By  on March 21, 2006

DUSSELDORF — After several consistently downbeat seasons, the momentum returned to the Düsseldorf showrooms and on the fairgrounds during the recent CPD trade show here.

Not only did buyer traffic pick up, but so did the overall mood as 46,000 German and international trade visitors clocked into the three-day event last month, a 5 percent increase compared with February and August 2005.

Manufacturers said German retailers were in visibly better spirits and more open than ever to try new vendors. The city's approximately 700 showrooms were bustling again, and the CPD fair also witnessed some lively activity. The new trend-oriented Styles & Signatures in Hall 13 was well received, as was last season's restyled Fashion Gallery featuring what the market here dubs "avant-garde" or "New Age" collections. While these two more high-end halls with their individual looks and atmosphere formed the new heart of CPD, the more mainstream sectors such as Modern Woman in Hall 11 also spruced up their look, thanks to visual merchandising efforts on the part of the exhibitors themselves. Even pure classification areas such as leather and knits looked better trafficked and busier than in many a season.

"The mood is good again, and there's buying going on again," commented Stefan Alsbrand-Eickhoff, fashion director of the leading Düsseldorf specialty store Eickhoff. "We're here to buy and order in relevant quantities," he said, naming German collections such as Schumacher, Iris von Arnim, Strenesse, Rena Lange, Ella Singh and St.Emile, as well as European designer collections such as Akris, Celine, Lanvin and Burberry, which also have major showrooms in Düsseldorf.

"After a five-day [buying] trip to Milan, we can see that German collections have changed and moved away from ‘glamour' totally. The Germans are taking on more and more of a role, and we're happy with what we're finding here. It's back to the roots in Düsseldorf, and what's really important is a commercial, solid business," Alsbrand-Eickhoff stated.

Berlin specialty store retailer Antonie Setzer was also in a positive state of mind. "Business was sensational last year and I have a very good feeling," she said. "But I have a special orientation. I've found my niche and my customers trust me, which is the be-all and end-all.

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