South Africa: Level Eight fashion design | Planet Berlin - The global tourist guide for Germanyʼs booming capital | DW | 16.05.2019

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Planet Berlin

South Africa: Level Eight fashion design

Quality, not quantity: Jade Helene Shimmin designs three collections per year in small runs. You can try on your limited edition pieces in her cozy Mitte showroom.

Her first collection in Berlin was inspired by the weather here, shares South African fashion designer Jade Helen Shimmin, with a chuckle. Her first trip to Berlin was as a stylist for a photoshoot in Winter 2014 – a cold and grey experience, she recalls. The collection, 'In the Greys of Dreams' is composed mainly of greys and blacks, playing on the nuances of shadow. "It was my first collection without color," says the graduate of Cape Town's Fedisa fashion school.

Her first collection, which debuted in Amsterdam, was characterized by a kaleidoscope of color. For a while, Jade Helene Shimmin had gained a reputation in Berlin as the woman who designed the look for famed techno temple Berghain's female clientele – black and minimalist. But that's all changed now, she explains.

Jade Helene Shimmin wants to reintroduce more color into her fashion, to highlight her own roots. "Nobody wears black in South Africa – it's much too hot for that." She originally opened her showroom, Level Eight, with another designer, but now she runs the business herself.

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Material girl

In 2018, the gallery moved to a basement-level front on the lively Torstrasse in Berlin Mitte, with its many shops and restaurants. There she also presents the work of other independent designers, though less frequently than she used to. "It's easier for one person to manage that way," she says. Most of the clothing racks in her amiable shop are filled with her own collections, of which she produces three a year.

She loves to try out new things, saying, "You never stop learning in fashion." Following her studies, she first worked for a manufacturer of athletic clothing in London, even though she had no particular interest in sports. "It's just interesting to learn about how other types of materials are used," she reflects. When it comes to her own models, each is a limited edition. Her production team is located in South Africa, but Jade Helene Shimmin produces individual items herself in Berlin, commenting, "I am no fan of mass production. It's much nicer when you have something really special."

Author: Ludwig Peters

Torstr. 147
10119 Berlin-Mitte

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