BERLIN — Organizers of the Bread & Butter trade show said the Berlin edition will be smaller going forward.
During a news conference on the final day of the fair last week, Karl Heinz Müller, one of the show’s managing directors, said selectivity will be the focus of the fair here next season. Bread & Butter Barcelona will continue to grow to include a new section for higher-end urbanwear, while Berlin will narrow to between 400 and 500 exhibitors.
“We want to build up a more specialized event and invite like-minded labels which fit together culturally,” Müller said. “It’s like a party. You want the right people who know how to dance, sing and have a good time.”
Although attendance at Bread & Butter and Premium was down from last season — Bread & Butter reported 20,000 visitors and Premium 15,000 — exhibitors said they were pleased with the quality of visitors. Heiner Sefranek, chief executive officer of Mustang, said his stand was busier then ever, particularly with business from Asia. The company is hoping to grow by 5 to 6 percent in 2006.
“A quieter fair means we have more time for people,” said Denis Mauske, the German distributor for Nudie jeans, noting that Nudie has seen growth of 30 percent per season in Germany in the last few years. “It suits us, because we are very selective with our outlets anyway.”
Cleaner, darker and slimmer was the verdict for spring and summer denim for 2007 at the show, which ran here for three days ending Sunday.
Despite fears of an imminent end to the denim boom, new silhouettes and more sophisticated washes are set to bring renewed energy into the market. Manufacturers agreed that the narrow leg, which appeared in the mainstream about a year ago, has now fully established itself.
“The drainpipe is definitely here to stay and has completely replaced the boot cut,” said Aemkei designer Eva Renes.
Jeans have gotten slimmer across the board, with Scandinavian brands such as Nudie, which went skinny as early as 2000, going as far as stretch leggings-style jeans.
Pepe’s Eighties-inspired, supertight drainpipe appears more like pantyhose than trousers, and even more traditional brands such as Mustang have moved away from the boot cut to a straighter, slimmer leg.
The most adventurous brands are going a step further by moving to a carrot fit. Lee’s new Protest line, inspired by the Sixties antiwar movement, are baggy around the thigh and narrow at the ankle. With an extremely high rise, the jeans can be worn low on the hips, giving a baggy crotch, while a twisted, reconstructed seam makes the fit more flattering. Aemkei is also bringing waists up and using a carrot cut, although the rise is not yet as high as it could be.
“High waists are not our most commercial line, but we want to show the direction,” said Renes. “We may not yet be up to the navel, but by winter of 2007 and 2008 we will be.”
Nudie is also experimenting with a high-rise carrot fit worn low on the hips or high on the waist.
“This is a bit braver and much less commercial,” Mauske said.
Pepe is getting playful with skinny three-quarter lengths with a waist as high as an Empire line, paired with a cropped gingham blouse.
While waists have moved up, and the days of very low-rise seemingly past, labels such as Erwin, Mavi and Mustang are playing safe by keeping to a moderately low or medium-rise.
“Women don’t want a high waist,” said Serdar Mazmanoglu, a member of Mavi’s board. “It’s just not flattering.”
Selling high-waist styles has been difficult for Lee, as well.
“Last year, with our first Lee Gold collection, we went up to the navel with a Marilyn Monroe-inspired fit, but it didn’t work,” said Simon Overhaus, a sales representative for Lee in Germany. “It was just too early for that.”
Many labels also stressed the increasing importance of lighter cotton fabrics.
“We believe that light cotton mixes, such as gabardine, twill and linen mixes, will become a big theme,” said Holger Hirsch, managing director of Timezone. “Denim will remain important, but less so than before.”
Aemkei agrees, with 80 percent of the collection now made up of light cotton mixes. And Mustang, while stressing that denim remains its core product, has also increased an emphasis on flat cottons, with faded patchwork skirts and pinstripe chinos.
Whatever the fabric, the connection among them is a cleaner, more sophisticated finish. Heavy distressed washes have been replaced by light rinses or unwashed selvage, and detailing is subtle, such as black-on-black stitching, or a discreet lace trim on the inside of waistbands.
Colors are equally muted, with faded olive and mud tones at Mustang, or pastels at Aemkei. Nudie is one of the few manufacturers committing to bright colors with canary yellow or bright red drainpipes.
“It’s almost a Nineties color, except this time round, the boot cut has gone, and the denim is much lighter — 10 or 11 ounces, instead of 13,” Mauske said.
With its new Blue Bella collection, Wrangler is rediscovering a bright Seventies-inspired blue. Shades of gray are also popular. Lee has introduced a gray-washed-down-from-indigo denim, with the blue still visible underneath, and Aemkei ranges from a bluish “summer gray” to a plaster white.
The all-in-one, workwear-inspired look is also important, whether it be matching denim waistcoats at Pepe, slouchy hipster dungarees at Mavi or jumpsuits at Aemkei. Another variation is suspenders. At Lee, denim suspenders are paired with carrot-fit jeans, while Pepe paired them with HotPants.