After the seismic changes of the last two seasons, the German trade show landscape is geographically consolidating in Düsseldorf, Munich and Berlin. Tweaks to the calendar and many new features, however, promise to give the upcoming round of shows a continued element of surprise. Ispo, the Munich active sportswear show, has pushed up its dates to June 29-July 1, now making it the German season opener. Next is Bread & Butter, the trade show for “urbanwear and street couture,” and the Premium Sportswear Couture exhibition, both running July 18-20 in Berlin.

And at the Düsseldorf mega fair cpd woman•man, the palette of product offerings continues to broaden. The Aug. 3-5 event, which just one year ago united women’s and men’s wear in Düsseldorf, now also will add sport fashion and children’s wear to its offerings of men’s, women’s, juniors, bridal and cocktail, body and beach fashion, plus accessories and fabrics.

Although business conditions at home remain difficult, and the repercussions of international crises like SARS are difficult to gauge, Germany’s trade show organizers are waxing positive about the season ahead. Most are projecting steady to slightly increasing attendance on the part of retailers, and exhibitor bookings are, at this stage, proceeding to plan.

A few projects, however, have been put on hold. Ispo Vision, a “new trade show for lifestyle in street, denim and club fashion,” which was to run concurrent with Ispo, has been postponed until next season. And the event has been reconceived as a platform where suppliers can present their latest display and POS concepts.

“It’s not a show, but a city for sportswear-inspired casual lifestyle brands that can demonstrate how to position themselves at POS. We talked to 30 to 40 leading manufacturers,” said Peter Knoll, Ispo’s project director, “but the timing was too short. We’re so early this year as it is, and we prefer not to rush. So we’re postponing it.”

Ispo, the active sportswear fair at the new Munich fairgrounds, will feature about 1,100 exhibitors on approximately 1 million square feet of exhibition space. “We see a consolidation toward the A brands, and we’ll probably have 90 percent of the top 30 brands in sports and sports fashion,” Knoll reported. Leading brands such as Adidas, Arena, Asics, Chiemsee, New Balance, Reebok, Nike,Speedo and Venice Beach have confirmed their participation in Munich. Their presence and the fair’s earlier timing means that “for the first time, Ispo will be a real launch platform for new products,” he stated.Apparel devoted to such sports as running, football, cycling, skateboarding and swimming will be shown in a show-within-a-show format. There is, however, no specific women’s sports segment.

“Women’s has been the talk of the town for the last two years, and you’ll hardly find a manufacturer not doing women’s these days. But we talked to makers and they said no to a women’s hall. The importance is to show relevance in one’s category,” Knoll said.

Bread & Butter Berlin surprised everyone, including the organizers, with the resounding success of its first show in Berlin last January. About 15,000 buyers made their way to Berlin for Bread & Butter’s mix of jeans and street fashion, and while there were calls to expand the show to accommodate demand, the BBB team has decided to keep the show at its current level of around 300 exhibitors.

“Is there enough space? No, but that’s the idea,” BBB co-founder Karl-Heinz Müller remarked. “This is very clearly a selective market and we want to keep it that way.” The summer edition will run July 18-20 in about 215,000 square feet of space in the old industrial Siemens Cableworks buildings in Spandau, an outer district of Berlin. But if Bread & Butter is situated in the middle of nowhere, visitors also will discover it’s just a short boat ride away from the Berlin airport. A boat shuttle service is being arranged, one of the playful extras that has made BBB so popular. The outdoors area surrounding the Cableworks is going to be transformed into a fun park this summer with an adjoining “summer camp” for those visitors who want to rough it.

Twenty thousand buyers are expected to attend Bread & Butter in July, which presents a mix of the trendsetting jeans — Sixty, Pepe, Levi’s Red and Edwin Japan, for example — to edgy newcomers such as Florida Schnitzel, Junk De Luxe and Arrogant Cat. This season, young designers will be integrated into the main show, and five will be awarded a grant to help them finance their stands.

In addition, Bread & Butter is organizing a “road show” for smaller brands after the July event. It will be an organized tour through Germany, Austria and Switzerland for 30 to 50 small companies that don’t have agents or the marketing clout to follow up on contacts made at Bread & Butter.Premium Sportswear Couture, which premiered last season with 70 selected brands in the subway tunnels underneath Potsdamer Platz, will be back July 18-20 with 120 to 130 labels this season. “The concept is to get even more high quality,” said organizer Anita Annic, who noted that the eveningwear Talbot Runhoff collection is among the newcomers for the July 18-20 edition.

A 50-50 mix of men’s and women’s wear companies, Premium Sportswear Couture features contemporary collections such as Betsey Johnson NY, Buddhist Punk, Closed, Juicy Couture, Mik Serfontaine, Puma Nuala and Tatami by Birkenstock. There is a strict buyers-only door policy, as the show is primarily a working/writing fair. Several fashion shows are being planned, though the location has not yet been determined, and the organizers are hoping to get permission to set up a tent above the tunnel entrance for a more summery catering setup.

The Igedo Company’s cpd woman•man show continues to morph into the department store of apparel fairs. After integrating men’s wear last summer, the megafair, which is housed in more than 2 million square feet of exhibition space on the Düsseldorf fairgrounds (plus additional showroom space in the two Düsseldorf Fashion Houses), is adding special sport and children’s wear segments to its Aug. 3-5 edition.

CPD Sport Fashion in Motion will feature between 50 and 100 sportswear collections that have an active lifestyle slant, such as La Coste, Chiemsee, Think Pink and Timberland. Some were already cpd exhibitors, but as Igedo head Manfred Kronen explained, it’s important to put them all together to make this direction — and its potential — more visible to the retailers. “When we started with accessories,” he added, “fashion stores weren’t selling accessories. Stores need to have an overview of all areas, and manufacturers are looking for new points of sales. The potential is there.”

Children’s wear, however, is a totally new entry into the world of cpd. “Major manufacturers asked us to do something, as they didn’t want to show together with hardwear [buggies, carseats, furniture, etc.] ranges in Cologne,” Kronen noted. He expects about 100 children’s wear makers to show in Düsseldorf this season.In the meantime, Messe Cologne, which will present Kind + Jugend July 4-6 at the Cologne fairgrounds, said the show will feature about 500 companies who produce children’s and maternity wear, along with other child-related products. The fair will be held in Halls 13 and 14, and boasts a total of almost 650,000 square feet. In 2004, the show will be pushed up to Jan. 9-10 and June 18-19.

Of all the German fairs, cpd is the one most vulnerable to the SARS crisis, as large groups from the affected regions in Asia have often showed in Düsseldorf. About 100 Chinese exhibitors had intended to show at cpd, some with very large stands, Kronen said. But, “if the situation isn’t brought under control, we won’t accept them. Just the possibility that there might be a health threat would be a big problem for our visitors,” he stated. But cpd has shown considerable flexibility in adjusting to the ups and downs of the market, and in this instance, “we’ll balance [the loss] with kids’ and sports,” he said.

The Igedo Company also organizes trade fairs in China, and the September Fashion China show in Shanghai may also fall victim to SARS. “We don’t know yet if we’ll even be permitted to stage a fair, or if anyone will be willing or allowed to travel.”

While the depressed German market isn’t helping business at home, Kronen noted that cpd’s nondomestic buyers help take up the slack. Thirty three to 35 percent of cpd’s 60,000 visitors come from abroad, and Kronen said he expects overall attendance to be steady next season. The show organization is also continuing to expand into other markets, and announced the launch of CPM- Collection Premiere Moscow Sept. 23-26.

Meanwhile, back in Düsseldorf, Reevolutions, a show of niche brands and a cooperation between the Igedo Company and a trio of agents, will be expanded for its August edition concurrent with cpd.

The Reevolutions tent will now be pitched directly on the Düsseldorf fairgrounds, and at 15,000 square feet, is more than double the size of its maiden run last season.Moreover, the exhibitor count has grown from 40 to 80, said organizer Mark Grütters, and will feature collections such as Dunlop, Woolrich, Toni Gard, Go and sneakers from Walsh.

“We’re striving for a lively mix of niche collections. Stores here in Germany are currently keen on widening their assortments, and they’re looking for things that stand out,” he said. Reevolutions also will be setting up a special area for “more designerish collections,” he said.

In the fabric market, Munich Fabric Start has quietly grown from a minipreview with 40 exhibitors seven years ago to a fabric fair of 500 participants and about 7,500 visitors. To be held Sept. 3-5 in Munich’s MOCcenter, the show features a 60-40 mix of women’s-men’s international fabric collections.

“We’re at the starting point of the European fabric show cycle, and while the collections often aren’t 100 percent complete, the buyers are used to it. They know they can start their work here, and finish up two weeks later in Paris [at Première Vision],” said the show’s spokesman.

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