Even without Bread & Butter, Berlin was busy as Seek, Premium and Panorama, plus minor events, enjoyed a busy start to the three-day fair festival on Monday (January 19).
Exhibitors at Seek were positive about the new, bigger location at Arena Berlin, which allowed the show to almost triple its space for the autumn 15 season.
Ben Sherman’s general manager for central Europe Marco di Rado said: “We love the new venue for Seek. [It] feels much more spacious than the previous location and it is definitely good to have everyone in one area, rather than split across three levels as at the previous edition.”
Jack Parkin, business development manager at Perry Ellis, which was showing menswear brand Farah at Seek, agreed: “I really like the new venue. It’s much bigger than before, but you still get that personal feel. We are also still next to a lot of the same brands as before, which is great.”
The mood was similarly upbeat at Seek’s sister show Premium, which increased its exhibition space by 17% this season, partly by taking over Seek’s former location.
Martin Tramper, managing director of Dutch womenswear brand Stills, showing at Premium, said: “It seems to be a lot more energetic this season and we are seeing a lot more international buyers from China and Japan as well as Denmark, Italy and Germany.”
Nigel Hall, founder of his eponymous menswear label, said Premium was the only international show he was exhibiting at. “Premium is good for us; judging by the amount of people here at the moment I’d say there’ll be a lot of interest.”
Ilaria Tualdi, international multibrand manager at Hoss Intropia, was hopeful for a busy show to mark the Spanish brand’s 10th year at Premium, while Emil Krainer, export manager at Bitte Kai Rand, felt traffic to the booth on the first day was up on January 2014. This is the Danish brand’s third year showing at Premium.
Panorama, which extended its exhibition space by 43,000 sq ft at the ExpoCenter City for the January edition, also received positive feedback from brands and buyers on its first day.
Brian Downes, a buyer at womenswear independent Profile, in Mallow, County Cork, said: “I’ve been coming to Panorama since the show started and it is just getting bigger and bigger. It is also a very international show and a great chance to see the brands that don’t ever show in the UK.”
Julian Ensor, Irish agent for trouser brand Meyer, which was showing at Panorama, said: “There were a lot of Irish buyers here today, 20 or 30 at least; that’s a lot more than recent years and they were all pleasantly surprised with the show.”
However, Maureen O’Brien, creative and managing director of womenswear brand Louche, which moved from Bread & Butter to Panorama this season, said footfall was a lot quieter upstairs as many buyers were not aware there was a second floor: “A lot of brands up here are disappointed as footfall hasn’t been great. The signage needs to be better. We are missing B&B and there are just so many [other] shows now, buyers don’t know where to go.”
She added: “The Russians are not anywhere to be seen, which is a big blow.”
Bread & Butter cancelled its main exhibition in favour of a smaller “guerrilla-style” show at its offices. The ground-breaking event was not far from exhibitors’ minds at other shows.
Sharon Fraser, sales manager at Glamorous, which was showing at Panorama for the first time after several years at B&B, said: “It’s not bad, but not as busy as we were at B&B. We have seen our regulars but not too much in the way of new business yet.”
Ben Lima, international sales manager at Native Youth, said B&B last season was “diabolical”. “We only saw 300 buyers over the three days, when we would expect to see between 600 and 700 on the first day alone. The show had been in decline for the past two years and was so empty in July last year that we decided straight after to move to Seek.
“This is the perfect show for us and we love the venue, which is in a very up and coming area of Berlin.”
Alon Junger, managing director of the Munich-based Oui Group, which was showing Oui at Panorama and Set at Premium, reviewed the situation: “Look, 20,000 visitors divided between two (shows) is better than three. Footfall at Panorama is good. We will see what in means for Berlin in a year or so. People will come back (to Panorama) in summer, but by next January… I think Karl-Heinz [Muller, founder of Bread & Butter] will come back with a vengeance, maybe backed by a new investor.”