Namilia was founded in 2015 in Berlin, and since its conception, it established one priority, and that was to be provocateurs. The brand’s essence is a zeitgeist cultivated by the raging underground scene in Berlin.
Berlin is known for clubs which never close, where dirty techno beats reverberate through abandoned warehouses, nazi bunkers and power plants for days on end. The city has not stopped partying since the fall of the Berlin Wall. But, even before, West Berlin was a sanctuary for der Außenseiter.
Resounding through Berlin, techno became the parabolic sound of resistance, and the metropolis became an anarchist’s utopia. Raving is so inherently intertwined with the country’s DNA that the federal government declared these idiosyncratic havens cultural institutions.
Alternative fashion can always be traced to the underground. This is where light struggles to permeate as everything is cloaked in dusk. These niteries housed entire societies, all affiliated through shared marginalised identities. As a result, fostered within these walls were young mavericks imbued with creativity and an inexorable desire for expression. They did so through experimenting with their style, art and music.
A classic example of enacting fashion and social anarchy is the employment of fetish bondage elements in their ravewear.
Namilia Continues Their History of Rebellion
All of this encapsulates Namilia and the rationale behind their designs. Nan Li and Emilia Pfohl, the founders, believe in using clothing to characterise their beliefs and challenge social constructs to enact a ‘tribe of Namilia warriors’ that personify their mission of embracing feminine selfhood. Some of their noteworthy designs over the years are the Vulva Sleeves and Dickinis.
For their SS24 collection, they have decided to take their mutiny further to the realm of religion and blasphemy. Specifically, they defiled the Cross. The showcase has been titled ‘In Loving Memory of My Sugar Daddy’. Also, according to their website, it is a celebration of ‘the post-feminist Namilia hero’.
Edgy Echo Chambers
The brand defines itself as ‘rebels, provocateurs, destroyers of false perceptions’, and they proved my perceptions of them to be a hoax. Despite their initial well-intentioned entrance to the scene, this new collection of tactless clothing riddled with religious symbols has exposed them as sell-outs to a cause they once deemed sacrosanct.
Not only was this collection rife with disrespect, but it was also gauche, crude and cheap. The motivations behind these designs were blatantly obvious – it was all to get a reaction. It is a highly elaborate and vulgar attempt to galvanise awe for an insolent miscellany of rags sold as Vogue.
I will not comment on the designs or constructions out of principle, as the abstraction of their message is unworthy of praise. A behemoth Birkin with ‘TRAGIC’ plastered across it succinctly summarised my conviction about the collection. Jane Birkin passed away later that week, which was rather befitting. God rest her soul.
Maybe Nietzsche was right, and God is dead.
Namilia Is Taking It Too Far
Namilia’s mission is derailed due to their narcissistic desire to be provocative. As seen with many cheap stunts recently in fashion week, brands have sacrificed couth for shock factor. Many believe that inciting provocation equates them to being a provocateur. See the difference between a ‘provoker’ and a ‘provocateur’.
Religious iconography has been part of popular culture in many ways for many years. There has been a slight revival recently due to artists like Ethel Cain and Mirror Palais’ recent Catholic-inspired collection. In a world of art, religion has always been a force of inspiration despite all the ambivalence surrounding its practice. It is a topic that has puzzled many but saved millions for millennia.
Today’s prevailing existence attests to humans’ natural piety and humility to believe in a higher power.
Furthermore, how comfortable the West is with desecrating the Cross is curious and unsettling. If it were the Star of David or the Crescent and Star, there would be an adverse reaction across the board, but I digress. Namilia let slip their betrayal; they traded revelation for reaction, almost in a sell-one’s-soul way.
A Short-Sighted and Contradictory Synopsis
Namilia sanctimoniously declared a ‘post-feminist’ icon even though there is no ‘post-feminism’. An irony that was evident even within their synopsis of the collection, which goes on a diatribe about Western Europe’s gender inequality (I don’t know how they missed it).
The rise in the brandishing of overt sexuality in pop culture is a sign of feminism dying. There is a branch of feminist moral philosophy that deals with the theory of deformed desires. It questions how patriarchy can and has shaped women’s preferences and aspirations.
Daringly, it asks, should the oppressed resist oppression in unchanging ways or adapt to the confines of oppression to make their existence easier? And if they do so, to what extent do they become responsible for their oppression?
As men have objectified women for centuries, women attempt to gain a semblance of control by boasting autonomy over sexuality since they will be objectified either way. These all seem like complex and pedantic philosophical questions that can only be answered by feminists who have harboured years of experience and whose minds are ports for aeons of feminist literature. However, it is all quite simple, really and is something I find essential to draw light to.
All Women Should Question The Feminism Touted By Other Women (And Men)
This is not to say that women aren’t overtly sexual beings but rather to point out the dangers of echo chambers, which tout yet another one-dimensional view of women. Be wary of reclaiming power through sexuality when it is precisely sexuality that the world has weaponised to validate the exploitation of women.
There is a surprisingly apparent logical fallacy within this type of empowerment once you step back from internet discourse.
Question whether the excessive normalisation of overt sexual expression has given women a false sense of autonomy, conditioning us to be compliant and desensitised to objectification. Consider that the patriarchal systems which have shaped our mentalities for millennia may have blighted our desires.
In an asinine attempt at virtue signalling, Namilia revealed how clueless they are about everything they claim to stand for. The prognosis of this collection is that the Namilia poster girl will get what she fucking deserves.
I am not religious myself, but I do value humility. The culture of possessive individualism marketed by these quasi-revolutionaries does not entice me. Frankly, this was an embarrassing and irresponsible collection, and judgment day has come early, whether Namilia believes in it or not.
Absolutely embarrassing pic.twitter.com/BiOs8WVrlb— deepwebegirl 5’7” IQ 187 (@deltaovvenus) July 17, 2023
Namilia wants to commemorate their new army of feminist representatives: ‘bimbo sugar babies, glamourous trophy wives and villainous vixens…deadly it-girls’. Yet Namilia coerces us to oversimplify these women by implying their status is only derived from their relationship with men – sugar babies, trophy wives, vixens.
I mean, even the notorious trophy wife, Anna Nicole Smith, was known to be much more complex than that, for God’s sake. Namilia wants to embrace the Madonna/Whore complex, meaning you don’t have to be either or, for once you can be both! The way Namilia wants to coax us aboard their feminist mission is through profane clothing that desecrates Christianity.
I fear that anti-intellectualism will kickstart the seven trumpets of revelation.
Aside from the diversity, nothing about the messages behind this collection is commendable nor conducive to the cause they now pretend to heed. Not only will I have to harbour the memory of this collection forever, but I will probably also never check out Berlin Fashion Week ever again.
Misty Lamb is a contributing writer at SSEDITORIAL who imparts a fresh perspective contemplating fashion and its place in the modern world.