A feeling of determined optimism and resilience dominated last week’s edition of streetwear trade show Bread & Butter Berlin, as brands said they would focus on driving quality and innovation to face down economic pressures.
The spectre of rising cotton prices and freight costs was consistently high on the agenda at the show, which took place at Tempelhof Airport on July 7-9. However, talk quickly moved on to the kinds of product and emerging trends such as drop-crotch denim that could help to drive the market.
Nish Soneji, managing director of denim brand Pepe Jeans, said: “There are a lot of international markets with a lot of problems at the moment but there is a strange unexpected optimism here. Perhaps it’s the World Cup and the sunshine which has made people connect. On a global basis, if you compare the home [UK] market, we have lots of things to look forward to.”
Jamie Hall, marketing manager of denim giant Levi’s, added: “We are not out of the woods yet but there is positivity and more confidence than in previous seasons. Buyers are investing in a wider range of pieces.”
Official visitor numbers are not provided for Bread & Butter but brands told Drapers that buyer numbers had dropped compared with the same edition last year, especially among UK visitors. Many said buyers came for just one night.
However, they added that the quality of meetings was good, especially in terms of new business from the Netherlands, Russia and Scandinavia. Other new businesses attending included non-traditional clothing retailers such as HMV, Play.com and Amazon, all of which are understood to be extending their clothing offers. Denim brands were surprised they attended the show and said it was a sign of industry health.
Caroline Humphries, sales manager of wholesale ladieswear at French Connection, said: “For our export [business] and new customers, the show has been fabulous, although it’s quite light on UK customers compared with previous years. We’ve had a steady flow but not as many as we were expecting, especially among indies.”
Kapil Tyagi, UK retail and wholesale manager at denim brand Gas, said: “We will have seen about 50 clients in total, which is very good. It’s better than last summer’s [edition of Bread & Butter] but in winter we had more footfall.”
All the major UK multiples and department stores were present, including John Lewis, Fenwicks, Selfridges, Liberty, House of Fraser and Asos. Young fashion mini-chains Xile, Diffusion, Javelin, Zee & Co and indies such as Stuarts London in Shepherd’s Bush, Richmond Classics in Bournemouth, Trapeze in Cheltenham and Harringtons in Guildford also sent representatives.
David Weeks, buying director of three-store young fashion indie Xile, said he had arrived intending to drop brands but was now planning to add Ellesse on the back of its 1980s revival collection. “I wasn’t there to pick anything up but sportswear is doing well, especially retro sportswear,” he said.
However, some brands said buyers were more cautious than in previous years. Simon Parr, sales executive at heritage brand Baracuta, said: “They are opting for safer product rather than the tricky stuff and for safe colours like navy.”
Joe Castrorao, director of international sales at US streetwear brand Affliction Clothing, said: “Money is always the topic. People say, ‘We’re going to order this but not as many,’ or they dismiss things as too expensive.”
Kidswear goes solo
Bread & Butter Berlin will launch a standalone kidswear show in 2012.
Karl-Heinz Müller, managing director of Bread & Butter, said the B&B Kids Camp, a kidswear zone which was introduced to the streetwear show for the first time this season, would become a standalone show from January 29-31, 2012. It will be held at Bread & Butter’s current location at Tempelhof Airport. Until that time, the kidswear area will double in size to 54,000 sq ft for the January 2011 show and increase threefold for the July 2011 edition.
He added that the kidswear show would start on a Sunday to attract independent retailers unable to attend on a weekday.