A road-weary trade show is coming home.
This story first appeared in the May 2, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
In the 11 years since it started, Bread & Butter has moved from Cologne to Berlin to Barcelona and back to Berlin. But the denim, sportswear and street fashion trade show is moving no more.
Bread & Butter founder and managing director Karl-Heinz Müller said the trade show is committed to Berlin and has a contract to stay at the Airport Berlin-Tempelhof, where it has been housed for six editions so far, for 17 more years. The airport, which Müller called the third-largest building in the world after the Great Wall of China and the Pentagon, stretches for 0.8 miles and boasts 7.5 million square feet of exhibiting space for Bread & Butter. “We feel very good there,” he said.
While the venue isn’t changing, Bread & Butter is making improvements. New areas of the trade show — the accessory-focused Treasury and the “dressed up” fashion enclave Urban Superior are among them — will be expanded for the next show, which runs July 4 to 6. For the next market, Müller said the goal is to make “a huge denim statement.”
The tweaks to B&B continue. Müller said he’d like to dedicate 32,000 to 43,000 square feet to “experimental things,” singling out denim designer Scott Morrison of 3×1 as an example, along with fabric suppliers to give buyers and the press a glimpse at cutting-edge brands and the fabrics behind them. “Our job at the fair is really to bring people together,” said Müller.
Müller recalled that B&B attempted to attract fabric suppliers a few years back, but it didn’t work out that well as they tend to concentrate on Première Vision in Paris. Undeterred, Müller stated that bringing in a handful of key denim fabric suppliers would add an important dimension to Bread & Butter. Rather than focusing on sales, their focus would be “just to be there to show what is possible,” he said.
Bread & Butter has experienced success at Airport Berlin-Tempelhof, even as European economies struggle. At its last show in January, attendance climbed 3.5 percent. Bread & Butter reported higher visitor totals from Asia, Germany, Eastern Europe and Russia, although there were slight declines in buyer traffic from the southern European markets of Italy, Spain and Greece.
About 92,500 tickets were sent to buyers and other industry professionals prior to the event, and more than 600 brands presented their wares at Bread & Butter. That’s a world away from July 2001, when the first Bread & Butter show had 50 exhibitors and 5,000 visitors.
Müller considers 14 Oz., the store he opened in Cologne in 1999 and relocated to Berlin in 2008 after a five-year hiatus, the parent of Bread & Butter. In it, he sells a curated selection of denim. Müller is opening a second 14 Oz. location, also in Berlin, this October, but has no plans to spread beyond the city. “Our aim is just to stay really in Berlin,” he said.
Müller, whose passion for denim dates back to the days he was a sales representative for Levi’s 30 years ago and who dreamt of owning a store with the best denim brands long before 14 Oz. was a reality, recounted the various denim movements throughout the history of jeans, including their American beginnings with Levi’s, Lee and Wrangler, the rise of Italian brands with the likes of Diesel and Replay, and the contemporary Los Angeles-led invasion of premium denim labels such as J Brand, Seven For All Mankind and Current/Elliott, and wondered what the future holds for denim. “The next wave is really missing, but I think denim has always [had] waves,” he said.