The middle day of the Berlin shows got off to a steady start, as buyers and agents trudged through the sleet to visit Panorama, Premium, Seek, Show & Order and Bright – and conversation continued to centre on the cancelled January edition of Bread & Butter.
The mood was particularly buoyant at streetwear fair Bright, where German buyers mixed with a handful of Brits.
“Bright has been epic – very busy,” said Nigel Gibb, European sales manager for skateboard brand Element. “We’ve seen lots of UK people, all our major accounts including Schuh, Urban Outfitters and Route One.
“I think the closing down of Bread & Butter [the main show was cancelled and a smaller ‘guerilla’ fair later announced] has made a difference in the sense that it has given us more quality time with our key accounts; they’re not in as much of a rush. We thought it would affect footfall, as we thought maybe some people would not come [to Berlin] at all, but they have.”
Sunny Aytan, co-founder of streetwear brand Criminal Damage, said: “Bright is good for streetwear, Seek for product. We had a lot of German buyers and a handful of people from the UK [at Bright], including Topman, TK Maxx and Asos.com.”
Steven Miller, director of British men’s young fashion brand Friend or Faux, which was showing at Bright for the first time, added: “It’s been really good today. We’ve seen US, German, Spanish, Italian and Scandinavian buyers. It’s a bit strange without B&B. It seems to have split everyone off, but there is more energy now.”
Former B&B exhibitors were scattered across the shows. Olivier Costalat, head of sales at women’s young fashion brand Yumi, which was showing at Panorama for the first time, said: “We were at B&B last season, but decided to leave straight after. Over the past two years it had lost the plot. We were there to do business, and when they announced they were going to open their doors to the public [in 2013 – a decision that was later overturned] we thought, that is not what we are here for. A show is a big spend and we want a return on our investment.”
Of Panorama, he said: “This is a really good show, we’ve seen some department store chains and online retailers, 90% of which are German.”
Chris Terry, senior account manager at menswear brand Original Penguin, which moved from B&B to Seek, said: “It’s been good, but a lot of our regular buyers had told us they were giving Berlin a miss this time, they want to shake it up a bit. We’re sad that B&B is over. We had seen a decline there and more brands had been leaving season by season. It became about showboating and less about product.”
Over at his office on Münzstrasse, B&B founder Karl-Heinz Müller played host to Bread & Butter ‘Back to the Street’, a much reduced show featuring 45 brands, most of which sell to his own Berlin retail stores, 14oz.
Angelika Pöser, the German agent for English brands Drake’s, Tricker’s, Gloverall and Pantherella, said: “B&B is [still] an important show. It is international – not only German – and all the big names have heard of B&B. Panorama is mainstream, but not interesting. It’s for big brands, but it isn’t fashion. B&B will be back again.”
Jason Denham, founder of Amsterdam-based Denham the Jeanmaker, which was taking part in Back to the Street, said: “Berlin is going through a big transition. It’s a sad story what happened to B&B, but I have a feeling they will come back in the spring. We’ll have to see what happens. We are looking at everything at the moment; we went and had a look at Premium today.”
Meanwhile, some exhibitors at the womenswear fair Show & Order, which has been around for seven seasons, said the fair got off to a reasonably slow start, but picked up on the second day.
Rosemary Eribe, managing director of Scottish knitwear brand Eribe, which was showing at Show & Order for the first time after moving from B&B, said: “It’s a nice show. Yesterday (Monday) was quieter than we expected, but it has been a lot busier this morning and when people came they did order. I think that’s normal for this show as buyers go to the big three on the first day and then come here.”
Melanie Hey, wholesale manager at dress label Onjenu London, said Show & Order seemed slower than last season, despite efforts by organiser Verena Malta to better promote it. But Hey added: “We have faith it will pick up today (Tuesday). There is so much going on elsewhere so Show & Order is not a priority and might be more of a second day kind of show.”
Not all Show & Order stands were quiet on day one, however. James Seaver, designer at Irish women’s lifestyle brand Avoca Anthology, said: “We moved from Premium five seasons ago because we felt we suited this show better. The building [an old power station] is amazing. Yesterday our stand was very busy and we sold a lot as well as making lots of appointments. We found buyers were wandering around in the morning and then doing business in the afternoon.”