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Bread & Butter Goes Beyond Basics

Many brands deeply rooted in the denim business spotlighted nondenim items for fall.

Appeared In
Special Issue
WWDStyle issue 02/16/2011

BERLIN — Rugged cords and chinos joined fall’s storm of denim jeans at Bread & Butter, as many brands deeply rooted in the denim business spotlighted nondenim items for fall.

Rolled-up chinos, as well as suede, velvet, corduroy and cargo pants paired with plaid button-downs, heavy knits and fur-lined parkas for men and women were key trends at the three-day trade fair that ended Jan. 21 at Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport. The mood was upbeat, with manufacturers noting that retailers and consumers seem to be in a spending mood.

“Customers already own plenty of denim, and women have been wearing leggings for so long,” said Natasha Edginton of Monkee Genes, a U.K.-based label.

Known for its skinny colored jeans, Monkee Genes has added utility-inspired alternatives like khaki, olive and gray chinos to its offerings for fall.

Closed’s nondenims have also gained momentum compared with the German label’s jeans range, and the new collection features beige chinos, rust red shaded cords and tweed trousers.

Besides its stand at B&B, Guess Jeans was a first-timer on the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin runway. The Back to the Roots collection presented denim jackets, shirts and overalls layered under rugged nondenim pieces, like hooded parkas and leopard coats, topped off with trapper hats and fur muffs.

True Religion was another brand alluding to its history in three new lines dubbed Torque, Phantom and Vintage. Features include twisted side seams hinting to the brand’s first jeans style, coated finishes disguising the standard denim fabric, vintage buttons made from Seventies recycled tin cans and corduroy. Targeted at limited premium doors, the three additional groups carry a hefty price tag, retailing from 300 euros to 400 euros, or $408 to $544 at current exchange.

Manufacturers, however, suggested product was more important than price this season. Robert Hanson, president of the global Levi’s brand, said, “Consumers are going to choose a product if they love it. We focus on innovating our product, making sure the consumer can see the value in it.”

Hanson reported heavy traffic at the brand’s two separate stands on the first two days of B&B, expecting to almost double attendance compared with last year’s January edition. Levi’s denim category still contributes the lion’s share of the company’s revenue, but “nondenim is certainly growing,” he said.

Hanson added, “We don’t want to say, ‘Here is the trend,’ and even if this block wasn’t fit to your body, fit your body into it. We say, ‘You can have a slight, a demi or a bold curve, you can have a skinny leg opening to a flare or a boot cut.’ That’s our major innovation.”

While slimmer denim styles for men surfaced at Levi’s and True Religion, the women’s story for fall seems to be anything goes.

“The denim industry has been arrogant for a long time,” said Christian Brogi, head designer of Turkish label Cross, which has expanded its range of fits.

“It’s about what works on one’s body rather than what’s on trend,” said Tribeca’s new creative director Sam Frenzel, adding that while cords will never fully replace denim, they’re an addition.”

Brigitte Seefelder, owner of Seefelder Mode, a premium store in Kempten, Germany, said, “Cropped tops are a trend for fall. But this means that there is a lot of emphasis on the body shape. So women shouldn’t try to fit into any style of jeans just because they’re of the minute, but rather pick the silhouette that works for their body.”

Cropped jackets also popped up at Gas and on the runway at G-Star, together with low-rise denims and chinos.

The young Stockholm-based casual fashion and skater brand WeSC showed a plethora of chinos at B&B and at the skater fair Bright, which was held for the second time in Berlin last week.

David Hirschhäuser, key account manager of Seven For All Mankind in Germany, noted that there were “definitely more requests for slim men’s jeans,” although, for women, “all fits work. It’s very much a female consumer’s choice next season.”