This blog was published on the Roundtable Journal blog.
Bored of mainstream clothing and determined to stand out from the crowd, Berlin-based fashion designer Sheila Ilz Van Hofen started her label, ALLES Berlin, in 2013. Created to serve the city’s club scene, the essence of Berlin is woven into the brand’s DNA. Sheila puts a middle finger up to mass production and exploitation, and aims to be inclusive to all. The word ‘alles’ literally translates as ‘everything’.
Her pieces cut across identity lines, uniting people from all races, genders and sexual identities under one pulsating beat. “I would like ALLES Berlin to be for everybody who feels like wearing it,” she says. “Whether you like to go to parties or you just like to play around with fashion in your daily life. No matter what gender you identify with, or what size you are. I think ALLES is for people who are extroverted and a bit exhibitionist, who like to show off what they have.” The moment she realised her vision had legs? “When I saw a customer who didn’t think they could ‘pull off’ one of my bodysuits put it on and leave the pants off!” It’s that exact confidence, that moment of liberation, that ALLES is striving to share.
Instead of abiding by seasons, Sheila makes new pieces whenever inspiration strikes. Most of the time, inspiration comes from the people around her, in clubs or on the U1 train. By producing in low quantities and testing the waters before making more, Sheila has been able to reduce waste and stay creative. Selling her clothes on Depop as opposed to a traditional shop has also allowed Sheila to stay connected to her customers. This connectivity and ongoing conversation is at the heart of all ALLES does. ‘A few weeks ago, a guy ordered a bodysuit for his girlfriend and – whilst messaging about sizes etc. – we realised we were going to the same house party! So we got the chance to meet up and party together and I got to see how gorgeous his girlfriend looked in my brand. Encounters like these motivate me to keep going.’
By using an online platform like Depop, Sheila can reach beyond her home city, an opportunity previously denied to fledgling designers. This shoot, RED LOBSTER, was a collaboration with her friend Lisa Müller, who she met on Instagram. After working together on a lookbook over summer, the pair decided to take the club kid aesthetic of Berlin to the streets of London. Sheila remembers, ‘we had a lot of funny encounters with everyday people, who tried to give us tips on how to style the model’s hair or on how to pose.’ But that’s the ALLES mentality: creative expression for everyone, influenced by everyone.