Fashion from the Social Burning Point

Anyone who knows me knows I love the German word sozialer Brennpunkt, which you could translate as "problem neighborhood." Could. But, as usual, the literal translation is much better: "social burning point." No, it’s not something penicillin will cure, it’s a neighborhood with social problems: unemployment, alcoholism, unintegrated foreigners, right-wing gangs, or some combination of these factors.

The Ruetli School (G) is located in the social burning point of Neukölln (G), Berlin. Now, I once stayed in a friend’s apartment in this social burning point for 2 weeks, found it perfectly nice and wondered what all the fuss was about. But a social burning point it is, and the students at the Ruetli Ruetlischool were making news for all the wrong reasons. They were threatening their teachers, beating each other senseless, failing to learn proper German, and generally being little b*&tards. Their teachers wrote a letter of desperation (G) which got sent to the press and received wide attention.

Like any piece of bad news in Germany, this provoked a storm of press coverage and commentary: about 25% thoughtful, 45% hysterical finger-pointing, 28% predictions of imminent doom for Germany/the world, and 2% Other (unhinged tirades about headscarves, calls for the return of fascism/communism provocative theories about the composition of the Van Allen belt).

It also prompted an influx of well-meaning professionals, to help the students adjust to German society and improve their image. One of the projects is Ruetli-Wear, clothes designed by the troubled teens themselves. Not only are the students "re-branding" their school, they’re also learning about practical things such as keeping accounts, designing clothes, and covering printing costs.

All profits go to the project. Won’t you go buy some Ruetli-wear, and spread some soothing ointment on this social burning point?

3 thoughts on “Fashion from the Social Burning Point

  1. Is a plain t-shirt written “Rütli” supposed to just to help or to hype? I confess I like the design of some girls´tees.Maybe I have a little of “burning point lifestyle” in my veins 😉

    Speaking about other interesting project from down here: some protitutes from Rio organized theirselves in a NGO that produces fashion to help the “call girls” to improve their life-standarts (health issues, conseling…)and even advertise them in fashion shows! The brand is called “Daspu”(P)( The name is – of course – very provocative noto only because ” Daspu” may be the short form of “das putas” (by whores) but plays with the name of a well-known brazilian luxury-goods boutique, Daslu:

    Don´t have to tell you that the rich bitch that owns Daslu is suing the poor working girls from the daring NGO.


  2. “Social hotspot” would maybe more idiomatic than focal point (which is in fact the literal translation of Brennpunkt). It’s cool streetwear, no doubts, but is there anyone above the age of 24 who would buy actually streetwear for themselves, no matter what brand?


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