Berlin’s Collaboration Culture: Melisa Minca x TBM

While New York is known as the city that never sleeps, Berlin is the city that keeps on creating. Amidst the kebab shops scattered across the nitty-gritty streets of Neukölln, and graffiti-covered walls of Kreuzberg, Berlin has boasted affordable housing, a low cost of living and a flourishing creative scene. We speak to Bratislavan, upcycling designer Melisa Minca and Sydney-born founder of The Black Market, Lisa N’Paisan on why they’ve chosen to leave their home cities and join the energetic force of global creatives flocking to Berlin. 

Perplexing rental prices of New York and London are pushing artists out of these creative hubs in droves. Founder of online sustainable brand, The Black Market, Lisa N’Paisan is no exception as she recalls the light bulb moment when she realised it was time to part ways with the bright lights of London, willingly stating, “I was at a crossroads in my life. I could either join the corporate world to be able to keep up with the inflated costs of living, or I could move to Berlin. I refused to romanticise London for any longer.” 

The notion of a lone creative in their exposed brick studio is a thing of the past, as designers, artists, and friends regularly meet at their local späti (think convenience store meets liquor shop… that’s open 24/7) to digest the daily inner circle gossips or conceptualise new projects over a glass of red wine. And that’s exactly how the collaboration between Melisa Minca and The Black Market, fruitioned. 

Admittedly, we skipped a vital part of their story — how they met. Lisa N’Paisan jokingly confesses, “It honestly wasn’t anything glamorous. She followed my Instagram account, I scrolled through her posts and saw that we were both fighting for the same cause, asked to meet-up to “discuss bizand the rest was history.” And discuss business they did. Following the success of their first collaboration, the pair are launching their latest collection, ‘I’ll Wear This 7x on Average,’ a hybridisation of the workwear and techno club kid aesthetic of Berlin.

Upcycled from vintage silky button-up shirts, powersuit blazers from the eighties, and detective trench coats, reflective political statistics are deliberately ironed onto each piece. The alarming, bold statements are a reflection of upcycling designer, Melisa Minca’s concerns towards the fast fashion industry, pointing out, “The fashion industry needs to move from a predominantly linear system to a completely cyclical one if we as a society are to reverse climate change and survive as a species on this planet. That’s why with upcycling and reworking second hand or scraps, I’m trying to show that we don’t need to make new clothes… This way I’m trying to ensure the buyer is getting an original piece, made to their measure, which transcends trends, is personal to the buyer and thus they’re less inclined to throw it away.

It is Berlin’s melting pot of cultures, values, and identities which breeds collaboration culture and makes projects like these possible. As Japanese Avant Garde designer, Rei Kawakubo once said, “We’re sharing the space, but no one is losing their identity. If anything, what each of us does is somehow accentuated. The result can only be positive.”

Check out the exclusive Melisa Minca x The Black Market collection here.


Art Direction: Rae Tilly @raetilly

Set Design: Chiara Leoni @colourfulchiara

Photographer: Rae Tilly @raetilly.shoots

Assistants: Lisa N’Paisan, Julia Goodwin @lisa.kuro @julialeegoodwin

Hair & Makeup: Vanessa Ross @vanessaross_

Stylist: Anh Dinh @anhdinhstylist

Models: Helena Grant, Linh Nguyen @rxptors @ndvlinh

Casting: Rae Tilly @raetilly


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