BERLIN — Pick a city — any city. And a show — any show. The German trade fair scene has completely splintered, with more than nine apparel trade fairs, four of them new, scheduled in four German cities in January and February.
This story first appeared in the November 27, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
It looks like the more mainstream men’s and women’s wear market will be consolidated in Düsseldorf at the newly structured cpd Woman•Man Fair, but the race is on when it comes to makers of junior, jeans and contemporary fashion.
The former CPD women’s show turned dual gender and changed its name last season following the demise of Men’s Fashion Week in Cologne. Although many men’s manufacturers were skeptical about the move, support for Düsseldorf has grown. Manfred Kronen, chief executive of the Igedo Company which organizes cpd Woman•Man expects about 2,000 men’s and women’s exhibitors to show in the next edition Feb. 2 to 4 and hopes to equal August’s attendance figures of 60,000.
“Men’s wear is growing and growing and we’ve talked to all the majors,” Kronen said. Mounting bankruptcies mean some large German women’s exhibitors will be missing from the February cpd. “We’ll refill the space, that’s not the problem, but it’s a pity they’re no longer in business,” he noted.
To boost the show’s style profile, a women’s fashion plaza highlighting key trends will be inaugurated in February. And to further get the point across to buyers, Igedo has photographed a special women’s supplement to appear in Vogue Italia.
“We are trying to consolidate everything in Düsseldorf. Buyers don’t want and can’t afford to travel everywhere,” Kronen stated. Nevertheless, the current German show lineup asks forward fashion and jeanswear retailers to do just that.
Bread & Butter, the former Cologne “off show for selected brands” — that is, the hippest jeans and urban streetwear ranges — is moving to Berlin and an earlier time slot, Jan. 17 to 19.
“The off [season] show is becoming the on show,” said Kristyan Geyr, one of the event’s three founders. “We couldn’t remain an off show in Cologne when there was no real on show,” he continued. The other major reason for the move was that last year’s site, the Eckiger Rundbau was deemed unsafe by the Cologne building authorities and there wasn’t the time or funds to make the necessary repairs.
Now slated to be held in a 215,000-square-foot factory hall on the outskirts of Berlin, the new Bread & Butter aims to retain its edgy status and selective orientation, while now also allowing some larger and more commercial jeans and streetwear brands to join. Stand sizes, however, will be limited to 2,150 square feet.
“We intend to take care that it keeps its open charm and the feeling of community,” Geyr said. At press time, there were more than 100 confirmed exhibitors, including Adidas Sport Heritage, Aem’kei, Ben Sherman, Big Star, Edwin Japan, Etienne Ozeki, G Star, Le Coq Sportif, Levi’s Red and Levi’s Vintage, Lois, Nike, Puma and Ubi. Geyr forecasts about 200 companies will participate.
Berlin is a draw in itself, and the show’s timing — after Pitti Uomo on Jan. 9 to 12 and before Who’s Next on the 24 to 26 of that month — should be attractive to international buyers, he added. Bread & Butter is also in talks with WWDMagic, the Las Vegas show, about a possible exchange where each would present its concept at the other’s venue.
Running parallel to Bread & Butter, Premium Sportswear Couture, a show for “top national and international, innovative fashion brands” will make its premiere beneath the Potsdamer Platz subway stop in Berlin, in an underground space previously used for art exhibits. A maximum of 80 men’s and women’s exhibitors are expected to show, and AG (Adriano Goldschmidt), Fake, Bomb Boogie, Katherine Hamnett, Closed, Nuala and Buddhist Punk have already confirmed their participation, reported Anita Annic, one of the show’s organizers.
Meanwhile, back in Cologne, Vibes 4U — the new Interjeans, which fair organizers Cologne Messe presented last season (with some help from the Bread & Butter team) — is gearing up for its second season, scheduled for Jan. 31 to Feb. 2. Moreover, now that Bread & Butter has switched cities, the Cologne Messe cut through the red tape and jumped into the breach with “shake + quake — Offshow for special brands” to be held Jan. 31 to Feb. 2 in Bread & Butter’s old digs, the Eckigen Rundbau. The exhibitor target group here is “high-end collections and cult brands.”
While the Cologne fair organization said brands like Essenza, Madison Square, Santex, Little Big Horn and about 25 others had already signed up for Cologne, it could not say in which of the two shows they would be featured.
Special brands are also the focus of the new Düsseldorf show, Reevolutions, a joint venture between the Igedo Company and three fashion agents, Mark Grütters, Patrick Coppolecchia Reinartz and Eddi Mackowiak.
Reevolutions will be housed in circus tents close to the Düsseldorf fairgrounds from Feb. 1 to 4.
“The aim is to establish a new fair in the niche sector. It’s not only about street or young fashion, but, for example, we’re also talking to a firm that makes great gloves in Italy. We want to be able to show nonfashion products like knives or office accessories as well,” Grütters said.
“The trade is looking for such items that can create excitement, even on a small budget.” The plan calls for 60 to 80 exhibitors, 20 per tent.
Jeans manufacturers who haven’t opted for Vibes 4U or Bread & Butter can also show at cpdxsite, the Igedo’s Company’s year-old attempt to bring this fashion segment to Düsseldorf. Unlike Reevolutions, however, cpdxsite is integrated into the cpd family of fairs on the Düsseldorf fairgrounds and runs Feb. 2 to 4.
While all of the above-mentioned fairs encompass both men’s and women’s ranges, a new upmarket men’s show will also debut in Munich this season.
Slated for Jan. 19 to 21, Munich Fashion Fair expects to feature 30 to 40 “small but fine” men’s wear companies in the Munich art museum, Haus der Kunst.
Last but certainly not least, the active sportswear fair Ispo will again be held at the new Munich fairgrounds Feb. 1 to 4. Ispo has always included some crossover streetwear, as the latter category is heavily influenced and even driven by active makers. Peter Knoll, Ispo’s exhibition director, estimates that currently 5 percent of the show’s 40,000 retail visitors operate fashion shops.
That could increase come February. “Everybody needs direction these days and everybody is looking into sports active, as it’s the healthier side of the apparel business,” Knoll said. And the number of fashion buyers should definitely grow next summer, when Ispo introduces a new segment for high-quality streetwear and fashion called Ispo Vision during Ispo’s earlier summer slot, June 29 to July 1, 2003.
So if this winter’s new show entries survive what most observers say will be anything but an easy birth — given Germany’s continued financial doldrums and the economic downturn worldwide — Germany may soon have 10 trade shows competing for an ever-shrinking number of apparel manufacturers and buyers.