By  on July 14, 2005

BARCELONA — Vendors attending the Spanish edition of contemporary apparel and accessories fair Bread & Butter, held here July 8-10, were rewarded with strong sales from a flood of international buyers.

The show's organizers estimated that nearly 18,000 visitors swamped the Montjuic fairgrounds for the show's first day — 30 percent coming from Spain, 20 percent from Italy, 12 percent from Germany and 8.5 percent from the U.K., among other nations. By the end of the show's three-day run, 45,000 people had registered, 51 percent of them attending from outside Spain.

"We had 300 visitors on the first day and 50 to 60 percent were international retailers," said Armand Basi, the 82-year-old founder of the eponymous sportswear label based here. "That's significant because upscale Spanish vendors have the domestic market covered. We're looking for new contacts and a wider customer base outside Spain. The fair is a huge success. We couldn't be happier."

Anna Camprodon, Basi's international sales manager, rattled off a list of buyers from the U.S., Japan, South Korea, Belgium, the Netherlands and the U.K. who stopped by. She praised Bread & Butter's directional product offerings and its international environment, which included djs playing frenetic music, a Ferris wheel and swimming pool, open-air barbeque, endless bottles of sparkling regional wine and epicurean tastings from Catalan chef Ferran Adrià. There was even a stand where dolls were made out of flour, and the ultimate prize — a "Love Boat" cruise to Ibiza.

Basi's women's line for next spring was designed by Miriam Ocariz and features superfine feminine knits with detailing that includes cabbage rose prints and a sexy black floor-length dress with allover sequined bodice. Basi also launched a women's and men's footwear collection at B&B Barcelona that included raw-edged canvas sandals on flat jute and corrugated rubber bottoms. Camprodon said Basi has inked a deal, effective this month, with New York-based Berger & Stevens to act as its U.S. showroom and agent.

The 710 exhibitors — a mere 75 of which were Spanish brands — stretched over a handful of halls. The Spanish contingent included labels such as Mallorca-based footwear manufacturer Camper, Sybilla's junior line Jocomomola and iconic T-shirt company Custo Barcelona.David Dalmau, a Custo principal, said the company doesn't typically participate in Spanish fairs, "but we had to for the contacts, not necessarily for sales."

"We exhibit at the German edition, and traditionally B&B is a strong image show," Dalmau said.

"Key to B&B is its strong management and carefully selected brands," added his brother, Custodio Dalmau. "There are trade shows that have been around for 20 years and nobody has ever heard of them. Bread & Butter is less than five years old" and is already one of the most important trade fairs in the world, he said.

Custo Barcelona's newest items for spring are denim jeans and jackets with shredded treatments and graphic beading. The denim is made in Los Angeles and labels are in what the brothers called "Hollywood" gold.

B&B Barcelona is "a real happening here. It's young, trendy, good for the fashion business and good for Spain," said Linda Heras, international expansion director of Roberto Verino. "And you get a major fashion statement from the kids in the aisles."

Heras cited a plethora of brief denim skirts, pelvis-hugging jeans, ethnic layers, sheer lingerie tops, bold-patterned hosiery, high wedges and the ubiquitous flip-flop.

Heras said Verino, a women's and men's ready-to-wear brand based in the north of Spain, will open a franchised store in Mexico City by year's end and another location in Dubai next spring.

"Bread & Butter is an important step for the fashion culture of Barcelona," said Ester Verdú, managing director of Noténom, one of the city's slickest multi-label shops. "It's open, modern and, above all, it showcases innovative brands and fresh, new items. Everything that will be in the street next season is here."

Verdú said she was looking for classic denim jeans with a good fit and no embellishment.

"I'm looking for a label not everybody has, like [Los Angeles-based] Grass," she said.

In general, Bread & Butter's brand mix featured infinite jeans and denim variations; novelty tops and Ts; action sports categories such as skateboarding, surf and soccer; emerging local designer labels like Txell Miras, whose Rei Kawakubo-inspired fall-winter 2006 collection has been picked up by Milan rtw distributor Danielle Ghiselli Diffusione, and embellishment, from sequins, glitter fabrics, shine and embroideries to Swarovski's versatile crystals.

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