Bernd Keller - Designer, Inspiration, and Visionary.
Bernd Keller, who has previously worked as a manager for labels such as Hugo Boss and Marc O'Polo, has realized his personal dream with the Social Fashion Luxury Label 1C1Y - combining social engagement with responsibility for our environment and the highest quality and design standards. In the interview, he talks about working with 1C1Y, his personal journey, and his experiences in the fashion industry.
Through ARTHELPS, you promote creative support for children - what were your personal dreams and visions as a child?
I have always had an eye for aesthetics. At my mother's birthday, even the curtain suffered. As a four-year-old, I took the scissors and cut flowers into the curtains. I thought it was beautiful. Later, I wanted to be an actor, pastor, or designer. Even at 56, I still see the child in me and still have a desire for the stage and mission. Who knows...
What brings you the most joy working with 1C1Y? What is especially important to you?
Fashion is my thing - I can't do anything else. At an innovative brand like 1C1Y, I have not only the opportunity to use talents meaningfully, but also to walk new roads. Unlike other brands, 1C1Y aims to give children hope and perspective through our work. I'm not a social worker, doctor, or priest, but as a designer, I can inspire people through aesthetics, to support the work of ARTHELPS by buying a 1C1Y piece. Our customers should enjoy the style and quality of our designs. This additional level makes a big difference and connects me and my colleagues in a very special way.
What is the essence of the brand for you?
1C1Y is Social Fashion. We connect the fun in fashion with honest commitment.
What were some thoughts behind SS23?
The Spring/Summer 23 collection is called "Workers of Hope". Behind it are workwear elements and destroyed details that meet urban and young elegance. Overalls and anoraks are combined with bermudas and tapered pants. The tonality remains neutral. So in addition to black and ivory, a warm palette of tobacco and sand is in the foreground. Special colour accents are deliberately set with the hopeful Red Sun over iconic knits. All of if very wearable in everyday life, a uniform with our special touch.
In a way it’s a homage to everyday heroes, like our customers, who try to make this world a better place. Just because there’s so much evil and wrong in this world doesn’t mean all is – there’s always hope and we can change so much if we keep on trying.
Where do you see 1C1Y in 5 years?
I measure our success with 1C1Y not only by happy customers, but also in the opportunity to care for more children in crisis areas.
Which milestone in your personal journey has influenced you the most?
I could mention professional highlights, which I also honestly enjoy. However, when asked about my personal journey, I also answer personally. It was the moment of failure. I had to file for bankruptcy with my own brand and realized that my own strength has limits. I learned to trust in God.
How do you personally feel about sustainable fashion? What are the problem areas in the textile industry and what can be done to solve them?
Our responsibility for the environment motivated me to become independent and leave my position on the board of a great company in 2018. The area of "sustainability" is very broad. It is about change and taking responsibility in development and production. All of this begins with the company's own will, marketing, and the customer's desire for change. Instead of criticizing others for their behaviour, we should learn to inspire with conviction, passion, and joy - without pointing fingers.
You have experienced the fashion industry in various facets - how important are transparency and credibility?
I often meet people who I unexpectedly see in new positions. Titles, business cards, and brands change. However, what remains are relationships. It is not only about achieving goals, but also about how we live and work together. I want to act passionately, credibly and transparently - whether as a design assistant or a board member.
Original Interview: Bernd Keller and Sweet Communication
All B/W Photos: ©Stefan Rappo
Polaroid: Eileen Jordan
Bottom Picture: Thomas Mandl