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Live and Let Live

German organizers put animosity aside and work to improve their shows.

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German organizers put animosity aside and work to improve their shows.

BERLIN — After several seasons of uncertainty and uproar, the German women’s trade fair scene is entering a quieter phase of consolidation and continuity.

Scheduling conflicts among rival shows have been resolved (for this season, at least) and worries that new events like Bread & Butter Barcelona would weaken the home team have been put aside. Although competition remains brisk, show producers are spending less time and energy talking down their rivals and more on sharpening the profile, range and services of their respective fairs.

Less than a week after the World Cup final, Berlin will host a trio of trade shows and multiple fashion week events July 14-16. As an added attraction — or distraction — the Love Parade is also scheduled that weekend, offering insight into partying dress codes for today’s German youth.

Bread & Butter is rearranging its floor plan at the Siemens Kabelwerk complex in Spandau with a few slight changes. The “fashion hall” has been relocated to the front. Milk & Honey, the women’s-only segment, will be cozier, more intimate and more progressive. The departure of a non-fashion renter in part of the Siemens space has allowed the core denim hall to be slightly expanded. The separate KA128 loft space introduced last season will remain limited to 60 high-end exhibitors, featuring designers and hip classics like RedWing shoes, according to segment coordinator Fares Gabriel Hadid. Hadid also heads the men’s and women’s “Superior” area, which, in addition to California premium denim brands, aims to pull in names like Custo, D², Paul Smith and Neil Barrett.

Also part of the 600-exhibitor mix at Bread & Butter are the newly named Street Culture; Urban Elegance; Very Kids, for the club generation’s fashionable offspring, and the conceptual BBB Studio02. There, 25 interviews with “key thinkers” like Hussein Chalayan will be presented in an architectural setting surrounded by stands for edgy labels such as Wendy & Jim and Unconditional.

Bread & Butter founder and chief executive Karl-Heinz Müller expects denim to remain a strong feature at the show. “A bit cooler and a bit less used,” he said, but with French, English and other top American brands vying with the L.A. leaders. “Berlin will continue to be strongly international in its exhibitor mix, and it’s also become more quality-oriented. The North European brands are more high-quality,” he noted.

Premium is consolidating and branching out at the same time. The men’s and women’s fashion platform, geared to trendy upper-end specialty store retailers, will now house all its approximately 650 exhibitors in the Station at Gleisdreick. The original Premium tunnel will be reserved for fashion shows and events. “It’s all one big Premium now,” commented co-founder and director Anita Bachelin.

She said the show is attracting “extreme interest from young designers from all over the world,” and added that Premium has always prided itself on its international buyer profile. “But it also helps that the domestic market is now into Berlin as well. [German buyers] weren’t at first, but this has changed.”

Shows held in conjunction with Berlin Fashion Week, which Premium co-organizes, are in the planning stage. Berlin Fashion Week has enlisted New York’s International Management Group to oversee the shows, though “it’s very early. Nothing has been fixed,” Bachelin said.

Premium also offers platforms for its exhibitors in Düsseldorf and Munich during the ordering rounds there. About 60-70 brands participated in Düsseldorf and 40 in Munich last season. “It makes sense for buyers to first come to Berlin to look and get informed, and then go to Düsseldorf and Munich to write,” Bachelin asserted.

Premium is moving outside Germany and will inaugurate Red Aug. 23-25 in Moscow. Red is designed specifically for the Russian market, and 1,500 Russian buyers have been invited to the event in Red Square. Bachelin expects 80 Premium labels to participate.

Berlin’s 5th Floor show has been conceptually revamped and will move into new quarters on the Berlin fairgrounds in its second edition, July 14-15. “Retailers are looking for trendier labels in Berlin, and so 5th Floor will be based on labels to watch in combination with more commercial, trendy labels,” director Karola Schöwe said. The show had previously been focused on export-oriented European women’s wear brands.

Working with trend consultants, 5th Floor will pick a key theme each season that will not only set the tone but determine the overall visual display of the fair — and, Schöwe hopes, provide retailers with some inspiration for their own shop display. She wouldn’t reveal spring’s theme. “We want the effect of surprise, but the entire hall, even the stands, will be designed. There won’t be a fair element to be seen,” she said.

Next on the German trade show lineup is ISPO, the major sports equipment and apparel fair, in Munich July 16-18. About 1,000 exhibitors will be on hand for the spring-summer edition, which will feature new areas for kite surfing and triathlon. Other growth areas are Greenhouse, for outdoor apparel, and Seedbed, for streetwear brands; ISPO will also showcase sports apparel with wearable technology and integrated electronics.

Ispovision, the independent trade show “for fashion and lifestyle inspired by sports,” continues to expand. Beach style and outdoor style will be added to the spring-summer offerings, which include yachting, golf and premium-sports style segments.

One week later, July 23-25, the focus will shift to Düsseldorf, where the mega CPD show continues to fine-tune its hall concepts. For the first time, Body Look, the intimate apparel trade show acquired last year by the Igedo Co., will be held on the Düsseldorf fair grounds as a separate show-within-a-show.

“Body Look was a major regional show in Leipzig, and we’re pleased to stage it here as an international event,” said Wolfgang Mey, director of domestic fairs for Igedo, organizer of CPD.

He said a big investment had been made in outfitting Night & White, the evening- and bridalwear segment, which is traditionally strong in spring. Last season’s premiere of Style & Signatures met with very positive response, and Mey said the open, loft-like setup for progressive labels might “possibly be expanded” beyond Hall 13.

The Modern Women halls, 10 and 11, which many complained were still lackluster, are being redesigned with a big communications area.

Hall 9, formerly reserved for men’s wear, which will now be presented in a parallel fair, HMD (Herren Mode or Men’s Fashion Düsseldorf), will also have a new look and focus in July. Called CPD Campus, it will feature women’s casual- and leisurewear, as well as provide a showplace for franchisers.

Closing the season Aug. 12-15, Munich Fashion Fair WoMan can no longer be considered a small niche fair. Last February, it grew to 290 collections, and managing director George von Berger expects that number to double this season or next, whenever the show is able to find a larger venue and increase capacity. A decision on a new location will be made in the coming weeks, according to von Berger.

“In the long term, we can gain ground as an international platform. We have so many labels, it can be a good working fair for international buyers,” von Berger said. It’s geared to high-end retailers, and many agencies take part with diversified ranges of accessories, shoes, bags and jewelry in addition to apparel. “So, in the end, a retailer can find everything he or she wants in Munich,” he said.

For newcomers and foreign labels that want to test Munich, the fair is offering mini stands at a flat rate of 1,200 euros. According to von Berger, large agencies will be showing in Munich this summer, and there has also been a lot of interest from small, trendy labels.

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