GmbH is the standard legal acronym for a limited company in Germany, but there is nothing either limited or corporate about the maverick Berlin-based fashion label that adopted that tag. ‘We didn’t like the combination of our names,’ says Benjamin Alexander Huseby, who co-founded the brand with Serhat Isik, ‘so we decided to be nameless.’ The utilitarian moniker also nods to the city’s anti-fashion attitude. ‘Berlin has this element of being anti-corporate, and against the mainstream,’ says Huseby. ‘That is also how we think about things.’
The GmbH studio is located in a large industrial building in Kreuzberg, which also houses the techno club Ritter Butzke – a rare reminder of the district’s wilder days, as most other nearby spaces are being turned into luxury flats. ‘It has been a building site since we moved in a year ago,’ says Huseby. ‘It’s quite stressful. But it kind of adds to our aesthetic.’ For this, think traditional workwear, such as a fitted take on German carpenter trousers, in vintage, deadstock and club-friendly materials such as reflective polyester.
When the first collection, named after the techno anthem ‘When A Thought Becomes You’, launched in 2016, it was immediately picked up by Opening Ceremony. Last year, GmbH was shortlisted for the LVMH Prize for young designers. ‘It’s the casual approach and sophisticated shapes that make the designs feel exciting,’ says Herbert Hofmann of Berlin’s Voo store. ‘Their diverse customer base is inspiring too.’
GmbH’s founders are nothing if not diverse: Huseby was born to a Norwegian mother and Pakistani father and grew up in the Scandinavian countryside; Isik is a first-generation German of Turkish descent who was raised in the industrial Ruhr area. When mutual friends introduced them on a club’s dance floor, Isik had just left Berlin collective Bless and was working on his own menswear label. Huseby was a fashion photographer, shooting for respected magazines and brands. ‘I saw that together we could realise some of our ideas quite easily,’ he explains.
The duo is interested in the utilitarian clothes they see on their friends or on the street. They subvert these everyday looks into what they call ‘idealised’ pieces. Their A/W17 collection showed cropped blousons built from cut-and-sewn vintage Helly Hansen puffer jackets, and high-waisted patchwork cargo pants that were instant hits.
Although GmbH offers plenty of looks for partygoers, clubwear isn’t the only source of inspiration. Instead, there’s a strong autobiographical theme. The starting point for the duo’s S/S18 offering was their fathers’ dress codes. Isik’s father was a mine worker; Huseby’s worked in a video store, and was obsessed with flashy 1980s Italian fashion. Respectively, they inspired fleece jackets (as worn for cold, early morning starts) and the gold Cupro or silver viscose and linen mix that runs through the collection.
As originally featured in the April 2018 issue of Wallpaper* (W*229)