Episode 3 — Fifties Fashion, GDR Style — PT 2

East German Fashion History Blog
3 min readJun 11, 2020


Hello and thank you so much for tuning into this week’s episode which you can also find here

As promised, you can find my bibliographic references, terms/translations and images to accompany this week’s episode below.

Drawing to demonstrate the possiblity of standartized women’s outerwear. Illustration: Christa Kirmse & Maria Landgraf Source: Fashioning Socialism, Stitziel
Sibylle store interior. Photo: Sibylle (1958, no. 5) Source: Fashion East, Bartlett.
“Kumpels, Kohlen, Kapriolen”. Sibylle 4/1958. Editorial with mannequins modeling VEB Bekleidungswerk Zwickau and acceossries fom the German Fashion Institute with coal miners. Photo Altendorf. Source: Fashioning Socialism, Stitziel
“Teenager — Naeher Besehen” Sibylle. 4/1960. Source: Sibylle Zeitschrift fuer Mode und Kulture 1956–1995
Dress Design Deutsches Modeinstitut (DMI)/German Fashion Institute. Sibylle, 3/1958 Source: Fashion East, Bartlett
Cover, Sibylle, August 1/ 1956. Source: photoscala
Introductory Poem, Sibylle 1/1956.
“Krakauer Baender gehen um die Welt” Sibylle 1/1956 Photo: Horst E. Shulze
“Krakauer Baender gehen um die Welt” Sibylle 1/1956 Photo: Pofahl, Wolynski

Terms/Translations & Show Notes

Baukastenprinzip — Construction Kit Principle: was a solution to radically standardize clothing production by using 8 standard silhouettes. This idea was appropriated from other industrial sectors. See above for image.

Berliner Modewoche/Berlin Fashion Week — 1958 with 20,000 people in attendance sought to educate the public but act as a networking convention for all entities of the GDR fashion industry from garment & textile factories to fashion editors.

*Volkseigener Betrieb (VEB)/Betrieb mit staatlicher Beteiligung (BSB): there were 3 types of textile & garment privately owned, state-owned & half state-owned — Heinz Bormann’s couture salon could serve as an example to this. The Volkseigener Betrieb (VEB) was completely state owned and the Betrieb mit staatlicher Beteiligung (BSB) is half state owned. The Verinigung Volkseigener Betriebe (VVB) was a centrally administrated association of state-owned factories which determined financing, utilization, technology, allocating resources and ultimately acted as an intermediary. In Sibylle’s 5/1958 article “Berliner chic in aller welt” (Berliner chic all over the world) the VEB’s “Elegant” /specialty factory had traveled to Duesseldorf, Helsinki & Cairo to show their latest pieces.

Dederon: East German rebranding of Perlon also known as Nylon

Sozialistiche Einheits Partei/Socialist Unity Party: East German communist party

Instituet fuer Bekleidung Kultur/ Institute for the Culture of Dress (IBK) founded 1952: responsible for everything from design to mass production of clothing and fashion accessories. The IBK was renamed the Deutsches Modeinstitut/German Fashion Institute in 1957

Modelinie/the Fashion Line of the GDR: was an official fashion forecast introduced by the IBK (Institute for Clothing Culture later renamed the German Fashion Institute) in 1956 to be “inspired” by international fashion trends. Eventually, this just resulted in copying designs from the West which later incited party officials to encourage the German Fashion Institute & East German fashion industry to invent their own trends.

Episode 3 References

Bartlett, Djurdja. Fashion East: The Spectre That Haunted Socialism. (Cambridge, The MIT Press, 2010)

Kraser, Andreas et. al., eds. Sibylle: Zeitschrift fuer Mode und Kultur 1956–1995 (Rostock: Hartmann, 2017)

Scheffler, Ute. Chic im Osten: Mode in der DDR (Leipzig: BuchVerlag fuer die Frau GMBH, 2010)

Stitziel, Judd. Fashioning Socialism: Clothing, Politics and Consumer Culture in East Germany. (New York: Berg Publishers, 2005)

*the letter “V” in German is always pronounced as a “F”.

CORRECTION from Episode 3: It was mentioned that marks had been used which were East German marks to be specific. Please see the below graph for a breakdown of the changes in currency throughout the GDR:

Source: Wikipedia