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Written by Brian James @brianjamesstyling and Leigh Maynard @leighmaynard

DB Berdan, the London hyper streetwear brand, believes in a strong sense of narrative, passion and a good dose of humour. Taking account of social rights movements, street and underground cultures, they pride themselves in self-expression and freedom of speech reflected through their bold and visually stunning collections and shows.

For SS21, the brand has seized upon the values that matter to them during these testing times. In the next chapter of their design journey, their focus is ever more on inclusivity, responsibility, kinship and adaptation.

We took the time to talk to them about this new direction in design, asking what individual expression and the DB Berdan community means to them at a time when the industry and society faces one of its most significant challenges yet.

Congratulations on your SS21 collection, which we loved. It sees you moving into creating athleisure, but athleisure with that very distinct DB Berdan signature to it. What was your motivation for moving into this area?

Thank you so much. We are so happy to be back and working again. It really feels like a century ago, to be honest! So glad you liked it. Like everyone else on this planet, COVID-19 has affected our way of living and of course our way of wearing clothes. We wanted to keep our responsible aspect to our community by maintaining a more sterile position.

As we were moving around the city, we realised that we were choosing to wear things that would have a lesser chance of contamination, so it meant it has to be something that is more fitted to the body. So we realised what better way to wear athleisure to be tactile and agile while moving around and be comfortable at the same time. This was the main basis of our starting point. 

So the most essential part of choosing clothes now for us is functionality. That is pivotal. We now consider anything that does not have a function has the potential of contamination. We have 4 pillars when it comes to design factor; functional, trans-seasonal, sterile and ethical. Each outfit is made to be comfortable and tactical while moving around urban areas, working out or for relaxing at home. 

As society is forced to consider what is essential and important, do you feel that this move to functional clothing is one that is here to stay, or do think that post-pandemic there will be a desire to return to extravagant and flamboyant clothing, as there has been after previous world crisis and disasters?

It is very strange indeed now that it looks people have sort of divided into two groups, isn’t it? There’s one group that is trying to live as if it is their last day and dress to impress head to toe extravaganza. And then, there are the others who are somewhat survivalists which are trying to be as careful as possible.

It seems like it’s a great time to study the behavioural patterns of how psychology affects the way we get dressed. 

We really do feel to emphasise on the fact that everyone now is responsible for someone on the streets. It starts with wearing face masks and carries on with looking out for each other. Hopefully, we have learned that in the past 6 months.

You’ve described the collection as trans-seasonal. Prior to COVID-19, people were already talking about the environmental and social consequences of having four fashion weeks (if we also include the two men’s) per year. What are your thoughts on that?

We are so happy that seasons are now dead. RIP and hope to never see you again!

It was talked about a lot within a few seasons, and although by force of nature, we have all seen how seasons were causing everyone to consume more clothes than we ever needed. The worst impact is on the environment but also the pressure to make 4 or 6 seasons per year was also madness that we did not realise before the pandemic. No one needs that many clothes per year! 

We know that you used an all Turkish cast for the show. How important to you was it to showcase the skills and expertise of Turkish talent at a time when so many creatives are without work?

Times were pretty tough for all of us in the fashion industry, but the creative industry had it tougher than everyone. Especially the nightlife workers, which is most of our community. 

Our whole production line is made in Istanbul, and with the COVID-19 situation, we could not go there. So in this process, the celebrities and influencers that we were doing interviews with on Instagram live have supported us in our time of crisis. Now it is time for us to support our community. Our second show will take part in Istanbul, and we will be doing digital castings. 

You have always embraced multimedia and have harnessed it beautifully to produce your SS21 digital show. Do you think that post-pandemic there will still be a place for physical shows such as yours that bring the DB Berdan community together in such an immersive and inclusive way?

Oh! We loved those shows! The atmosphere, everything about it was absolutely amazing. But for the time being, it does seem worrisome. We really do feel like being cautious is better than putting everyone’s lives in danger just for the sake of 15 minutes of lights. We are sure the industry will find new ways to amp up the multimedia factor without putting others in danger. 

We’ve really enjoyed your IG Live interviews. How important at a time of physical distancing has it been to interact and keep that connection with the community? 

It was honestly making our day! It was like seeing our old friends and talking about the important issues with them that needed to be discussed was just so fabulous. It was sort like checking up on one another and keeping some kind of connection with each other. 

Thanks to you, we have some fabulous new athleisure wear to take us through the challenging months ahead. What are your tips for living a physically and mentally healthy lifestyle as we navigate these challenging times?

Oooh, thank you so much ^^ what we learned from this lockdown was whatever you do, even just for 7 minutes, you should do one physical activity. It really helps mentally to recharge yourself. The other thing that really helped was to do whatever makes you happy as long as it does not violate another being. The third one is to connect with your loved ones. Socialising responsibly is extremely important.   

Having successfully diversified into athleisure do you have any other forthcoming projects or exciting plans that you can share with us?

We really cannot make any long-term plans anymore, but we do have one project that we want to get going digitally. It’s going to be called Werk the Hallway, where we will be working with our community. It will be a pandemic-safe environment done in everyone’s homes. 

At this time of social and political upheaval, DB Berdan’s strong ethos will serve them well amidst the challenges ahead. It was an inspired move to produce a collection that explores cross-seasonal design, ethical practices and that promotes health and wellbeing through functional wear so fitting to our times. The fashion industry needs an overhaul, seasons are irrelevant. And this line’s versatility and bright, positive aesthetic are certain to have a lasting appeal that we are sure to see on the streets, in parks and even behind desks, for many years to come. How responsible, inclusive and positive is that?!

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