It all began…
…with linen bags from World War I, a radical idea, and the Eighties! When Clemens Dörr, founder and CEO of elemente clemente, was just fourteen, he began to develop an interest in sustainability. His uncle was among Bavaria’s early organic farmers and agricultural adviser to the newly established Green Party in 1980.
“My uncle, from very early on, made me aware of topics such as factory farming, conventional agriculture, and the massive usage of pesticides and fertilizers. Therefore, I am solely buying organic food ever since I was eighteen.”
Furthermore, Clemens Dörr’s father-in-law owned a second-hand fashion store and he was convinced that new things could be created out of old fabric. He obtained old French linen bags from World War I on a flea market and had them made into new individual items.
“When I became self-employed in 1988 with Kandis & Kandismann and designed my first men’s collection, I remembered the linen bags. I got in contact with the French government and they referred me to the storage, filled with unused linen bags.”
The idea to manufacture a collection out of those bags sounded incredible and revolutionary at the same time. Clemens Dörr bought 2.000 linen bags, fell in love with the excellent material, and started his first collection. It was a great success from the start and got distributed by well-known stores such as Ludwig Beck and Uli Knecht and it did not fall out of fashion ever since.
“On the streets, I still see people wearing items of our original collection because they are resilient and timeless. I am fascinated by linen cloths until this day.”
When Clemens Dörr founded elemente clemente in 2002, it was clear that sustainability would be crucial. Recycling and upcycling are important production principles for the team and they are being developed constantly.
“Before falling back on new resources, we should first think of what we can repair and revive to bestow used materials with a new value. A product should be manufactured in such a way that it can be put back into the cycle eventually.”
Therefore, any new elemente clemente collection follows the cradle to cradle principle as accurately as possible. This principle, developed by a German chemical analyst and an American architect, operates as a consistent goods-producing recycling economy.
“For example, we buy residue linen fabrics and design something new out of it. This means we think and work exactly the opposite way compared to the customs of the fashion industry. There, the design comes first, followed by the production of various types of fabric. We instead are looking for remnants and create exciting and new clothing items, the big advantage being that no new fabrics need to be made.”
With global warming on the move, these principles of production become ever more important for the whole world. Every step of the production line needs to be evaluated and checked. Mankind is just getting started with all of this, of course, which makes it even more important to visualize and to experience our high appreciation of fabrics and materials.
“In light of the particular issues of CO2 emissions, the fashion industry would be well advised in observing careful production processes. The Tunisian plant where the garments of elemente clemente are being manufactured generates approximately 70 percent of its energy demand. We donate one Euro for each sold elemente clemente item and five Euros for every Triple Eco Shirt distributed to the projects of Jane Goodall, who we hold in high esteem.”
The process of manufacturing 2.000 linen bags into sustainable elemente clemente fashion is much shorter than you might think because the original ideas of Clemens Dörr endure. It is about exceptional fashion combined with a transparent process of creation. Its beauty derives not only from firstclass materials but also from the story that comes along with it.