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With Bread & Butter off the menu, Berlin loses some of its flavour

This week was a good time for taxi drivers in Berlin.

Between Monday and Wednesday, the Drapers contingent boosted their takings by zipping back and forth to six shows in the city, including the inconveniently sited Panorama, which is way out west while the other five are in the east. The absence of Bread & Butter, apart from a tiny gathering of loyal brands at the company’s head office, meant a lot of reshuffling had gone on. Premium - mainly womenswear but with a decent menswear area - was bigger than ever, with about 1,800 brands represented. Its cool brother, Seek, has relocated a taxi ride away to an old factory, which fits all of its 250 exhibitors on one floor instead of the four floors previously.

The insiders’ streetwear event Bright was busier than usual, as was Show & Order, a womenswear fair aimed at independent buyers. Now in its seventh season, Show & Order is coming onto the radar of British and Irish buyers and brands. Some exhibitors promote the worst eccentricities of German fashion, but I found it an interesting gathering of collections I mostly had never heard of. In keeping with the Berlin vibe, it is held in a former power station that is an exercise in concrete construction. It’s certainly worth a look by anyone who usually visits Pure London, Scoop and Moda.

Presenting a different attitude is Panorama, the major mainstream offering, which is held in the conventional Messe Berlin exhibition complex. While some found it a bit light on atmosphere, it has an impressive selection of the big German and north European brands that dominated CPD in Düsseldorf and Herren-Mode-Woche in Cologne. While the attendance from these islands does not approach the planeloads that visited those two German fairs of yesteryear, we had regular reports that more Brits and Irish are adding Panorama to their schedule.

But like Premium and Show & Order, Panorama is still a major attraction for the German-speaking nations and eastern Europe. Seek and Bright attract more international punters (as they have more international brands) but there is no doubt that the demise of Bread & Butter has, for now, taken a lot of the excitement out of Berlin. To put a positive spin on it, maybe it’s more business-like now. What do our readers think?

While I was travelling between Pitti Uomo last week and Berlin this, the remarkable news broke that Sports Direct-owned USC had been flipped out of administration straight into Republic, another Sports Direct-owned company. I have yet to find anyone who saw that one coming. Our coverage certainly attracted plenty of strident comment on our website. Even by the unconventional approach of Sports Direct’s majority shareholder Mike Ashley, this was very smart, very cynical or bordering on the fraudulent, according to your point of view.

I have a matter-of-fact opinion on this. I can see nothing illegal in this deal - it is what our insolvency laws allow - and I am sure that many brands will continue to work with USC in its latest incarnation. But it is another episode that explains why we put Ashley at the summit of our Top 100 of powerful fashion retail people on the UK high street. I am sure he will be in our news pages regularly during 2015.

To finish on an upbeat note, we have extended the deadline for the Drapers Footwear Awards 2015 to next Friday, January 30. The awards have reverted to being totally focused on footwear and we want to hear from specialists and those who sell footwear alongside clothing.

We want to celebrate the best. But you have to be in it to win it.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Last week's Berlin Fashion Week was a tangle of fragmented exhibitions, each lacking (in degrees) theatre, newness of trends and crucially UK buyers.
    I have little doubt that Pitti Uomo will emerge the international men's exhibition winner in the aftermath of B&B's sad demise. How can you beat the dramatic and ever-romantic backdrop of Pitti's Fortezza da Basso? Then there's Florence itself which as a city is a joy to navigate and remains a pleasurable after-hours networking destination.
    Anyone who visited a fortnight ago will have been reminded of the pre-B&B energy of Pitti Uomo with its convincing mix of premium men's tailoring, best-of-breed lifestyle brands, avant-garde menswear and an increasing mix of denim-led young fashion.
    Add to that the swarm of pap-hungry male peacocks defining their own vision of menswear styling and you're left with little reason not to book your flights for June. It'll be a roadblock.

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