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Germany: The New and the Improved

Premier trade shows are in the works in Germany, but organizers of established fairs are bypassing innovations in favor of refining their presentations.

CPD and Paris Prêt à Porter organizers are working together to prevent conflicts due to the shows’ overlapping dates.

CPD and Paris Prêt à Porter organizers are working together to prevent conflicts due to the shows’ overlapping dates.

WWD Staff

Trade show development continues at a fevered pitch in Germany. New events are being announced at a fast and furious pace — and often as quickly cancelled. For the established fair organizers in Berlin, Düsseldorf and Munich, however, consolidation and the fine-tuning of assortments is the name of the game as the competition heats up for both buyer and exhibitor support.

This story first appeared in the November 24, 2004 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

At one point, there were 10 Berlin apparel events scheduled for January 2005. The Mode-Center Berlin’s Preview has since been shelved. B.Kleidung has postponed its first edition until next summer. Also, several more shows are in the initial planning phases or are yet to be confirmed.

Nonetheless, when the season kicks off here, Bread & Butter (including Milk & Honey); Premium (including Premium Plus and Salon Berlin); B-in-Berlin from the Messe Berlin; Euro Fashion Week from Fashion Lights, and Pariser Platz, the Berlin version of the Paris 19 Vendôme show, will open their doors to a growing audience of international and domestic buyers. And this in a city that less than three years ago had no fashion fair per se.

The organizers of Bread & Butter, to be held Jan. 21-23 in the Siemens Kabelwerks in Berlin Spandau, made the strategic decision this year that bigger isn’t better. The introduction this season of the separate women’s wear segment, Milk & Honey, which will feature about 100 to 120 exhibitors, as well as a long waiting list would have made expansion a natural move. Available space notwithstanding, however, Bread & Butter bid farewell to 60 former exhibitors, turned down another 60 and opted not to push beyond its existing scope of about 500 women’s and men’s apparel, footwear and accessories brands.

Also, last season, the show sold 29,000 tickets, but the organizing team this year is more concerned about making sure the show’s visitors have the proper credentials versus growing attendance numbers. To wit, visitors are urged to preregister online, as the accreditation process at the fair can take time.

Under the slogan “class instead of mass,” the Premium shows, being held from Jan. 21-23, also aim to hold growth — and newness — in check for next season. The main Premium sportswear couture show again will be found in the tunnels beneath Potsdamer Platz and will feature about 180 exhibitors. The more glamourous Premium Plus will house a maximum of 170 participants in a tent on Potsdamer Platz. Also, Salon Berlin will present “the best of Germany” as well as international fashion brands in an as-yet-undecided location nearby.

“I see the fair[s] as a sort of virtual retailer,” commented co-director Anita Bachelin. “Of course we want to inspire, but retailers are insecure and need to make turnover. Both we and they can’t only show what’s new. You have to build up your resources and round out your assortment intelligently, without losing your regular customers.”

This de-emphasis on the new, however, doesn’t extend to premium projects like Area, which spotlights upcoming international talents. The Premium team also plans to go forward with the Sense Project for premium beauty and wellness products, and To Shoe and Premium Femmes Plus, which will run some time in early March. Exact dates have not yet been set.

New to the Berlin show scene is B-in-Berlin, a fair at the Berlin fairgrounds for more commercial apparel brands. Between 250 and 300 men’s and women’s ranges are expected to take part in the debut event that will run parallel to Bread & Butter and Premium.

The show will take place in six halls and will house open stands, which will be limited to about 2,700 square feet. As the “in” in B-in-Berlin implies, a spokeswoman pointed out, the concept is for apparel makers to present their product innovations and newest concepts rather than their entire ranges.

Also missing in Berlin until now, according to the organizers of Euro Fashion Week, are designers primarily from Eastern Europe and the new EC countries. Euro Fashion Week, open to all European designers and held from Jan. 21-23 in Backfabrik, a renovated industrial building in Prenzlauer Berg, may fill that void. Organizers are expecting about 3,000 visitors and 50 exhibitors, including individual stands from designers such as Atil Kutoglu from Vienna and New York, Fanny Couture from Cyprus and Joseph Grimma/Mugi Couture from Malta. Talks are also under way with Asian designer groups, the organizers said.

Xxb, the Paris-based organization behind the 19 Vendôme show, is also presenting a new Berlin show by reproducing that fashion event under the name Pariser Platz. The show, to be held from Jan. 20-23 in Frank Gehry’s new building at 3 Pariser Platz, just beyond the Brandenburg Gate, will present 25 designer collections for men’s and women’s wear and accessories. The buyer focus is on Northern and Eastern Europe, though Berlin is also a draw for retailers from Italy and other key markets, a spokeswoman said.

She added that 19 Vendôme exhibitors such as Pringle of Scotland, Diane von Furstenberg, Nicole Farhi and Rozae Nichols have expressed interest in Berlin.

Also on the Jan. 21-23 Berlin lineup are Fashion Week Berlin in Sony Center for hip-hop labels and Spirit of Fashion at the TV studio Event Island in Spandau for punk, Gothic and rock looks.

Meanwhile, in Düsseldorf, the megafair CPD woman-man-kidz will host about 2,000 exhibitors from 46 countries, with approximately one-third of its 48,000 visitors coming from abroad. CPD has come under pressure in recent years from Germany’s shrinking retail and manufacturing scene, exhibitor defections to private showrooms and/or Berlin and the nation’s ongoing economic woes, which have made cost-cutting a primary issue for buyers and apparel makers.

Last season, CPD joined forces with — rather than against — the hundreds of showrooms in Düsseldorf, to good effect. And visitors to the next CPD will find it a more compact and concentrated “show of shows,” according to Igedo company veteran and recently named CPD co-director Margit Jandali.

Due to Carnival, which brings business to a standstill in Düsseldorf, the show’s dates have been moved up a week to Jan. 30-

Feb. 1, leading to a conflict with the Paris Prêt à Porter. However, Jandali said CPD is working in cooperation with the Paris show to make it easier for buyers to get from Paris to Düsseldorf and vice versa.

The fair will be split into the following worlds: woman-man for apparel collections catering to both; woman, including modern woman, urban essential, young fashion/

casualwear and new woman/lifestyle fashion; man; kidz, which is a new children’s wear segment for newborns, babies, kids and juniors; the fashion gallery, featuring more avant-garde collections; accessories; nightlive, for evening and cocktail mode, and retail update, a new area for nonfashion products relating to beauty, food, interiors, music and multimedia.

Also, CPD is now limiting stands to about 2,700 square feet; they used to go up to 16,000 square feet.

“Retailers want a complete overview of the market,” Jandali commented. “This fair is a business forum.”

Meanwhile, from Feb. 6-9, Munich will become active sportswear central as more than 1,600 makers of sports apparel and equipment show their wares at Ispo Winter ’05. The show is fully booked, the Messe Munich reported, and will again be organized into specific sports communities such as board sports, including the streetwear scene; running and team sports; ski; outdoor fashion, and fitness.

The independent Ispovision, held at the same time, will return for its third season and focus on active brands that generate most of their sales in the fashion trade.

Later in the month, from Feb. 19-23, Munich Fashion Fair WoMen will go into its second season at the Dahmit Park Forum in Munich Schwabing. The top-of-the-line trade event, whose exhibitors are juried by some of Germany’s most influential retailers, expects about 60 predominantly Italian collections to be on view there in February. Like the original men’s Munich Fashion Fair, which will be held Jan. 23-25, Munich Fashion Fair WoMen has become a popular ordering date for high-end retailers in Germany and the neighboring countries.

Frankfurt is also back on the German trade show calendar with Avantex and Techtextil from June 7-9 at the Frankfurt fairgrounds. Held every two years, Avantex concentrates on high tech apparel textiles, whereas Techtextil includes high tech fibers and both woven and nonwoven industrial fabrics. An Avantex-Techtextil symposium on the newest technological developments will be presented at the same time.