Wasted German Youth - Design Bureau

Wasted German Youth

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

“You know, Berlin is the party capital of the world," says Paul Snowden, owner and founder of Wasted German Youth, "and Germans, they know how to party.” Snowden's Berlin-based design label features T-shirts, sweatshirt, and other apparel branded in Heavyweight Futura Condensed slogans. His signature "Wasted German Youth" tagline happens to be the best selling item in his line, strewn across the front of a T-shirt like three stacked bumper stickers.

A New Zealand native who now calls Berlin home, the graphic designer originally began by hand-scrawling the catchphrases onto T-shirts and printed them as a hobby. Soon, more observational T-shirts followed, and Snowden’s cheeky DIY experiment turned into a full-blown clothing line. Other memorable sayings include "Wasted French Fuck;" "Next Wasted Top Model" and "Fuck Me Like The Whore I Am."

Snowden seems somewhat uncomfortable with the popularity of his work. “I think I created a kind of graphic design style which kind of blew up, maybe, I don’t know,” he says.

Since its inception in 2005, the designs have caught fire with the youth of Berlin and beyond, his line a nod of acknowledgment to the club/punk counterculture. Yet Snowden seems somewhat uncomfortable with the popularity of his work. “I think I created a kind of graphic design style which kind of blew up, maybe, I don’t know,” he says. “One could go into the psychology of it, of course, that the Germans may be possibly more open for outside ideas, rather that having to deal with their nationality complex, but on the other hand, it pretty much clicked internationally. It was a good idea at the right time, and…something to be proud of, I guess.”

Several of Snowden’s designs are also reflective of what he feels is a very passionate music scene. “Music is still the highest art form there is,” he says. He’s coined T-shirts to accompany his feeling, with slogans like "The Kids Want Techno;" "Rave Is The New Riot" and "Minimal My Ass," which he says is a “piss-take of the minimal techno thing that swept through Berlin.” Willing or not, Snowden’s line has somewhat made him a voice for the club kid set. “It’s just an accepted part of the lifestyle here,” he says. “Berlin’s always been kind of a strong music city, and I think it’s a really open-minded city and a really free-thinking city where people do come to party. And it’s become a big industry, of course,” he says, noting that if all the clubs, bars and music stores closed, the city would feel dead. “It’s just a big part of the city, you know."

And though “youth” is built into the title, Snowden insists his designs are not only for those still willing to pack sweaty clubs. He sees clients come into his store of varying age groups. “There’s the young, next generation of ravers, the 18-year-old kids who’ve just started clubbing. And then you have the older generation — 25-30, 40 maybe. They wear or buy the T-shirts to speak of their clubbing years. I’m definitely the second customer. I don’t go out very much anymore.” But, he adds, “anything’s possible.”

Snowden’s shares his not-to-miss spots while in Berlin

• Top of the favorite list is, at present, Tempelhof Airport. The runway and landing area has been made into a park and nature reserve. Doing laps is pretty trippy enough, but nothing beats the 2.5km run down the runway. You can really feel history. It’s pretty amazing. I’m doing my first marathon this year.

• Kim chi Princess is Germany’s number one, best Korean restaurant, right here in Berlin. I am a serious fan of all Korea, and especially the kitchen. Max out on the BBQ and the bulgogi. kimchiprincess.com

• The shop Soto, which has opened on the Torstrasse, is nice. Clothes and books. But only the part downstairs, the modern sterile part, not the wooden rustic part upstairs (urgh).

Wasted German Youth, $7-249, www.wasted-german-youth.com

By Katie Weber Schroeder

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