for some of us, it became a ritual to dress up properly every morning for having a good start in the day.
I see my next collaboration as a possibility to remind the people of Altenburg of their own story and at the same time give them a reason to overdress. I want them to dare to overdress. Styling yourself up got bold in times when no one sees it but that is exactly the point. We are getting overdressed for ourselves, just to have fun and get distracted, turning a more greyish day-to-day life into a colorful world.
That’s the idea on which I based the Carolin Woitke’s designs for Dare Clan. The pieces are inspired by the roots of German fashion, whereas the cuts are inspired by big German fashion designers like Jil Sander and Karl Lagerfeld. The mood behind the pieces is related to the lifestyle of big cities like Berlin.
During the time I worked for Jil Sander, I realized the power of clean cuts and strong designs that the brand always inherited, and I thought about what German design means today. Today, the German fashion scene is shaped by small labels with a strong sustainable background. I think many of the young designers that Germany brings up right now are innovative and incredibly forward-thinking. The only thing we need more right now is the bravery of the people to wear it and be open-minded enough to enhance it. That’s exactly what the pieces of this collaboration are: the bridge between design and the people who don’t necessarily deal with that kind of subject.
Not long ago, I was talking to a friend in town and we both agreed on wanting to be more outgoing with our outfits. What I want to do starting from Altenburg, is to inspire people to think less about what they can wear and more about what they really want to wear.
Of course, one of the parts I enjoy the most is the fact that I get to work with my friends whilst working on great projects with an even greater impact. When I was studying in Germany and Italy, I got to meet a lot of inspiring people in so many different fields. I was dancing in the Zug der Liebe in Berlin with Audi O’Max (DJ), having deep and motivating conversations with Dagmar Küchler (painter) in her Atelier and I had the most fun fashion discussions with Bohan Liu (stylist) who even introduced me to my favorite editorial photographers: Tiger Zhang and Chicco Jiang.
This was when I realized I wanted to find more creatives around the world and get these people together to create a community that helps and supports each other – may it be with ideas or simply inspiring each other. That’s why I’m so happy to be part of the Dare Clan community. Since Dare Clan is a global collective of “creators for creators” I can’t wait to meet them all. I see a lot of potential in the German creative scene as well, and as Artistic Director of Dare Clan for Germany I’m looking forward to giving some momentum to small designers and artists all over the country. To begin, I thought of a fashion movie night in Altenburg in collaboration with Dare Clan, Capitol Altenburg and Parkhotel Altenburg in order to create an unforgettable night of fashion and popcorn. This way, I can support some of my favorite local people and at the same time actually bring people together. We want to bring the vision of Dare Clan to Germany starting in Altenburg as it’s center of gravity. Dare Clan is aiming to have a positive impact in fostering the creative scene in different parts of Germany.
There is a growing demand for sustainable products and ethnically correct productions all over the country. People are really invested in finding solutions for sustainable clothing and they love thrift shopping anyways.
Even if sustainability is becoming the new normal, I needed to find my own starting point with it. On the one hand, I’m interested in new materials like latex and natural dyeing techniques but on the other hand, I think nothing is more sustainable than a timeless design for a high-quality piece.