Nina Elyas and Tays Koeper-Kelemen are the duo behind the ethical slow fashion brands platform called Style & the Gang. We e-met several months ago and the fashion empathy started immediately since we both share same vision and interest for emerging talented designers. Read our Q&A to learn something more about their project and fashion point of view.
Q.: Tell us more about “Style & the Gang”: where does the name come from? who’s the gang?
Nina: Style and the gang is a discovery platform for independent ethical fashion brands around the globe. Our focus is on defined values: social commitment, the support of local artisans, sustainability, the preservation of cultural handicrafts and heritage, upcycling and design – design is very important to us, which is why we are looking for something extraordinary and not interchangeable.
Tays: We are a network, not lone warriors. And we want the brands and users that are moving with us to see us as a family and a community. After all, everyone stands up for ethically correct fashion and sustainable values. We’re not just style, we’re also a gang. Our gang is not mainstream, it is not mass-consumption – we had to look for and find them in different countries.
Q.: Have you always worked in fashion?
Nina: I have a diploma in fashion design and always worked in fashion (since 2007). As a designer, as a journalist, fashion director and honorary lecturer. In 2018, Tays and I founded Style & the gang.
Tays: It looks the same for me. After completing my master’s degree in language and marketing in 2007, I went straight into the fashion sector, where I’ve worked as a fashion journalist and stylist ever since.
Q.: What does fashion mean nowadays?
Nina: In the years of fast fashion dominance, fashion has become an unemotional consumer good. Superficial, interchangeable, quickly forgotten and without value. That is slowly changing again at the moment.
Tays: Inconsistency. I think fashion is moving towards more individuality these days, but often cannot let go of mass conformity. We should change that.
Q.: What kind of designers do you look for?
Nina: Truly creative, skilled designers who act with respect for people and the environment.
Tays: We want to support designers who share our philosophy and create unique one-of-a-kind pieces. No mainstream. No greenwashing. We are looking for personalities who have something to say about their fashion.
Q.: The most inflationated word in the fashion field is “sustainability”, what’s your point of view? Can fashion become sustainable at certain point?
Nina: That is a very difficult question. The term sustainability is very flexible and difficult to grasp, and not least for this reason it is a wonderful marketing term. In general, there is too much clothing, whether it is sustainably produced or not. That’s the biggest problem. Conscious consumption and the return of fashion to a long-lasting product with a relationship with the wearer could change a general attitude towards consumption. Vintage is just a result of too much clothing. Circular fashion is one approach that could break this vicious circle.
At the same time, we see sustainability not only in terms of nature, but also in terms of people. We also have a problem with humanity and fairness in our industry. And there is still a great need for change. That’s why we showcase those brands, who care for minorities or disadvantaged and vulnerable groups and give them real chances to change their lives.
Q.: Who would you like to collaborate with? and why?
Tays: We are very open-minded. When we are on an equal footing, we are very happy to cooperate with brands, people, shops and institutions. We intent to support small social entrepreneurs who deserve visibility and we stand for values. Therefore it is very important for us to find supporters and cooperation partners who share our values and help us to increase the visibility of our project – and first and foremost of our brands.
Q.: You are based in Germany, what’s the fashion mood there?
Nina: Partly good, partly not so good. It depends on the city (laughing). Germany is not a country that sees and promotes fashion as a cultural asset. You can feel and see that, and that reduces creativity and opportunities for talents.
Tays: Put it this way, in general we think the Germans can still learn from the Italians.
Q.: What piece of advice would you give to a new designer?
Nina: Now is your time. But not to launch a new collection of white organic cotton t-shirts, but to showcase design and uniqueness. Nevertheless, the whole thing always needs a competitive price. It would be very good to create synergies with other designers in the area of production in order to be able to offer attractive prices.
Q.: What are your followers looking for?
Tays: Fashion inspiration. Beautiful designs. Different point of views. New stories.
Q.: Have you ever thought about having your own brand?
Tays: Not yet. But who knows where our path will lead us. We will remain open-minded in the future, so stay tuned.
For more info visit styleandthegang.com