German Label GmbH Makes Anti-Fascist Jeans

By
Photography Kuba Ryniewicz

Published August 14, 2019

All Clothing and Accessories by GMBH.

Although the denim trouser has been the meat and potatoes of men’s dressing for decades, we are still discovering its full expressive potential. We have seen jeans ripped. We have seen them doused in acid and lashed with whiskers of bleach. We have seen them boot-cut, shrink-wrapped, and low-rised well past the point of civility. But in the hands of GmbH, the MVP of menswear has taken on a new role.

Since 2016, the Berlin-based label has produced jeans inspired by Turkish oil wrestlers and German carpentry guilds, with details such as double front-zips that feel both deeply fetishistic and truly utilitarian. GmbH’s newest offering carves out form-fitting plaits along the pant, providing the impression of a strangely sexy, insect-like exoskeleton. “The silhouette and construction come from the point of view of enhancing and protecting the body,” says GmbH’s co-founder Serhat Isik. “It has almost armor-like cuts.”

Beginning with its FW18 collection, which incorporated chain-mail accents, GmbH has deployed armor as a leitmotif that carries through into sportier protective items like polarized sunglasses or cinch-waisted waterproof jackets. For the label’s co-designers, Isik and Benjamin Alexander Huseby, who are Europeans of Turkish and South Asian descent, respectively, the gesture is an open response to the rise of xenophobic populism in Germany and beyond. “We talk a lot about the strategies our parents teach us to survive in this environment,” says Huseby. “It resonates from that experience of not belonging, and always having to prove your existence.”

Many have touted GmbH as the unofficial uniform of Berlin’s club culture, but it would be more accurate to describe what they make as to-and-from-the-club clothing. While the German capital’s bunker-like discotheques are safe havens for some of the freest forms of sexual expression, many are located within spitting distance of the country’s most ultra-right voting districts. At the moment, the collective is hard at work on the inaugural issue of the GmbH Anthology, a series that will repurpose the anti-fascist statements of its clothing for print. “The first one is called ‘Atlas,’” Huseby says. “It’s like National Geographic from a brown perspective, without colonialism.”

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“With this collection, the materials were thicker and sturdier, and a lot more obviously protective. Our new collection is going to be much softer and more sheer, but with protective symbols. So it’s protective in a more symbolic, spiritual way.”

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“These single-zip trousers come from the point of view of wanting to enhance and protect the butt and crotch.”

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“The collection where we began specifically working with armor was ‘My Beauty Offends You,’ which was designed in the period when we realized [Donald] Trump was becoming president. Fascism was clearly on the rise around the world, so that was the first time we articulated armor as something common to us all.”

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Model: Ibraham Van Den Berg at Models1
Grooming: Brady Lea at The Only Agency
Casting: Cicek Michelle Brown
Photography Assistant: James Allen
Fashion Assistant: John Handford
Grooming Assistant: Judit Florenciano