An Interview with the Deadstock Berlin-based Label Joana Christina

vor 3 years

There is an important term in the world of sustainable fashion: deadstock

Deadstock refers to old fabrics that haven’t been able to sell. In this case, one person’s trash is another’s treasure: Joana and Regina of the Berlin-based label Joana Christina use unwanted materials to handcraft bags, knitwear, and more. Maybe you’ve already spotted their best-selling Pillow Bag on your IG feed? If not, learn all about their conscious approach to designing here.

When did you have the idea to start the label?

I previously studied fashion design here in Berlin. During my studies, a lot of leftover fabrics accumulated and at the beginning of 2020 that inspired me to make those first bags as a private project. The positive response and feedback gave me inspiration to keep being creative. At the end of last year, I brought Regina into the team. We got to know each other while studying fashion design and we always valued each other’s projects right from the start. Together we want to expand and enrich the product groups.

Your first design was the Mountain Bikini, what is the inspiration behind this piece?

It was created during my graduation collection. The athleisure collection was related to sustainability and home. I shot the landscape print myself in Bavaria. Regina and I both originally come from Southern Germany and feel very connected and inspired by the nature and landscape there. We’re really looking forward to being able to offer the bikini again this spring. There will be other pieces with the mountain print available as well.

What else inspires your designs?

We are inspired by many things, through encounters in everyday life, but also through materials and their structures and how they feel. The main idea behind the pillow bag was to make a leftover material more attractive by changing the surface. Our love for secondhand clothes also plays a major role and the tension that arises to put together something that already exists into a new context.

How long did it take you to develop the Pillow Bags?

That was a long process. We tested and adjusted the bags over and over again. Every material also behaves differently. Overall, it took us maybe 2 months to be completely satisfied with the size and shape of the pillow shoulder bag. The idea for the Mini Pillow Bag came to us spontaneously last summer. It was very well received and is now one of our most popular bags.

How long does it take to sew one bag?

The process takes up to two hours in total. This includes selecting and cutting the materials as well as the entire sewing process.

What things do you carry in your pillow bag every day?

We built in elastic into the pillow bags, so even if they look small, they can usually fit much more than expected. We use the Mini Pillow Bag when we only want to take the most important things with us: cell phone, wallet, keys and maybe a lip balm. A book and a small bottle, for example, also fit into the regular-sized pillow shoulder bag.

Where do you find the deadstock materials? What are your selection criteria?

Before the pandemic, we obtained our materials from deadstock sales. We also went to flea markets and secondhand shops a lot. Last year, we had to adjust the process and now we get many of our fabrics online and of course from our own stock. When making the selection, we pay attention to a low synthetic content in the material composition, if possible. The feel and the originality of the fabric are also important to us, as well as the condition and amount of the material- whether it would be enough for more than one bag.

If you only use deadstock, how commercially can you work? Does it limit the design process?

This concept limits the number of pieces but it enriches the design process enormously. However, since each product has to be treated individually, some processes take more time than the others, such as taking the product photos, or if some materials require special processing. Nevertheless, this way of working offers great possibilities and is also very attractive for us as designers because there are more diverse approaches. The focus is on individuality when the number of pieces is kept lower. That’s a lot of fun. It can also be more responsive to customer needs than a commercial label. For example, when we notice that a certain pattern or color (currently blue checked) works well, we can act quickly by specifically looking for materials in current demand, using them directly and being able to offer them at the next drop.

Which other sustainable aspects do you pay attention to?

When cutting, we make sure to produce as little scraps of fabric as possible in order to use the material efficiently. This is easy to implement thanks to the rectangular cut pieces. If we are able to get hold of larger quantities of a material, we can sometimes also offer bags as MADE TO ORDER. This way the customer’s product appreciation increases and it also promotes the product life cycle. In general, our processes allow us to respond to customer demand and avoids production volumes that are too large and too wasteful.

You recently expanded your collection with knitwear. Anything else you would you like to try out?

Knitting opens up completely new, sustainable ways by using leftover yarn and knitting all parts in shape. This means that there are no cuttings left – just a few remaining threads that can easily be used for packaging or to be further processed in something else. A knitted surface is also easily repairable. In general, we want to expand the product range for spring and summer without losing our focus on bags. We do this because it’s exciting to see how all Joana Christina products come together in new combinations and styles. In addition, new products can be combined with existing ones, which supports the basic idea of ​​the label.

How important is Instagram for smaller labels like yours?

Instagram offers the possibility of great reach and of “being discovered” directly by the customers. Instagram is a media through which content can be distributed quickly and easily. We also hope that our work will inspire others. The trend to support small designers and labels is also supported by Instagram, where we can communicate directly with our customer base. Instagram is also a good means of querying and measuring demand and can be easily built on.

You can find products Joana Christina products online here
Photos Courtesy of
Joana Christina
Models Camille and Yannick
Interview by Hannah Sulzbach

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