I came across this Berlin-based label Manakaa Projectwhen I searched for the hashtag #sustainableluxury on Instagram. Because there are some eco-fashion labels, which are quite cool, but I wondered whether there are any sustainable fashion labels to be found in the luxury segment.
Manakaa impresses with its timeless design, with clean, reduced cuts. I love the contrast between the monochrome designs and the bead embroidery. The collection includes silk blouses, Kashmir sweaters, sweaters, bomber jackets, and track pants. While the pieces are quite a casual fit, the pearls add a touch of glamour. The bead patterns are monochrome and elegant, without frills. In addition, there are silk scarves without pearls but with the graphic bead pattern typical of the label. The silk is, of course, from sustainable non-violent Ahimsa silk production, in which the caterpillars survive, because they hatch before the cocoon is processed into silk. As far as possible, all materials used are GOTS certified.
A visit to the studio of Manakaa Project
The showroom of Manakaa Project is located in the beautiful Giesebrechtstraße in Charlottenburg. When I visited in the summer, Valerie and Stefanie had just successfully implemented their temporary pop-up store together with other sustainable fashion labels from Berlin. They have teamed up with fashion brands Nove, Julia Leifert and Worldpearlslove to show and sell the collections together. I am always happy when I see great women supporting each other. In this case, the selection is fantastic:
Julia Leifert creates minimalist timeless looks that she has produced in and around Berlin. Janina of Nove designed arguably the chicest maternity collection, which also looks good before and after pregnancy. And Carlotta and Carsten of WORLDPEARLSLOVE design dresses, belts, and ponchos made of vintage fabrics, such as tunics made of tablecloths. Valerie and Stefanie show me the whole studio and tell me the story of every single brand. I admire the collections and listen to the interesting story of Manakaa Project. Because here every production step, every material is carefully thought out and selected.
From social project to sustainable fashion label
Manakaa stands for “pearl” in Hindu and describes the traditional Indian art of bead embroidery. Owners Stefanie Blanik and Valerie Thiesmeyer came to learn about it thanks to a sustainable project of a friend in India. When the project comes to an end, Stefanie calls Valerie and tells her enthusiastically about the beading technique. They fly together to India to see the craftsmanship on site. Because they are immediately convinced about the talent of the bead-workers, they decide to design a collection. Thus, the Indian workers keep their jobs and Valerie and Stefanie have the guarantee of excellent quality.
The beaders cover each garment with noble Japanese glass beads. These are applied pearl by pearl in simple embroidery frames according to the traditional method. In order to keep the transportation effort as low as possible, only those fabric parts that are also to be filled with beads are processed in India. The garments are then sewn together in Berlin.
Valerie and Stefanie have succesfully transferred the traditional art of bead embroidery into a modern design context. The result is a beautiful timeless collection you’ll fall in love with.