Fashion + Function = JW x GmbH

When a collaboration builds on shared values, and when the expectations towards design and function complement each other perfectly, the result becomes unique – and in the best case, makes it immediately onto the must-have shortlist of early adopters. The collaboration between Jack Wolfskin and Berlin-based fashion collective GmbH has resulted in a collection that will delight fans of both brands equally.

The fashion world has been obsessed with outdoor wear for a while now. The urban fashion scene has been fully embracing functional details, but also, the less trend-oriented consumer group is increasingly looking for durable and sustainable products. So for a few years, we have seen sherpa fleece jackets with hiking sandals, bucket hats and balloon silk, large flap pockets and rubberized zippers everywhere on the streets but also in music videos. The trend gushes into the mainstream like ramen soup and natural wine, sweeping everybody off their feet.

fashion tent

But a trend never comes out of the blue. It is triggered by a collective mood (or sometimes a single, well-planned influencer photo). It filters through the ether of youth culture and spreads to even younger but also older generations. And just like that, everyone is suddenly wearing fanny packs and tennis socks, in the schoolyard and at the vernissage. In this case, the collective mood is easy to identify and interpret: a diffusion of private and professional or respective school life in all areas, coupled with a rekindled desire for nature and the outdoors. Home office and homeschooling are our new reality, and a functioning work-life balance seems more crucial than ever. Work, school, sports, and leisure activities are no longer integrated into everyday life like building blocks but flow seamlessly into one another. As a result, it’s not uncommon to see people holding their conferences and calls via headphones in the park, maybe even speed walking while at it.

fashion group jw

While this urban subculture is mainly celebrated in cities, you can also spot the fashionable activewear crowd in the countryside trekking through and camping in meadows and forests on the weekends. The revived hiking euphoria meets a rural exodus and a new desire for outings caused by the pandemic. This brings us to truly thoughtful and functional sports and outdoor wear, but style is key here. Without the right look, the whole construct wouldn’t work. The trend wouldn’t be a trend but either banal physical activity or self-neglect in sweatpants. 

jack wolfskin gmbh jackett

Everybody wants to be out in the elements. But properly equipped and looking sharp, of course. 

Considering this important interplay, it is less surprising that two brands that seem worlds apart, such as Jack Wolfskin and GmbH, came together for a collaboration. At first glance, the only aspect that the two brands have in common is their German origins. Jack Wolfskin was founded 40 years ago in Frankfurt am Main and has become Europe’s most popular outdoor brand. GmbH’s story began after a chance encounter at a Berlin club in 2016. Meanwhile, the label has become Berlin’s hottest fashion export. The crystal-clear connection, however, is the focus on sustainability. While Jack Wolfskin has always focused on durable outdoor wear, functional equipment, and is striving to achieve harmony with nature, GmbH started out processing high-quality textile remnants from the fashion industry in Milan and has been drawing attention to political, social, and global issues ever since. Their style is sexy and modern, the craftsmanship of high quality and the message blunt. With their upcycling idea and the sophisticated results, the subversive fashion collective quickly gained attention, far beyond the status of a cult label. The two designers Serhat Isik and Benjamin Alexander Huseby, show their collections at Paris Fashion Week, win young designers awards, and are celebrated by international fashion critics, including the US and French Vogue, the New York Times, and Business of Fashion (BoF). 

jw gmbh shirt

Jack Wolfskin, on the other hand, has cultivated a decades-long tradition of collaborations. “For the 40th anniversary, we wanted to work with somebody that seemed unexpected but who represents trust and acceptance,” says Mokhtar Benbouazza, Jack Wolfskin’s VP of marketing and digital. “Knowing that GmbH utilizes deadstock, recycled and organic materials as a comment on the fashion industry’s affair with overconsumption made it easy to find common ground for the collaboration.”

For Jack Wolfskin, responsible production and protecting the environment have always been a priority – long before high-street chains had to painstakingly revamp their image through recycling campaigns. “Fewer products that last a long time” has always been Jack Wolfskin’s response to a growing throwaway society. 

jack wolfskin blanket

For the founders of GmbH, Isik and Huseby, another important motivation for the collaboration is to increase the representation of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) in the fashion world. As children of Turkish and Pakistani immigrant families, diversity, integration, and acceptance are particularly important to them. 

As creative patrons, the two designers dove into the 40-year history of Jack Wolfskin: from its founding by marketing student Ulrich Dausien, who got into the textile business after a spontaneous inspiration on a trip to Alaska, to its status as the number one outdoor brand in Europe.

The result is a unique capsule collection that not only feeds on shared values but also quite obviously hits the zeitgeist in terms of fashion. The style is very refreshing but not loud, with structural cuts and attention to detail. Throughout the collection, a specifically designed pattern reoccurs. It is a metamorphosis of both brand logos, the famous Jack Wolfskin wolf paw and the mining sign of hammer and chisel that GmbH claim for themselves. As a colored print, it adorns jackets, scarves, and linings. Quilted, it embosses a spectacular two-piece – the absolute highlight of the collaboration. 

rolling blanket gmbh

The collection combines Jack Wolfskin’s patented performance wear technology with the fresh design skills, eye-catching color, and print design of the young Berlin brand, thus effortlessly blending outdoor and high fashion. It features soft fleece scarves, a parka and a bomber jacket, a quilted suit consisting of a shacket and pants with detachable elements, a sherpa jacket, merino wool sweaters and T-shirts with a newly interpreted wolf print, functional shirts, two-toned workwear pants, a tarp, an asymmetrical backpack, and even a tent. The reduced color palette of creamy white, black, sage, cool lilac, and light steel gray has a delicate, wintry effect and is reminiscent of mountain landscapes just before spring. 

Of course, collaborations are a dime a dozen. But they only succeed when a coherent symbiosis between two brands is created, incorporating the best of both. And so don’t be surprised if you meet crazy well-equipped but also damn sharply dressed people when camping or hiking in the mountains. Or on the street. Or even in the club. Because who knows where this will go next.