A stitch in time: How Burda Style is leading the fight for greater sustainability in the media and fashion industries

Few magazines in the world do ‘slow fashion’ better than Burda Style. For more than 50 years the German lifestyle title has promoted the concept of repairing or sewing clothes yourself instead of blindly consuming – providing pattern sheets for readers to follow with each issue. And it’s not just the fashion world it’s trying to change. By taking an eco-conscious approach to publishing, Burda Style is leading the way in an industry grappling with how to become more sustainable.

“We use recycled newspaper for our magazine’s instruction part and the pattern sheets, and our 100 per cent recycled tracing paper has a vegan plant-based wax layer,” explains Henning Röper, CEO of Burda Create!a unit at Hubert Burda Media tasked with growing and winning new customers.

 “Furthermore, all our products are packaged in either cardboard or recycled foil and are produced in Europe. Burda Style is committed to support the overall shift towards sustainable consumerism.”

According to Burda Style Creative Director Anastasios Voulgaris, home sourcing is of paramount importance when the magazine is produced. “We support small ateliers, use European fabrics, and produce our photos locally to keep the travel and shipment activity low,” he says. “Our whole production process – from the initial sketch right through to the sewing of the designs – has always been and will remain made in Germany.”

We have a continued belief in the power of print magazines. Crafting magazines are here to stay.

Anastasios Voulgaris, Creative Director, Burda Style

Once the sustainably produced Burda Style hits the shelves it plays a key role in steering people towards slow fashion. “Readers love the inspiration of a composed magazine and appreciate the pattern sheets coming with these magazines,” says Röper.  “Moreover, about 30 patterns in a Burda Style issue for €7.90 is a striking deal.

“Our magazines are not only read but also utilised for hours of sewing and knitting, and collected by our readers. This is a much higher engagement level than other magazine types have. Our subscriber numbers for Burda Style, Burda Easy and Burda Knitting are rising. This is why we have a continued belief in the power of print magazines. Crafting magazines are here to stay.”

Burda Style sewing patterns

The good fight

For Burda Style, cramming pattern sheets into each issue is just the beginning of the fight to get readers to be more sustainable. The magazine has also recently established a “sustainability section” introducing sustainable fashion labels, manufacturers and personalities who are trying to make the world a better place with clothing, fabrics, fibers or accessories.

“Promoting sustainability through our articles is very important to us,” says Voulgaris. “We are planning to cover more up- and recycling topics in the future and to create an even stronger connection between print and digital media with sewing tutorials, teaching our readers how to upcycle fashion instead of throwing it away.”

Showing its commitment to promoting sustainability, Burda Style put “fairknallt” blogger, author and fair fashion pioneer Marie Nasemann on their April cover and interviewed her about environmental issues.

“Marie Nasemann perfectly reflects sustainable fashion, making her an ideal ambassador for the positioning of the Burda Style brand,” says Voulgaris. “She really lives the idea of sustainability, avoiding fast fashion and focusing on conscious fashion.

“Marie wears and presents fashion from fair and sustainable brands, demonstrating that fair fashion is fashionable and contemporary. She is a modern mother, that sews fashion for her own child, at the same time approachable and down-to-earth firmly rooted in family values – the exact same values that Burda Style represents.”


Sew relaxing

As the Covid-19 pandemic hit and lockdowns became part of everyday life, Burda Style found itself at the forefront of helping people cope with the crisis, with sewing not only boosting the environment, but also mental health.

“Sewing gives people the chance to secure a creative space for themselves and create something unique,” says Voulgaris. “It is a relaxing way to spend some me-time. Let´s not forget that the exchange within the sewing community offers space to share tips and be creative together and I’m certain the need of hobby sewing will continue to increase.

“With our designs, we inspire women who like to sew for themselves, and help them get their projects done – from easy ideas for beginners to advanced couture pieces. Our readers can be proud wearing what they made themselves.

“This is what Aenne Burda wanted to achieve when launching her magazine Burda Moden in 1950. Her passion for fashion, new fabrics, bold details, and refined patterns is still epitomised by Burda Style.

In addition to providing sewing patterns in their print magazine, readers can also download sheets from the Burda Style website – something that came in handy when the pandemic forced textile shops to close.

Free Burda Style sewing patterns

“Through the website and corresponding sites in license markets we offer our patterns as individual downloads – a pattern sheet with just one style and the associated instruction,” explains Röper.

“This allows us to offer over 13,000 sewing patterns from the latest magazine issue to our vast back catalogue, from which our readers can select a pattern, print it out and start their project right away. This is exactly what an increasing group of our customers are looking for.”

The most successful download Burda Style has ever had was a simple free sewing pattern for a face mask that it offered in the early stages of the pandemic, while a Burda Special magazine issue with home wear styles also proved to be a hit.

Due to the pandemic Burda Style has experienced rising online sales, prompting a rethink of their e-commerce strategy.

“We are also expanding our e-commerce offer with other materials and services our readers might need for their hobby,” says Röper. “On the other hand, we firmly believe that fabric stores will remain a key channel for us and we continue to support them wherever we can.”

We will continue to inspire and support our target groups in any format that works for them – printed, digital or as live events.

Henning Röper, CEO, Burda Create!

Pattern of behaviour

With sewing and similar hobbies set to continue its growth spurt even as lockdown restrictions are relaxed, Hubert Burda Media continues to find innovative ways to connect with its readers.

“At Burda Create!, we are passionate about crafting, especially sewing, knitting and crocheting,” says Röper. “We will continue to inspire and support our target groups in following these hobbies with fashionable designs and precise instructions in any format that works for them – printed, digital or as live events.

“We are now publishing step-by-step video instructions on specific Burda patterns, as well as on basic sewing knowledge to engage an audience that is used to learn new things this way.

“Another thrust is expanding our international presence with our full product offering through licensing relationships. The latest additions are Burda Style in Serbian, resulting in 17 language editions for our flagship title, and Burda Easy in Hungarian.”

Anastasios Voulgaris

Anastasios Voulgaris has been Creative Director of Burda Style since January 2017. In this role, he is responsible for the entire burda style pattern collection, among other things. Previously, he was deputy head of the fashion department at burda style (since 2012) as well as designer and fashion editor (since 2002) at the Munich and Offenburg locations. Before joining Burda Style, he worked for various fashion companies in Athens and Paris and studied fashion design.

Henning Röper

Henning Röper has been CEO for Burda Create! and Managing Director of the publishing house Aenne Burda since May 2019. Previously, he has been intensively involved in shaping Burda International’s diverse publishing business as a consultant and has many years of international experience in the media industry.

About UPM and this article

UPM Communication Papers is a long-standing strategic partner of FIPP and the worldwide media industry. As an innovation and sustainability partner, UPM supports a range of FIPP activities including this article as part of an ongoing series on the current role of print in media.

While FIPP and UPM coordinate on the production of articles in this series, the editorial content is directed by FIPP. Learn more about UPM Communication Papers here and check-out their LinkedIn page for more paper inspiration.


Your first step to joining FIPP's global community of media leaders

Sign up to FIPP World x