By  on November 23, 2005

The right mix of exhibitors and proper timing can make or break an event.

BERLIN — With German trade show competition at an all-time high, organizers are tweaking their calendars and strategies to find the optimal time slot and exhibitor mix.

The major Berlin fairs — Bread & Butter, Premium, B-in-Berlin and the new 5th Floor — have moved their schedules closer together. Bread & Butter, originally slated to close the season Feb. 2-4, will instead open the trade show calendar, bringing up to 600 denim, street, urban, sports and contemporary men's, women's and kids' wear makers to show at the Siemen's Kabelwerk complex in Spandau Jan. 27-29.

Premium (at The Station at Gleisdreick), B-in-Berlin and 5th Floor (both at the Berlin fairgrounds) all will be held Jan. 29-31, and the three fairs also have joined forces to organize Berlin Fashion Week, which will run Jan. 26-Feb. 1. Berlin Fashion Week aims to place the city in the spotlight by organizing fashion shows and serving as an umbrella for the assorted events and parties running parallel to the Berlin trade shows.

A newspaper in English and German listing all scheduled events will be sent to 40,000 retailers in Europe to help get the word out, and 800 free flights are being arranged for selected press and retailers.

"We don't intend to leave anything to chance," said Norbert Tillmann, Premium co-chief executive officer and a Berlin Fashion Week organizer.

Contrary to the popular saying, timing isn't everything. Content is also extremely important, and the fairs have been busy expanding and fine-tuning their assortments. New at Bread & Butter is Urban Elegance, featuring hip fashion for young professionals, and veryKids in the children's wear sector, which includes Diesel Kids and Oilily.

The former fashion show hall is being totally revamped as KA128, a galleried space housing "five-star" denim and other high-end fashion brands in a showroom-style setup of more than 32,000 square feet. There will also be a design area called BBB Studio 02, presenting the work of innovative interior and product designers working under the theme "How would you redesign the world?"Premium will also offer a multisectored world of men's and women's contemporary and designer fashion, split into the categories Premium, Premium +, PremiumFire and Salon Berlin. Next season, they are all being brought together under one roof in the Premium Station, a former postal freight train station. The space, two subway stops from Potsdamer Platz, has been expanded from about 120,000 square feet to approximately 190,000 square feet, and will feature some 600 fashion, accessories and lifestyle brands, many of which show exclusively in Europe at Premium.

Premium, however, is not completely abandoning its former digs in the tunnel below Potsdamer Platz. The underground space will be remodeled to house temporary Premium showrooms Jan. 28-Feb. 1, and will remain open a day before and a day after the trade show round.

"There are a lot of high-quality brands that don't want to be seen in a fair context and/or need a separate place to write orders," said Anita Bachelin, Premium co-ceo.

The more commercial men's wear fair, B-in-Berlin, is entering its third season at the Berlin fairgrounds. In the past, women's wear was included in the B-in-Berlin show, but January will see the premier of a brand new venue for women's fashion at the Berlin fairgrounds called 5th Floor (though some men's wear labels who also do women's lines will continue to show both at B-in-Berlin). The 5th Floor show will serve as a platform for export-oriented European women's wear brands, and has already signed on Marc Aurel, Passport, Olsen, Bianca, Oui, Rosner, Brax, Mac, Sandwich, Blacky Dress, Jean Paul and More & More.

About 50 selected middle- to upper-end European exhibitors will show at the inaugural 5th Floor, said the show's director, Karola Schöwe. "There was no show for modern but more commercial women's fashion [here in Berlin]. The base was missing. We need Premium to communicate the trends, and Premium needs us to fill out the visitor population. It's a new situation in Berlin," she said.

After sitting out last season, Euro Fashion Week is looking to reenter the Berlin calendar Jan. 29-31. The organizers are shopping for a central location for this small show of international designers from India, Malta, Austria, Belgium and Eastern Europe. If a site is found, Euro Fashion Week will keep late hours, staying open until 10 p.m. so that retailers can stop by after the other fairs have closed, a spokesman said.Outside of Berlin, Munich will once again be the active sportswear capital of Europe when the biggest-ever Ispo takes over the New Munich Trade Fair Centre Jan. 29-Feb. 1. More than 1,800 exhibitors and about 60,000 trade visitors are expected to attend the active sportswear megashow. Vendors include ski, snowboard, outdoor and sportswear, while the separate IspoVision focuses on active-oriented brands that do much of their business in the fashion market, such as Bogner, Rossignol and Escada Sport.

This season, five next-generation promotional projects will be presented at Ispo to showcase young designers and start-up companies. SkiLift and Greenhouse will showcase young brands in the ski area and outdoor segments, respectively. Board Ispo Seed Bed continues to offer independent sportswear brands with links to board sports, as does Rider Owned Brands for products from professional snowboarders. The show's start-up contest, Ispo Brand New, will bring production innovations and creative ideas to public attention. In addition, the German Apparel Industry Foundation will present a special Fashion Branding award at Ispo for its European Design Contest under the motto "Local-Global."

The other German megashow, CPD, which drew 44,000 buyers and 1,500 exhibitors to Düsseldorf last season, is set to run Feb. 5-7. Igedo Co., the fair's organizer, is striving to further upgrade its offerings for fall. "Now it's the race for brands," said Igedo managing director Margit Jandali. "It's important to have new brands at CPD and give buyers new ideas. Years ago we worked on American brands, and buyers were afraid to touch them. But that's all changed, and retailers are now searching for something others don't have."

Jandali believes most buyers are "cross-buying a patchwork of companies," and that CPD is well suited to meet the needs of these buyers with the show's mixed bag of resources and departments. Igedo has put a lot of effort into sharpening CPD's assortment and creating logical and attractive groupings of resources, such as the Fashion Gallery in Hall 14, which houses more up-market brands as well as so-called avant-garde or New Age collections. CPD will also launch a new project for progressive labels called Style and Signatures. Brands being considered for this section include offerings from Denmark and Holland, such as Sandwich and Stills, as well as American designers. The area will have a loft look, separate catering, a DJ, fashion decorations and hostesses controlling buyer entry.Munich Fashion Fair Woman closes the German apparel trade show round Feb. 18-21. "We had a super breakthrough last season, and grew from 120 to 190 exhibitors," said George von Berger, Munich Fashion Fair's managing director.

The women's show, the younger sister of the well-established and very service-oriented Munich Fashion Fair for men, is poised to outpace that main event.

"We had 100 percent more visitors last fair and all were writing," von Berger said. The February edition is expected to feature 220 to 250 international women's wear lines, both classic and "totally trendy" brands geared to high-end specialty stores.

"Munich has always been an important ordering date, but many companies and agents who were formerly scattered in showrooms and hotels are now more interested in being at the fair," he said. "They see they can really generate more turnover."

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