Fashion Spotlight: Maqu - Sustainable Fashion in Berlin
Many of the boutiques I discover in Berlin are just from walking around different neighborhoods. That's exactly how I found Chi & Co and Maqu. What caught my attention about Maqu were the muted colors and clean-lined designs. The styles are all something I would wear--more minimalistic but also very unique.
I sat down with designer and shop owner, Marisa Fuentes Prado, who spoke about where she finds her inspiration for her designs, how she ended up in the Berlin fashion scene, and why she loves Berlin's collaborative and sustainable environment.
I always find it interesting to learn how people end up in Berlin. What’s your story?
I’m originally from Peru and started designing clothing in Lima. A few years ago, I moved to Copenhagen and I lived there for two years. In 2015 I moved to Berlin, so I’ve been here for three years now.
Your designs have a minimalistic, contemporary look. Do you think that living in Copenhagen influenced your style?
My aesthetic has always been more minimalistic, even before moving to Europe. I’ve always liked that kind of appearance and am naturally drawn to more monochromatic palettes.
When I moved to Copenhagen, I worked with two designers: one of the designers used a lot of bright colors and patterns. After I moved to Berlin, I interned for another designer who was very avant-garde: a lot of leather, a lot of black, very edgy. Both designers were at very different ends of the spectrum and I wanted something that was more in the middle. So, I started making my own designs and now, I feel like I’m somehwere in between those two aesthetics.
What made you want to open up a shop in Berlin?
Well, I moved here because my husband is from Berlin. But aside from that, I like Berlin better than other cities like Copenhagen or Paris. Berlin is such a multicultural place and it’s easy to find different projects to work on; people are always creating and innovating something new. Plus, the cost of living here is relatively affordable; there’s so much you can do and see for free. This type of environment is perfect for discovering music, art, culture, etc.
If you had to describe your style in three words, what would they be?
Most of the people that come into my store and tell me that the style of my clothing is more Scandinavian, but I don’t want to limit or label myself as one type of design. To me, the pieces are more practical and are good for combining with other pieces of clothing. But, if I had to choose three words they would be timeless, minimalistic, sustainable.
Tell us more about how you incorporate sustainability into your designs?
80% of the fabrics we use are organic and are from Peru and Germany and are 100% certified. The German company that we source our fabrics from produces organic fabrics from Portugal, Turkey, and India. The remaining 20% of our materials are leftover stock or recycled fabrics we get from other factories or companies in Berlin. Eventually, our goal is to use all organic fabrics.
What’s the meaning behind the name, “Maqu”?
It was my nickname growing up. Even friends of friends called me that, and people didn’t even know that it’s not my actual name.
Do you design all the pieces yourself?
I design and make the pieces, but I also have someone in Peru who helps with production. It depends on what fabric we have and where. With the fabrics in Peru, for example, I send my technical drawings and have someone assist in the making of the prototypes and designs.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Mostly just everyday life. For instance, if I’m just walking in the street and I see something in the garbage and I think, “Oh, this looks like a nice shape for something,” I’ll keep in in mind. Or, maybe I’ll be listening to classical music and I hear something that sticks with me. I also think that walking in nature helps a lot. I try to go into the forest for walks as much as I can, especially during the autumn season.
What do like about fashion in Berlin?
People are generally more conscious, not only about fashion, but about food, makeup, recycling, and every aspect of life. Yes, I create sustainable fashion, but I also use organic cosmetics and eat organic foods. I think a lot of people are like this in Berlin as well. They think of sustainability not only as a trend but also as a way to live better and more consciously.
What are some of your favorite pieces to make?
Coats—I love tailoring them. Currently, I only make women’s clothing. All my friends ask me when I will make men’s clothing, but right now I’m just focusing on women’s fashion. But men’s might come later on.
The accessories and ceramics sold in my store are designed by my friend, a product and jewelry designer from Georgia, Ia Kutateladze. Her brand is called IAAI.
Do you find the environment for designers really competitive?
Not really. I would say that in Berlin, more designers are open to collaborating. It’s not like Paris - people are happy to work with one another here. I’m not here to compete with anybody but more to work on Maqu as my own personal passion project. There are a lot of very good designers here and we all help and support one another. There’s a really nice sense of community in that regard.
Are the clothes available for purchase online?
Only some of the pieces are available online, but the next collection will be sold on my website. Currently, they are only six pieces fo purchase from a previous collection. But in the coming months, more of the styles will be available online.
Thanks for reading! More fashions to come soon. Stay tuned ;)