FASHION TURNS GREEN
BERLIN — Ecological fashion is getting a home of its own at the upcoming CPD show.
After a successful trial run with a fashion/ecology presentation at the February and August Mode Berlin trade fairs last year, the Igedo company has decided to introduce a separate Fashion & Ecology section at CPD. Conceived as both a fashion and information platform for this growing niche market, this section will have about 30 European firms in Hall 3 presenting their environmentally friendly fall-winter collections, while suppliers of raw materials and service companies will distribute information on ecological issues in the apparel industry.
For the apparel makers, CPD’s Fashion & Ecology section provides an important opportunity to publicly shed their “muesli image” and bring their ecological fashion message to a wider retail public. Many of Hall 3’s exhibitors sell primarily to natural clothing shops, which are often extensions of natural food shops. While previously conventional apparel retailers may not have had sufficient interest to root out environmentally conscious lines among CPD’s 2,000 exhibitors, it is hoped that power in numbers will, among other things, help draw them in.
Koppenborg Naturkleidung, Ruppichteroth, a maker of natural apparel since 1991, previously exhibited in the Young Fashion Hall 10. “By our standards, we have enough customers and don’t have to be aggressive. Our stand in Hall 10 was well situated, and we always had good reaction,” said the company’s owner, Bernhard Koppenborg. “But showing together will help enhance the status of ecological fashion and show a retailer how he can have it in his store. It always had this muesli image, and now we can show what a wide choice there is,” he said.
“Surely it helps that we’re in a group,” said Peter Rossler, director of Tebaron Natur, Osnabruck, and a second-time CPD exhibitor with his natural knitwear line. But for Rossler, the added value in showing together is that “as a group, we have the power to give our views to our suppliers. Otherwise, they just say they’re not interested.”
“We’re hoping not only to meet old customers, but to work very closely with the competition as well,” said Derek Swiney, sales manager of Cotton Country, Oyten. “We produce and sell cotton to our competitors,” he explained, “and at the moment, it’s a very nice, friendly situation.”
Cotton Country also produces cotton apparel. It began with innerwear and branched out into a jeans collection, towels, bathrobes and outdoor apparel. The company, which expects to double 1994’s 2.6 million DM ($1.5 million at current rates) in sales this year, will also begin producing small seasonal collections.
“Our approach is very basic, with items you can wear year to year without throwing them away, which is, after all, the ecological idea. But ecology has been done so badly up to now,” Swiney stated. “We’re happy if conventional stores do it, even just a corner. People are becoming more professional, building up nice shops, opening up the market.”
Greenworld by Kromer, based in Trochtelfingen, has gone after fashion rather than specialized “oko” ecological stores from the start, selling to Ludwig Beck in Munich, for example, as well as the Otto Versand catalog house. “We’re different from the others in that we always said we’re making fashion,” co-owner Paul Kromer said.
Key fall-winter themes at Greenworld, a complete knit collection, include a slim ankle-length ribbed skirt worn with a loose, sweatshirt-like plush pullover; plaid miniskirts paired with short jackets, over-the-knee socks, caps and gauntlets; pastels; folkloric jacquards and a “nature pure” group of undyed wool sweaters. “But don’t worry,” said co-owner and designer Barbel Kromer. “This is not an oko look.”