Rave Clothing Roots: Berlin 1990
Pick 5 different music genres, any genres at all, and then take a look at the fans of each one. What you will instantly see is that there appears to be a dress code of sorts for each specific style of music. There have been fashion movements born through the release of a single piece of music, many of which have received more press than others. One such movement tool place in Berlin in the 1990’s, but there is a pretty good chance that you missed it if you weren’t part of the burgeoning rave scene that was taking place in the city back then.
The Rave Clothing Genesis
Millions of kids across Germany became part of the rave explosion, but no-one could deny that the epicenter was in Berlin. All told, the young people who dove head first into the rave scene did so with a buying power somewhere in the range of five billion Deutschmarks. That was a lot of money to spend on fashions that fit the scene like a glove, and spend they did.
Frank Schütte was one of the men who were front and center in the 90’s rave scene in Berlin, thanks to the fashions available through his 3000 clothing label. If the name doesn’t sound familiar, it may be because he now goes by Frank Ford. Back then, though, everyone looking to stand out while they danced the night away did so in clothing fashioned by Schütte. Alongside designer Stefan Loy, Schütte crafted skirts from plastic bags, and evening gowns emblazoned with slogans which, though tame by today’s standards, where perceived to be borderline offensive. Not one to shy away from the fashion trends that he was creating, Schütte could be seen dressed in fishnets and haute couture, all while partying and creating new collections in relatively small runs. That many of the creations made at the time were done while tripping on acid , news that really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who saw the creations Schütte and Loy delivered.
While decades apart, the raver kids had more in common the flower children of the 60’s than they probably cared to admit. Not only did they push the boundaries of acceptable fashion, they also did it in a way where they could dress to dance while still feeling naked and free. The clothes they wore were awash in neon, and were made of synthetics and plush materials, all matched with platform shoes.
Boutiques like Groopies had a tough time keeping up with the demand for the latest fashions. They carried a number of brands that the ravers identified with, with Patricia Field being in particularly high demand. Boots and bags made of patent leather and fur started arriving from all the major fashion capitals of the world on a daily basis. Wicked Garden was another store that was very much part of the scene, although that particular location grabbed a few more headlines due to the fact that TV stars and top DJ’s were regular shoppers there. Before long, German labels were hanging side with top brands from London. German label Sabotage really upped the game by adding ceramic fibers to wool shirts that allowed the material to breathe while the beats per minute made the ravers dance faster and harder.
There were a number of other labels – Asprial, Panis & Hams, and Jörg Pfefferkorn – contributing to the colorful craze of the early 90’s. The style created in those early days were adopted by international designer, and it wasn’t long before the techno clothing went from low rent to high fashion on the runways of the world. The style was starting to evolve, and the neon styles of the early days of the raver movement were replaced by more functional, loose-fitting garb more suited to dancing. The music survived for a little while longer, but the fashion fad passed, with track pants and hoodies quickly becoming the uniform of the club crowd.
The labels responsible for the colorful fashions soon realized they had to evolve in order to stay relevant, which meant Sabotage ditching the ceramic laced fabrics in favor of rather ordinary looking styles, which were a whole lot more affordable. By the time these changes started taking place, Schütte had fled the scene, with many claiming he had done so with his pockets lined with gold. Frank Ford is the name he used to resurface over a decade later, and the fashions that he put together then were worn by the likes of Cher and Britney Spears. Low-rent fashions were in style again, and the divas were lining up to buy, just like the raver kids were back in 1990’s Berlin.