Berlin meets Lahore – Lahore meets Berlin.
Shoe designs that tell a story: Soon we will be able to present such special sneakers to you in an Ethletic limited-edition. Designer Johanna Balzer explains how our long-distance cooperation between students from Lahore and Berlin was born and what we can expect from it.
“Creativity begins with curiosity. Design has a lot to do with sharing and openness, seeing things with ‘different’ eyes and through the eyes of others.”
If you send a designer around the world, this curiosity is aroused.
How do creative people work in this new place? What are they thinking? What do they ask about? What methods do they use? What motivates and inspires them?
And while we’re at it, instead of tackling these questions alone why not involve tomorrow’s creative minds right from the beginning?
That was what I thought, and so I began to meet people.
Berlin meets Lahore, Lahore meets Berlin.
I met Rohma Kahn and Imam Sheik. Both are teachers at the Beaconhouse University Lahore Department of Textiles, Accessories and Fashion Design. I suggested that we do a project together with Ethletic and students from Berlin.
The project should give insights into the design process practiced by the students in both cities and countries, and also into the stages involved in the design and production of a label rooted in both countries – Ethletic.
They loved the idea! In Berlin we also found partners who were just as passionate about it in Bianca Koczan and Dunja Kopi. These two ladies teach a fashion class at the HTW Berlin University of Applied Sciences, and they initiated a partner project with students from Berlin.
The student groups have now been working simultaneously on the project across two different continents. They discuss their questions and research on the issue of sustainability. They exchange mood boards, photos and suggestions in a closed Facebook group.
I’ve now visited both student groups and joined each of them on an excursion. I recently extended my scheduled stay in Pakistan and then joined the students there for a trip to the Ethletic sneaker production facilities in Sialkot.
Our production manager Zulfiqar was kind enough to give us all a guided tour through the factory for canvas shoes, footballs and clothing. With 15 years of experience under his belt, he had plenty to tell us! Later on Assad explained the concepts of Fairtrade and organic cotton and filled us in about our Workers Welfare Society.
One of the things we discussed was the fact that industry in Sialkot manufactures goods exclusively for export, not for the local market. We also talked about why there are no sustainable local labels. Assad graciously took on critical questions and emphasized how important it is for him that fair wages are paid, not just the minimum wage.
And I’ve saved the best for last:
All of the students are now working on their own freestyle projects with their individual focuses on sustainability. At the end of the semester each of them will create a surface print of an idea, a mood, which we will then print on a shoe. From that point, it’s up to you people out there to vote for one favorite shoe model from Lahore and one from Berlin. Ethletic will then produce a limited-edition run of these two shoe designs!
I’m excited about it – and you should be too!”