Natascha Loch is a Berlin fashion designer who specializes in knit-design. Born and raised in Eckenhaid, near Nürnberg, she moved to Berlin in 2001 to study fashion design. She established her own label in 2006. Since then, she has created more than six collections and has been participating at major fashion shows. Her designs can be purchased at several stores in Berlin and Vienna.
Her knitwear designs cater to “customers with a taste for the exquisite”; her collections include cashmere and silk wool dresses, cardigans and asymmetrical tops created for “women who are brave and curious, and who want to discover something new, comfortable, and uncomplicated in fashion.” Her collections are all inspired by thematic concepts (like solitude, nostalgia, phoenix, etc.) which she then transforms into beautifully flowing knit fabrics cut (without a pattern) into exquisite designs.
“My designs are inspired by a lot of things, but primarily I work with themes that I encounter in my work and daily life, but which others also can relate to and have to struggle with. With the latest collection, Codici – it’s all about codes and ways in which things are communicated, which unspoken codes exist, and of course, the knit-code translated into patterns.”
In her sixth semester of design school, she went on exchange to Milan and for the first time started to knit. She loved it so much that she decided to spend every free minute in the knitting lab of the fashion and design school, and taught herself a lot, and experimented, and finally presented a complete knitwear collection as her graduation project.
Today she divides her time between creating a new (winter) collection in her atelier, teaching fashion design workshops at Atrium, an art school in Reinickendorf, and working full-time as the assistant to the costume designer at Deutsche Oper Berlin (currently overseeing the design of costumes for the upcoming Macbeth opera).
Natascha is an insider of the Berlin fashion scene: “The expression ‘poor, but sexy‘ fits quite well in Berlin. There are so many different designers here and everyone can do their own thing – no other fashion scene is as big and diverse as Berlin’s. It has to do with the fact that Berlin is quite affordable, but unfortunately that also makes it really hard to sell fashion here, because the majority of people do not earn above average incomes. But perhaps it’s also about to change. In the 1920s Berlin was an avant-garde fashion capital of modernism. For the last two years, the media has been calling Berlin a fashion capital again. However, this is not widely apparent yet.”
In comparison to other cities (like Vienna, for example), “Berlin is wild, unorganized, young, chaotic, there are no set rules or regulations, and one has to organize and find everything oneself. Other cities and countries have organizations that establish set structures for trade shows. By now Berlin also has that with Premium and Berlin Fashion Week, but the other organizations in the rest of Germany and in Vienna are more established and have a well-known reputation. In this regard, Berlin is still very young, and because of that it is still not recognized as an equal partner. Berlin also doesn’t have much industry and the large companies only move here for image – because Berlin is hip – but most of the money is spent elsewhere, and even the orders are often placed at trade shows in Düsseldorf. In comparison to Vienna, Berlin has fewer people who are interested in spending their money on fashion, or participating in the fashion scene.”
When I asked her what she would recommend to other young, and up-and-coming designers, she replied: “That is a difficult question. There is a tendency to think that when things are going well, that it will stay that way, and that once one found a market niche and one’s customers, they will remain loyal. But then something unimaginable always happens. I would recommend that they bring a lot of motivation, start-up capital, and contacts right from the start. Someone to take care of the financial and marketing side of the business, or a mentor, and they should also know exactly where their customers are. Also, there are certain products that are really hard to sell in Berlin. Print and accessories work quite well here.”
I first met Natascha in 2009, during my final research for Berliner Chic: A Locational History of Berlin Fashion. At the time, her collection was sold at the CUBE pop-up store in Schönhauser Arkaden mall, together with other local designers, like Hypnosis, etc. The store no longer exists, but all of the designers continue to create new collections and sell them at various stores in Berlin.
Susan Ingram and I dedicated our book to the women of Berlin, who wear, make, collect, archive, and curate fashion in Berlin, and who dedicate their lives to making Berlin chic. Natascha is part of Berliner Chic – her talent, motivation, dedication, and hard work are inspiring.
Here is a look at her latest collection, Codici (photos by Rene Fraissinet):