Since nearly 30 years, Claudia Lanius has been making Eco-Fashion – and for almost 20 years under the name of Lanius. She is definitely one of the most important pioneers of the sustainable fashion scene. Because when she launched her first jeans collection from hemp with the wonderfully ambiguous name THC – The Hanf Company, sustainable fashion was not an issue. Everything seemed to be in abundance. And yet Claudia Lanius was fascinated by the fast and environmentally friendly raw material, which can be processed so wonderfully – especially in combination with silk.
Her visionary hemp collections made Claudia Lanius the eco-pioneer in Germany
Even today, the Cologne-based woman still has great parts of hemp in her collections, which she has been selling since 1999 under her own name. In addition to organic cotton, Tencel and Modal, there are numerous other fantastic sustainable materials. And especially wonderful-feminine cuts for modern women who want to know what they wear. And what do you ask someone who knows the subject for much longer than you do? Best of all, because there is first-hand knowledge
From eco-fashion to green high fashion – a conversation with Claudia Lanius
my-GREENstyle: You are the German Eco-Fashion pioneer and therefore one of the few that I can ask for a retrospective. What has changed in sustainable fashion since you founded your label?
Claudia Lanius: Since the establishment of Lanius in 1999 and the founding of my first company “THC – The Hanf Company” in 1994, a lot has changed. There were, as now, people who begin and redesign things with courage. At the time, Hessnatur certainly did this, whose quality standards became my model. Since then, much has happened: the fashion has simply become more beautiful, the offer is bigger. The suppliers have opened, are trying out, and are more open to change. One could say: On all sides, consciousness is there for how we have grown, that we have only one planet Earth, we have to recycle things and put on sustainable resources.
my-GREENstyle: How can it be that fair-trade clothing is still so negligently low in the sales figures?
Claudia Lanius: It is still a small number of sustainable productions. And it’s still hard to get good sustainable fashion. If you do not want to order online, I find it even difficult in a big city like Cologne to find a cool shop. I understand the customer, who does not want to carry out a comprehensive research. The sustainable offer must be brought to the customer even more effectively. And sustainable fashion is just slightly more expensive – in the minds is still anchored: Eco is expensive. There is definitely still potential for expansion and this also includes clarification work.
Organic fashion has become great green fashion
my-GREENstyle: What should change? What factors could push a sustainable fashion to make it more publicly perceived?
Claudia Lanius: The industry has to grow. And even more companies have to offer sustainable fashion. The government could also take further steps in order to be sustainable in the future. The thought is, of course, perceived more by spreading through the press and bloggers, as well as through well-known personalities.
Good sustainable fashion is unfortunately still difficult to get
my-GREENstyle: “Sustainable” is for me personally a term, which is so unsexy, that I hardly notice an increase. How did you describe sustainable fashion when you started in the field?
Claudia Lanius: For me as an old hand in the green fashion industry, the term “sustainable” actually sounds even chic. Previously it was called “organic fashion”, or “eco-fashion”. This was really terrible unsexy, so I have not adapted these concepts for me. Then came some English term like “Fashion & Ecology”. That sounded better. But “organic fashion” was really long the time the term. Meanwhile English terms are firmly anchored in our vocabulary and therefore I can get in touch with Fair Fashion and the German counterpart of sustainable fashion and fair fashion.
my-GREENstyle: If we do not think of something better – something that fills fashion and design. Clear conscience included?
Claudia Lanius: I can only recommend our claim, which is based on our corporate understanding and embraces sustainable development as a continuing process: LOVE FASHION / THINK ORGANIC / BE RESPONSIBLE. These are our maxims for a fashion that feels good – on the skin and the conscience.
LoveFashion – think organic – be responsible are the maxim of Lanius
my-GREENstyle: How do you see sustainable fashion in Germany in international comparison?
Claudia Lanius: I think we are among the pioneers in Germany. The automotive and food industries have made it their own. The textile industry follows: With the Ethical Fashion Show in Berlin, we are one of the first to offer sustainable fashion a platform for presentation at Fashion Week. Sustainability has become a lifestyle and the Germans can always be convinced by an international comparison of quality features.
my-GREENstyle: The competition has also grown over the years in the sustainable area. What impact does this have on your own label?
Claudia Lanius: Competition stimulates business. I find it pretty great that we are not alone in the market. A few years ago, I was really afraid that the whole would fall asleep. Where the supply increases, demand also increases. In the DOB segment, we are still the leading label and I am very happy. But there are many other labels that have established themselves in the field, such as Philomena Zanetti, Isabell de Hillerin, and honest by. They all revive the market and make it interesting. The ultimate goal is to offer the Conscious Consumer a wide choice, and it needs a variety of labels.
The Conscious Consumer needs a wide selection
my-GREENstyle: You have a cooperation with Weleda. At the Salon Show, we have seen your great cooperation with Kunert. Is it a valid statement for the sustainable area: “together we are strong” or is there a similar competition as in the conventional fashion?
Claudia Lanius: Fortunately not. Somehow makes this bond strong and lets us get together. I like these cooperations and like to deal with people – whether it is from the textile industry or, as in the case of Weleda, from the natural cosmetics sector. I find this wonderful and it is true: Together we are strong and over the different company stories synergies are found and new stories can be created and told.
Together we are strong and can use synergies
my-GREENstyle: Can you tell us a bit about Lanius x Kunert? How did this come about?
Claudia Lanius: At the last GreenTec Awards, we have presented parts of our collection for the first time and of course also looked around. There we quickly came into contact with Kunert, who presented their product innovation, the Blue series from Econyl, exclusively there. There was great enthusiasm on both sides, and so began the deliberations of what could be created together. This has resulted in the first sustainable cloak / stocking collection, which we are proud of and which is definitely still expandable.
my-GREENstyle: Is there another fashion label with which you would like to cooperate? Are you interested in working with a conventional designer?
Claudia Lanius: A difficult, as well as exciting question. There are definitely great designers and brands, such as Jil Sander, Armani and Karl Lagerfeld, who inspire and interest me through their clear form. If there are possibilities to reconcile their design with our sustainable materials, this would be a terribly great, as well as attention-grabbing thing …
I could imagine working with Jil Sander, Armani or Karl Lagerfeld
my-GREENstyle: You show your collection in Berlin at the Ethical Fashion Show AND on the premium. The perception of the identical Lanius collection at the different fairs is …
Claudia Lanius: … of course completely different. At the Ethical Fashion Show, we are the biggest DOB label and we are already a bit out. This is always a great experience when the buyers re-enter our collection and are impressed by their bare feel and are pleasantly surprised. On the premium, of course, we are less aware of the 1500 labels. It is difficult and we have to do real conviction in order to draw attention to our positioning. But also there, we have found many new good customers and find it important to present ourselves to the wider mass as a brand
my-GREENstyle: You have achieved a lot in the last 20 years. What’s next on your agenda?
Claudia Lanius: A whole lot more. I am interested in projects such as the organic cotton project of the bioRe Foundation, which we use for our organic cotton and the India school project we have been supporting for three years. In October, I was in Peru, as we will expand our wonderful alpaca qualities. There I was able to comprehensively deal with my existing production companies as well as inform about new producers. And of course with my own eyes, see how the alpacas live high up in the Andes.
We will expand our wonderful alpaca qualities
I am always open for new cooperations with people who want to push something forward. In addition, my focus is very clearly on designing new, beautiful collections, which are more than just a pleasing design. New possibilities in the material to discover and optimize processes is now in my second half of life (as I always call it personally) very close to the heart.
my-GREENstyle: You started with hemp. Today you have 20 material groups with whom you work. What is your favorite material?
Claudia Lanius: There are summer and winter materials, which I particularly like. I love silk. I like hemp still very much and have it mostly in a material mix in my collections. I am flying to India now and have in any case skin-flattering linen and hemp shirts in the suitcase. For the summer it is simply a great, cooling material. Very different from cotton or silk, which stick fast in the heat. In winter, of course, I am happy about my alpaca sweaters, which are so light thanks to the air in the capillaries
my-GREENstyle: Is there a material you would like to try?
Claudia Lanius: Absolutely! I could imagine working with this milk fiber, the QMilk. I find it exciting when new materials like e.g. Seacell from algae come to market. And new, natural resources are used that are fast to regrow, or simply – as the protein casein in the case of QMilk – are simply present. I always see what is possible for us.
A particularly exciting material: QMilk, a milk fiber
my-GREENstyle: And what favorite pieces do we find in your wardrobe, which are not from Lanius?
Claudia Lanius: Because of course there are already one or the other. My Cologne stores are multibrand stores and I have a few beloved Drykorn parts in my wardrobe. And I love Humanoid, a Dutch label which has processed very nice materials and a casual style.
my-GREENstyle: What was your last buy of a non-sustainable piece of clothing and what?
That was probably a drykorn part. Although the label does not produce sustainabe, it places a very high value on materials and processes and a very high proportion of natural materials. Drykorn also knows its production sites. And I really appreciate the way in which tailoring is practiced there.
my-GREENstyle: What can you give to young colleagues who wants to establish a sustainable fashion label?
Claudia Lanius: A lot of commitment, a lot of questions, a lot of work together. Talk to people at IVN and GOTS. Learn what the certifications mean. In short. Questions, questions, questions, passion, passion, passion.
Tip of the Eco-pioneer for young colleagues: questions, questions, questions, passion, passion, passion
my-GREENstyle: How and where do you relax best?
Claudia Lanius: AOn sundays in the Neptunbad. Sunday is for me a day when I do not talk much and do not want to think so much. Otherwise, I like to jog in the morning in the Volksgarten. The sounds there, the air and the view into nature – that just makes me feel good.
my-GREENstyle: Your favorite place?
Claudia Lanius: The Neptunbad (grins), but also at home
my-GREENstyle: Before I forget: What are you wearing today?
Claudia Lanius: An all-black outfit, as you say so beautiful today. Consisting of Kunert tights – not from econyl but from silk / cotton. Our black leather skirt from the upcoming autumn / winter collection – from wonderfully breathing deepmello rhubarb leather. And the cuddly black sweater with stand-up collar from our organic Merino Fine Knit quality.
Thank you, Claudia!