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Slow fashion with the Pop-up Nähfabrik

Caroline Zöller

Published on 02.01.2020

Sarah Klein and Nicolas Schmitz are co-founders of the Pop-up Nähfabrik, which translates as Pop-up Sewing Factory in English. Their goal is to refurbish damaged clothing and to upcycle it with love and care.

The Pop-up Nähfabrik started life as an as an art event and was part of the “Slow Fashion Instead of Fast Fashion” exhibition held in Cologne’s Rautenstrauch-Strauch Museum. The two students of the ecosign/Design Academy used the event to spotlight the stark contrast that exists between the dark side of the textile industry, with its inhuman working conditions, and consumer behaviour.

They use the Pop-up Nähfabrik to present their alternative model to the current situation by upcycling worn or damaged clothing that wearers continue to value once it has been refurbished. The couple darned holes or rejuvenated worn-out clothing by enhancing it with Indian sari fabric – a garment that the seamstresses of the fast-fashion industry wear themselves. In this manner, the clothing takes on a personal note and continues to be worn. Furthermore, it also serves as a reminder that behind every fashion garment, there is a real-live person who made it. The company’s new fingerprint label that all clothes that have been enhanced by the Pop-up Nähfabrik bear is also intended as a nod to the seamstresses who make the products.

Together with the company Hehlerei (which translates as receiver of stolen goods in English), the “Alliance for Textile Transgressions”, the Pop-up Nähfabrik is putting together a fashion collection developed on PromoTex Expo’s Textile Campus in direct collaboration with exhibitors and visitors to the fair.

The goal is to present an unusual and sustainable production method for enhanced textiles that respects the natural limitations of our planet while also having impressive environmental and people-friendly credentials.

The challenge facing the collaboration is to develop a concept that demonstrates what upcycling and lateral-thinking can achieve within the scope of sustainable textile production. During the course of the fair, typical practices of the textile industry, in particular in the fields of merchandising, promotional wear, workwear, sportswear and teamwear will be challenged playfully, without being patronised in any way.

All PromoTex Expo visitors and exhibitors are invited to join in reflecting and thinking about these topics. Visitors to the fair may bring clothes along and donate them to the project, where the garments will be redesigned at the Textile Campus. Manufacturers at the fair are also being called upon to make their machines available to help in this upcycling process.

An aesthetic new collection will be put together during the course of the fair – completely under the sign of the Textile Campus. This will be presented as part of a mini-show of the Cologne youth project Out Beat Culture around the textile campus at 5pm on 8th January 2020. The artistic programme will make a fun contrast to conventional runway or catwalk events.

However, in order for the project to work, we need your help! We need your clothing donations to use for the collection Please bring along to the fair any unwanted old clothes that you no longer need and donate them to the Textile Campus at stand N59 in Hall 12. The textile collaborators also look forward to receiving any promotional wear from companies and the Pop-up Nähfabrik would be particularly grateful for donations of any sari fabrics that may be going.

Images: Pop-up Nähfabrik