Gertrude Berg works with industrial scraps, shaping the pieces as she finds them and making no additional cuts. Her collection, called BergWerk, is full of playful and unique shapes that are beautiful yet free from the ever-shifting currents of fashion.
Berg was raised in Austria and studied sculpture at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Her background informs her garments, many of which are best described as “sculptural.”
Berg told me that fabric is the raw material for her work, in the same way stone might be for other sculptors. “I see the fabric pieces as art material that I shape into clothing,” she said. “I have a strong sense for form, shape, dimensions and flow that I want to incorporate in the garments.”
Working with fabric as she finds it reduces waste, and Berg enjoys the creative challenge that comes with not having control over the available materials. Having a background in art also helps Berg break free from the conventions of the garment industry. “I am not concerned about doing it right,” she said. “A valuable lesson I learned from my teachers is to have ‘permission’ to be creative. To be spontaneous and to trust in intuition.”
Now based in Brooklyn, Berg got the inspiration to make clothing after happening upon new fabric cut-offs discarded in a dumpster in 2008. Since then, she’s developed relationships with the owners of the clothing factories, who now pass remnants directly on to her. She founded the BergWerk label in 2013.
BergWerk offers garments that reduce the waste of the fashion industry, and are a more sustainable choice. But more importantly, Berg’s designs give us a glimpse of how clothing should be: working with the materials we’re given, leaving no waste behind, and creating something personal and unique.