Cloed Priscilla Baumgartner is the clever and stylish designer behind the eco-friendly label MILCH, and the owner of YPPIG Eco Fashion Showroom at Yppenmarkt, a trendy marketplace in Vienna’s 16th district. MILCH was established in 2000, and symbolizes the recycling cycle of nature (transformation from grass to cow to milk).
Cloed is self-taught and has been sewing from an early age. She always used recycled fabrics and materials, which led her to the unique concept of using old recycled men’s suits, trousers, and dress shirts to create original and funky dresses, blouses, shorts, skirts, and hats. Thus each piece carries a history of the city, and of previous Viennese owners.
Cloed is well-established and very engaged designer in Vienna. In 2003, together with her friend Jasmine Ladenhaufen, she established Modepalast, an annual direct-buy fashion trade show, which has grown from 200 to 3000 square meters of exhibition space for more than 160 established and young designers from Austria, Berlin, and Eastern Europe. Most designers make about 10% of their annual income at Modepalast; it allows many to start their own shops, and many make their first successful sales there.
Jasmine and Cloed started out with an “underground mobile boutique,” a mini-mobile pop-up shop that could be set up at trade shows, in museums, on the street, etc. Initially, they had ten participating designer who displayed their collections in the mobile boutique between 2000 and 2003. Modepalast grew out of the mobile boutique as a more permanent, annual event, first held in the Museumsquartier, and now in MAK – Museum für Angewandte Kunst (Applied Arts Museum). Modepalast now has 40 designers who do eco fashion (out of 160, and up from 20 last year).
A unique element about the Vienna fashion scene is the strong sense of community and support network among the local designers, boutique owners, and PR networks. The designers not only support each other, but also help out young designers, photographers, and even bloggers who are just starting out. Cloed plays a key role in this network system: she organizes and manages a listserv where designers can exchange information; she invites young, starting-out designers to sell their clothes in her show room and showcases their work to her clients; she encourages already established designers to switch to organic, recycled, and fair trade fabrics (“to make the world a little better”); she is very involved in organizational activities, projects, and events to promote local designers, and she is proud of this “alternative” network (not subsidized by the city, but nonetheless successful and useful).
Next time you’re in Vienna, check out Cloed’s boutique (open every Saturday) right next to the organic farmers’ market at Yppenplatz!