Fashion designer Anja Gockel has invited athletes and fellow members of the Special Olympics movement to her Berlin studio to design a new t-shirt in an inclusive workshop. We are proud to announce that the t-shirt is now available in our webshop. It is bright, colorful and diverse, just as inclusion is.
To better get to know the designer, we did an exciting interview with her for you.
Anja, for over 25 years you have been one of the most successful German designers. You worked for the legendary Vivienne Westwood and have been awarded numerous prizes. What inspires you to this day about fashion and your profession?
My profession still inspires me today because we design our fashion with a lot of heart and passion. My goal is to make the charisma of women shine with every piece of my collection. Because I believe that us women need a little support, even though we are so strong ourselves. and fashion is perfect for that. It fills me with incredible joy to make us women shine, because fashion can make us visible and strong. I want to make sure that no woman in an Anja Gockel dress is overlooked.
What role do you think diversity and inclusion play in fashion? Has anything changed in recent years?
Diversity and inclusion now play a big role in fashion. My fashion aims to make every women feel good in her skin, regardless of her age, her origin or her physical/intellectual disabilities.
In recent years, a lot has happened in the fashion world and many companies have evolved. Nevertheless, I think that society still has a lot of work to do to create structures that enable everyone to be an equal part of society.
Our goal is to bring together as many people with and without disabilities as possible, in sports, but also in other areas. For example, our logo as well as our webshop were developed together with athletes. We call this "Unified". you developed a very special t-shirt together with three Special Olympics employees with disabilities. how was this experience for you? what impressed you the most?
It was a touching experience for me. The calmness that the athletes radiated is something we miss so often in our everyday life. I was impressed by how focused they were and how they didn't think about anything else - their clarity and joy were wonderful.
Get a glimpse into the collaborative development of the t-shirt.
Did you already have personal experience with people with mental disabilities before? If yes, in which environment?
Yes I have - the daughter of a very good friend has trisomy 21. She is very self-confident and very educated and masters her life. And yet you can feel that integration into society is difficult for her, too - she wants to be integrated into the normality of our society and realizes that this is not yet possible.
Sustainability is also particularly important to us at Special Olympics. That's why we were particularly pleased to hear that you were named one of the 30 most sustainable companies in Rhineland-Palatinate in 2020. What does sustainability mean to you?
For me, sustainability means appreciating people and things. My employees have been working for me for an average of 12 years. We produce our collection in Germany and mainly use fabrics from Italy and Spain. I use up the fabrics, for example, and use the leftover pieces for scarves and accessories. I don't use real leather and furs at all, and faux skins are increasingly made from recycled polyester. I also avoid used-look effects. These are very harmful to the environment, because they can only be created with a lot of chemicals and water. with all these steps, sustainability becomes a very natural part of our everyday life.
Many of our athletes are very interested in fashion - at least in sports fashion. What role does sport play in your life? Do you like to do sports, and if so, which ones?
My husband and i practice yoga for half an hour every morning. It has been changing our lives three years now. We are much clearer and more open throughout the rest of the day. I consider sports to be a very important factor of balance in order to master our lives.
And finally, of course: which products (apart from your collection) from our webshop do you like the most?
thank you anja for the exciting interview!