Bread & Butter’s move to Berlin brought with it a more business-like attitude from Europe’s young fashion buyers last week.
Although some UK brands skipped the show this season, multi-brand multiples from House of Fraser to Republic and USC all made the trip to Germany along with leading UK indies such as Middlesbrough’s Van Mildert, Diffusion in Birmingham, Xile in Edinburgh and Richmond Classics in Bournemouth, Dorset.
Overall attendance at the show appeared to be down against last July’s event, but direct comparisons are difficult given that the show has relocated from Barcelona to Berlin. Figures from B&B were not available as Drapers went to press.
Exhibitors and buyers were generally positive about the new venue at Tempelhof Airport, and the protesters who last week told Drapers they would demonstrate outside the show against the site being used for trade shows failed to turn up in any significant numbers.
Nick Preston, brand manager at young fashion chain Republic, said: “The show was great. It feels really fresh being back in Berlin.”
Stuart Gordon, owner of menswear indie Apache in Horsham in West Sussex, said he liked the fact the new venue required buyers to walk past every stand and through every hall. He said: “The layout makes you have to think again. You have to plan more of what you are doing.”
Exhibitors agreed that overall the Berlin event and venue had been a success and that the atmosphere had been more conducive to doing genuine business.
Julian Dunkerton, owner of young fashion brand Superdry and the Cult Clothing chain, said: “We got another 140 accounts in Germany. We opened accounts in Singapore, the Middle East and other areas that we don’t have covered. Numbers were down but we had a great show, and all the key UK people were there.”
Mark Ashton, UK agent for young fashion brand Ichi, added: “Footfall was down about 30% for us against Barcelona and there was a lack of southern Europeans, but there were more Germans. We opened 60 new doors.”
Tony Greenfield, managing director of Rocket Dog Brands International, which showed footwear brand Rocket Dog, said: “We were a little apprehensive to see if our usual visitors would make the journey back to Berlin after the wonderful Barcelona location, but we were really pleased with our visitor numbers and the orders we took.”
Womenswear business Oui Group’s chief executive Alon Junger, who showed the Set brand at B&B, said the show had been worthwhile and had attracted serious buyers from the UK store groups.
The next B&B Berlin takes place from January 20-22.
Bread & Butter: the Drapers verdict
The move to Berlin was a brave decision by Bread & Butter organiser Karl-Heinz Müller and although attendance was down, the relocation paid off in business terms.
British brands benefited from exhibiting in a northern European country where tastes are more similar to the UK market. Those with a small account base in Germany saw export sales to that market for spring 10 rise significantly - a real positive in the current climate.
Tempelhof Airport is an impressive building, although its sheer scale and layout meant there was some serious walking involved to navigate all the halls.
Top tip: if you head to the show next season, plan your attack and mark up all the brands you want to see in advance so you can tackle it hall by hall. Flitting between areas just isn’t an option. There are shuttle buses from one end of the show to the other, so don’t let this put you off.
The only downside to the venue is there is not much opportunity for “chance” networking. The Luna Park hub area just doesn’t function in the same way as it did in Barcelona.
What the show needs is for some of the British brands to return. The likes of French Connection, Henleys and Gio-Goi skipped this season’s event. It would be good to see them in January, if only to encourage more UK buyers to make the trip.
Overall, Berlin was a positive experience. How Müller addresses the cold Berlin winter in January will be interesting given that some areas are open to the elements.