BERLIN — Unforeseen volcanic clouds excluded, Germany’s trade show organizers — especially those in Berlin — are projecting a clear takeoff into the next round of fairs for the spring 2011 season.
This story first appeared in the May 19, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Despite a spate of manufacturer bankruptcies, the insolvency and ensuing uncertainty surrounding Germany’s 120-door Karstadt department store chain, pressured margins and other ongoing challenges, 2009 was a “spectacularly normal year” for Germany’s apparel retailers, the German Association of Apparel Retailers said. Moreover, according to the German Retail Federation, German retail business this spring has improved by 19 percent since summer 2009, and 41 percent of retailers now view their situation as better than last year.
Leading financial analysts also expect Germany’s economy to improve in the next six months, according to a study by the Center for European Economics in Munich. The group also points to improved consumer sentiment, as have the most recent consumer climate reports from market research firm GfK.
And even under less auspicious signs, the majority of German trade fairs had a strong showing last January and are projecting more of the same this summer.
“We’re not changing anything, just working on it further,” said Karl-Heinz Müller, founder and director of Germany’s booming trade show Bread & Butter. This season, the show will add a new section, Kids Camp, which will offer about 60 to 70 kids’ and pre-teen ranges, mostly from existing B&B exhibitors, in a separate new home under a 21,500-square-foot circus tent.
“There’s a big business in kids’ wear, and all of our customers asked us to do something,” he said. The overall exhibitor count is expected to remain around 600, and while Müller won’t talk numbers (sources estimate 90,000 attended the January show), he’s forecasting a big jump in international attendance, particularly from America and Asia.
Meeting retailers’ more emotive needs has always been part of the B&B agenda, and so it’s no surprise that soccer fans will be well catered to when the soccer World Cup semifinals kick off on B&B opening day. A half-regulation-size field with bleachers seating 2,500 to 3,000 and a mega 675-square-foot screen will be set up, and when the game is over, three bands will hit the stage.
Premium is also in expansive spirits as the show gears up for its 10th anniversary. “We didn’t expect to be where we are in 2010,” said Premium co-founder and co-director Anita Tillmann. Pending the approval of a building permit to enlarge the last hall by about 21,500 square feet, this may mean “squeezing the booths a bit” in July to make room for additions to Premium’s portfolio of about 900 contemporary men’s and women’s apparel and accessories brands.
Through its 12-member buyers management team, “We hear from retailers that Berlin is very important,” she said. “The total number of collections to be seen [in Berlin at all the events] is unbeatable.”
She further noted that the premium fashion segment was the only one to show growth during the economic crisis — and suffered fewer bankruptcies and store closures than the rest of the market.
The green fashion scene also is growing in Berlin. The more upmarket Greenshowroom is returning to the five-star Hotel Adlon Kempinski after a winter season in Paris, and the third edition of TheKeyTo will again be housed in the Heeresbackerei. TheKeyTo is opening a new area for lifestyle products and is expecting a total of 80 to 90 exhibitors, up from about 55 last season. The event is also extending its program of speakers and workshops, offering a six-day program on sustainable fashion.
Also back for its third Berlin edition is the intimate apparel fair 5 elements.berlin, and, after a season’s break, Boudoir also plans to stage a special runway event.
New to the capital fashion scene is Bright, the former Frankfurt-based fair for skateboarding, sneakers and streetwear. Now in its 10th edition, Bright will take over the former Stasi (state security) headquarters in Berlin for its show of 300 international brands. Founder and ceo Marco Aslim predicts more than half of Bright’s 5,000 trade visitors will come from outside Germany.
On the other hand, JAM, the more midmarket jeans and sportswear fair, is returning to Munich July 18 and 19 after testing the Berlin waters last January. “Buyers and manufacturers said they need a quiet platform where the product and orders are in the foreground, especially in southern Germany,” JAM executive Günther Sommer said.
In Düsseldorf, CPD is sticking to its roots and focusing on established successes like its Fashion Gallery, Big is Beautiful and accessories segments. Plans to launch “Impulse. The Showroom,” for more fashion-forward firms, have been shelved because the chosen venue could not be guaranteed for more than one season and organizers could not find alternatives.