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FROM STARS TO HEROS: Germany is gearing up for its first fashion reality show Oct. 9 when private channel ProSieben sends out “Fashion Hero,” the German version of NBC’s now defunct “Fashion Star.” Claudia Schiffer tops the mentor list, joined by brand communication coach Uta Huesch and stylist Sascha Lilic. The buyers who will be bidding for the young designer looks are André Maeder, chief retail officer for Karstadt department stores; Petra Winter, creative director of S. Oliver, and Anne Rech, senior marketing and communications manager for Asos Germany.

In the show’s eight episodes, 21 young fashion makers, chosen by the Munich-based ProSieben team, will be presenting their designs of the week, and, as in the American original, must make a sale to make it to the next round. The program’s change of name doesn’t indicate a shift in format but was necessitated by German mass market retailer C&A’s existing Fashion Star trademark. Still, there are several deviations in the German version.

The final three contestants will be competing for the chance to produce and sell their own capsule collection to all three retailers worth 1.5 million euros, or about $2 million at current exchange, compared to the top U.S. prize of $6 million. Plus one of the retailers, S. Oliver, isn’t a retailer per se at all, but one of Germany’s leading apparel makers. Till now, S. Oliver hasn’t sold anything other than its own house brands in the more than 250 company owned and 325 partner stores.

Is this the start of something new for the German ready to wear giant, which chalked up 1.54 billion euros, or $1.98 billion, in 2012 brand sales? “Maybe,” said Mokhtar Benbouazza, head of marketing. “We have to see how it works.”

Karstadt, the department store chain, which just sold its three premium and 28 sports stores to the Austrian Signa Group, sees “Fashion Hero” as a great platform to show that Karstadt is here, alive and moving forward,” Maeder told WWD. In its recent modernizing efforts, Karstadt has added over 100 labels to its assortment, while participation in “Fashion Hero” was also a means “to further modernize and get ipads into all the [83 Karstadt] stores,” Maeder added. All the “Fashion Hero” selections Maeder bought, as well as the winning capsule collection will be available in-store in 25 Karstadt doors, and online, with additional POS/iPad support in the remaining doors.

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