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Will taking Bread & Butter to Seoul be a good Korea move?

On Tuesday night, I was not expecting anything to be as surprising as Bread & Butter’s news that it would hold an edition in Seoul on September 3-5, 2015.

Then, the Germans destroyed the inept Brazilians 7-1 in that astonishing World Cup semi and temporarily the vital subject of fashion fairs was forgotten.

“That’s what German power can do,” Karl-Heinz Müller, Bread & Butter’s charismatic founder, laconically remarked to a large contingent that had watched the game on a big screen at his Tempelhof Airport base. He got the loud cheer you’d expect for that bit of nationalistic drum-beating.

We will know soon enough if his own version of German power wins the support of the wider fashion community, especially those numerous brands that have migrated away from B&B in the past few seasons. Responding to the repeated - and to my mind, slightly exaggerated - charge that his Berlin extravaganza had become flat and jaded, Müller has decided to take the show back to Barcelona on January 8-10, 2015 (it was held there from July 2005 to January 2009), run it at Tempelhof in Berlin at a date to be confirmed (but one that probably will be earlier than its current early July slot) and then present its new edition in the South Korean capital in early September.

“The wish for real change is in the air,” Müller wrote in a newspaper that was handed out to the rain-soaked crowd. He believes the show scene needs shaking up, and certainly his plan has all sorts of ramifications. First, the Thursday to Saturday dateline for Barcelona on 8-10 January places it as the first major show in Europe, pulling in front of Pitti Uomo, which is scheduled to run from Tuesday to Friday, January 13-16. The Spanish event will probably clash with London Collections: Men too, but this is not as significant as the usurping of Pitti’s pole position.

Keeping one edition a year in Berlin seems a clever move - partly for historical and political reasons, partly because the fair still has more than four years of a 10-year leasing agreement with Tempelhof to run, and not least because Germany is Europe’s largest economy and biggest fashion market.

Müller has invited brands to join him on a fact-finding visit to Seoul on September 12, where they will be greeted by its mayor Park Won-Soon. As he has done in Berlin (at least twice) and in Barcelona (now also twice), Müller has courted local politicians to help ensure B&B takes a central role in the city’s life, at least for a few days a year.

Among Asian cities, Seoul is “the right one” to fit B&B’s brands, Müller wrote. “It is young, progressive, hungry,independent and there is real power, plus Seoul wants us,” he added. This last point is important as the genial entrepreneur likes to be liked.

It remains to be seen what the effect of B&B’s seasonal absence from Berlin will do for the ridiculously busy fashion fair schedule in the German capital. Although Müller acknowledges that the boutique-focused fair Premium has run more editions in Berlin than he has - it has been there twice a year since January 2003 - he has little time for the many others that have sprung up around B&B. I was told that this week there were 19 trade events in the city, including Seek, Panorama, Show & Order, Bright and Capsule - if correct, that’s about 15 too many.

So, lots to consider. Tantalisingly, Müller has hinted that to complete B&B’s global chain, he needs an edition on “the American continents”. After Tuesday’s match, I’d suggest he avoids Brazil for a while.

Read the Drapers team’s daily reports from Berlin at www.drapersonline.com/product/trade-shows

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