By  on May 25, 2005

MADRID — Word that Berlin's trendy fashion event, Bread & Butter, is coming to Barcelona is old news by now. Instead, the talk has shifted to what Spanish trade show organizers are doing about it.

Flaque Internacional, organizer of Barcelona's twice-yearly BCN Fashion Week, took a surgical approach to the competition by canceling September's edition of BCN Showrooms, the week's traditional trade event. Although the Pasarela Gaudi catwalk presentations have more clout and remain scheduled for Sept. 19-22 at the Barcelona fairgrounds' Pabellon Z6, it's a clear indication that the Catalan capital's fashion week is on shaky ground.

According to figures released by Flaque Internacional, February's runway shows drew 31,000 spectators — down 7,000 from the September 2004 edition —and 900 journalists. However, an industry observer called the figures "exaggerated."

Paco Flaque, director, always has maintained Barcelona is a requisite on the global fashion circuit. With the advent of Bread & Butter's first Barcelona-based edition, Flaque has chosen to take the high road.

"Even though we have had to modify our program, Bread & Butter is not a threat to local fashion fairs, quite the contrary," he said. "It is an honor that Berlin organizers have selected Barcelona."

Of the trade show market in general, he concluded: "Trade fairs are shrinking; they're becoming more selective and, in my opinion, they are destined to disappear."

Bread & Butter will hold court July 8-10 in the Barcelona fairgrounds, and Berlin organizers say 15,000 visitors are expected to take in upward of 500 exhibitors of women's and men's apparel and accessories. The roster includes Spanish brands such as Custo Barcelona and Camper, neither of which is a regular in official Spanish fairs.

Pola Iglesias, director of SIMM, Madrid's biannual ready-to-wear show, said she is not worried about the imminent German competition "but it will keep us on our toes. We are making every effort to listen to the sector. At the moment, we detect that SIMM vendors want to see more international buyers, particularly from Latin America, Eastern Europe and Arab countries, and the U.S."

SIMM has responded to these demands with targeted marketing efforts conducted through Spanish trade offices abroad. "For instance, at the CPM [Moscow fair] in Russia, where Spanish clothing exports have doubled in the last two years, we are distributing promotional materials and invitations to the Madrid show in Russian," Iglesias said.

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