AMD Berlin professor for fashion Antje Drinkuth talks about What Women Want, reflecting on her personal fashion needs
As a professor for fashion at the AMD Berlin (Academy of Fashion and Design) Antje Drinkuth accompanies her students during the complete course of their studies. This includes anything from theoretical derivation to experimentation with forms. Debating the topic of fashion is intuitive for us: guided by years of personally acquired opinions, we revise these impressions as quickly as they were once formed during long discussions with valued colleagues. Or not. Which is why we’re curious to hear an academic approach to this seemingly omnipresent topic.
Recently Veronika and I hosted a dinner in Berlin together with Vestiaire Collective and we invited Antje to hold an impromptu talk. We’re very excited to share her smart ideas here today.
What Women Want
When Julia (hey woman!) and Anja (Vestiaire Collective) asked me give a talk on what women want – I began by asking myself: What do I want?
Concerning garments and must-haves the answer was very simple. This summer I have chosen an easy look: my favorite pair of jeans, a white men´s T-shirt or a blouse combined with high heels – I fell already in love with last summer – and at the last-season-sale I could afford them finally.
I am tired of too much fashion in one look at the present time. Isn´t it more about looking like a French woman leaving the house to buy a baguette quickly but wearing high heels cause you never know whom you will meet at the bakery store?
Isn´t one signature piece enough for one outfit especially in Berlin?
Let’s call it everywear—convenient at the office and even at a gallery opening after work—a relaxed combination of single pieces that are quickly upgraded by high heels and that make me feel
This image includes all the aspects I’d like to give you as an impetus for our conversation today:
Identity, icons and magic
Fashion is communication. It is a part, as well as an expression, of our identity. Our clothes are the most important non-verbal tool we have with which to communicate and to observe others with.
There is no identity without dialogue between humans. Identity is not fixed, it’s fluid.
“Fashion is essential for the constitution of cultural and individual identities and therefore anything but superficial. Fashion allows us to efficiently aestheticize ourselves and our life. Like dreams, it allows imaginary wish fulfillment. Fashion takes place in pursuit of the new, the unexpected, the unknown, often the bizarre. Paradoxically enough, that goal is often reached by way of imitation.” 1
Both consumption and shopping, especially when it comes to fashion, reflect a person’s individuality and lifestyle.
A human being’s appearance serves as a differentiator from others.
Clothes that are not easily available to the masses have greater value. This is the key to luxury goods.
“Rare objects are more popular with consumers who have a high need for individuality.”2
Shopping allows us to flee from reality into a world that seems desirable.
“The reasons for shopping might seem simple: acquiring goods that provide enjoyment, assist with everyday life and activities, or meet a cultural expectation. But the works of neuroscientists and consumer psychologists suggest that the motivations driving purchasing and consuming are more complex. (…) The motivation for almost everything we buy has something to do with connecting with other human beings” 3
There are numerous motives for shopping:
self-realization / group membership / status / uniqueness / nonconformity / emotional stimulation
I want to be like Sofia Coppola!
I want to look like my best friend!
I don’t want to wear the same dress as my students!
I need to reward myself for the hard work I’ve done!
I need to compensate for being love sick!
And so on…
The reason to shop is to express our aesthetic and
Lifestyle characteristic feature cultural and subcultural behavior patterns of individuals or like minded groups.
To fully understand the product itself, it is essential to confront yourself with the term “exclusivity”.
On the one hand you have the form and quality of products in the high fashion segment. On the other hand we have the brand image and picture of a woman, that the designer paints with his or her collection.
This explains why people are willing to spend up to 1.000 € for an upcycled pair of jeans.
Icons play a huge role in this game.
We adore their style, we want to be like them.
Icons are used to create an identity for an entire generation and they become a part of a global picture archive.
Let’s go back to that first image of a French women buying a baguette. Especially in Germany we adore the French attitude towards women’s style.
Are style icons of French women also French women—or is this a German thing?
In today’s fashion it is more important to project a certain style or image. Creativity and individuality are more important than status symbols.
A vintage piece could very well become the it-piece of tomorrow!
Fashion is moving at an incredibly rapid pace. However, there are always pieces that will last.
The favorite piece! Every one of us has it—our personal favorite piece!
It’s not easy to explain why we adore this one particular item, or to be aware of just how many, and what, memories are associated with it.
Favorite pieces are charged with emotions and play a surrogate role. They can also be the symbol for a particularly favored aesthetic.
Often this fascination already begins during childhood.
Or during the teenage years.
That’s me! When I was 18, with my beloved sweater. Unfortunately I gave it away to a charity store. Of course now, I would love to have it back!
“As we are entering a new decade, the fashion business, like the rest of the world, is encountering a significant economic and technological change.” 4
Fashion is not just about style and form anymore. Key words to consider in terms of trends and Zeitgeist are consciousness and sustainability!
“Luxury is becoming less about having, and more about being and doing.”5
During a dinner at a friends house several months ago, Veronika told me that she always gives away one piece away when she buys a new one, in order to keep her wardrobe under control.
I very much appreciate this mindset and copied it immediately—isn’t this the Vestiaire Collective spirit?
I’m very curious to hear from you today:
Who are your icons?
What is your favorite piece?
How many days, or just seconds, did it take you to make the decision to buy the shoes you’re wearing today?
Would you ever give them away?