Drapers descended on Berlin for the spring 18 editions of Panorama, Premium, Seek, Bright, Show & Order and Selvedge Run. All five shows ran on 4-6 July in various locations around the Berlin capital, from Panorama’s sleek commercial home at the Messe Berlin to the edgier riverside location of contemporary show Seek. Drapers brings you everything you need to know from the Berlin merry-go-round.
More from: Beaches and big-name buyers in Berlin
Panorama: mainstream mammoth at Messe Berlin
Stop on any street corner in Berlin during Panorama, and the show’s multicoloured bee logo was almost guaranteed to be within view. Coaches, taxis and buses decked in the trade show’s colours criss-crossed the city, whizzing visitors to the gargantuan Messe Berlin, where the show celebrated its 10th edition. Germany’s biggest mainstream show was home to domestic giants such as Meyer and Luisa Cerano, as well as European brands Bugatti and Bruhl.
Inside, past a replica beach complete with deckchairs and food trucks, the halls bustled with a steady flow of visitors. Brands had, as ever, gone all out to tempt in buyers. Ice cream vendors and plates of patisserie were dotted around the venue. Many adopted an eclectic, botanical menagerie feel, while Marc Cain paraded its wares on an expectedly grandiose stand, where mannequins showcased the collection on a white leopard print catwalk.
These efforts seemed to pay off, and the MA!N and Style halls were consistently busy. While the first and last day were relatively quiet, there was overall enthusiasm from exhibitors. Several said they had been writing orders at the event and that buyers seemed more confident than in previous seasons.
While the focus of many at the show was the buoyant German market, there was a strong international contingent weaving their way through the jungle of exhibitors, hunting for prime product. Big UK names including Topshop, Shop Direct and JD Williams all spotted making the rounds.
Ntola Obazee, country manager: Germany for Joules, believes the show’s lure lies in the opportunity to test the waters of the industry as the season swings into business: “The Berlin shows are definitely still relevant for the UK buyers. Buyers can see the emerging European trends here across all the different shows – it really has an overview of the market, covering all bases. It’s a place to get an understanding of the trends, the suppliers, the markets, the way things are going.”
Seek: Scandi and sporty youthful vibe
With its industrial-chic venue, urban fittings, trendy market food stands and a beach-themed riverside deck complete with gold swan inflatables, this year’s edition of Seek revelled in its youthful, quirky atmosphere, which scored points from exhibitors and attendees alike.
Seek was home to a mix of Scandi brands like Mads Nørgaard, accessories labels Hershel Supply and Eastpak, and sportswear brands such as Fila, Champion and Adidas Originals.
“The show looks great – it is very minimal, but it’s still delivered in a very premium way,” said Ash Kumar, founder of Native Youth. “Trade shows should be doing more stuff like the outdoor beach. Buyers need somewhere they can go as a nice area to take stock and write up notes. Trade shows are hard work, so people do need places to go to revive and refuel.”
“There is a good contemporary vibe here,” agreed Mark Thorpe, sales manager at Palladium. “Now shows are as much about vibe as they are about product. The brand mix here is really strong and very relevant.”
While the brand mix won praise from many exhibitors, and the product was fresh and eye-catching across the show, attracting buyers from the likes of Urban Outfitters, there was a sense from some that the UK interest in the show had waned.
“People go to Pitti or Paris now, not here,” said Rhys Davies, sales consultant at Nicce. “Berlin was such a focal point for so long that they’re bored of it. Business has already been done in Pitti and a lot of the brands here have representation in London.”
While the show seemed consistently busy, and an enthusiastic hubbub throughout the hall was fuelled by loud music blaring from the mezzanine DJ, several brands reported that footfall was down on previous seasons. Perhaps the pop-up beach proved too much of a success, as buyers and exhibitors alike basked in the Berlin sunshine, surveying the river, beers in hand.
Source: Marchi Marchell
Bright: skaters and surfer dudes rub shoulders
A relaxed mood permeated skate, surf and sports show Bright, which was connected with Seek by a walkway. Crowds gathered around the Vans stand, where crisp white T-shirts from the brand were being customised for the waiting throng. Whisky cocktails lured visitors to the back of the show space and the edgy crowd spotted walking the aisles were decked out in the latest skate and streetwear brands. Despite the chilled-out vibe, exhibitors said buyers seemed ready to do business. As ever, the show’s proximity to Seek proved to be an advantage, as buyers flitted back and forth between the two events.
Although some said that for them the show had been more about making good contacts and promoting their businesses to new markets, although were reserving judgement on the success of the show. The aisles felt like they could have been busier, but brands said they were writing orders.
“We’ve been talking to a lot of people, but the real work happens when we get in touch with the contacts we’ve made in the next couple of weeks,” said Pau del Campo, co-founder of Spanish surf brand Pipe Residents. “If all the customers we’ve spoken to come through, then it will have been a fantastic show. It’s an expensive decision to come here for a small brand, but we have to be here if we want to grow.”
Jesse Hyvari, co-founder of Finnish brand Makia Clothing, added: “There’s been a steady flow of people coming by throughout the show. There have been real customers writing orders, which is why we are here. We develop a good contact base during our time in Berlin, so business-wise it’s a good set-up.”
Premium: cool, crowded and contemporary – but extraordinary?
Buyers basked in the sunshine on the first day of contemporary show Premium, lounging in brightly coloured deckchairs and snapping selfies to show off their summer finery. Although the mood in the show’s buzzy outside area seemed upbeat, the feedback inside the show’s many halls was mixed. Most exhibitors reported a steady stream of footfall, but others remarked that it had been a quieter start then previous seasons.
This story continued across days two and three of the show. Brands said they had made good contacts and praised the quality of visitors to their stands, but said they would have liked to have seen more of them. A quiet last day was dominated by students and bloggers.
As in previous editions of the show, footfall across the different halls over the three-day event varied considerably. The contemporary womenswear hall, home to Love Moschino, French Connection and American Vintage, was consistently busy and often felt crowded. Drapers struggled to get on to some of the stands, including the crammed Samsøe & Samsøe area, but in other halls, including the athleisure section, the mood felt much flatter.
Some exhibitors questioned whether trade shows across the board are doing enough to compel buyers to visit, instead of seeing brands in their domestic showrooms.
“Buyers expect something extraordinary now and are these fairs extraordinary?” asked Vitus Overgaard, head of international sales at Samsøe & Samsøe. “That’s a question the industry needs to ask itself: how can fairs become extraordinary again? We’ve tried to combine art and fashion on our stand. I think we’re probably the most Instagrammed exhibitors here.”
Steve Kirchner, country director of Tiger of Sweden, agreed: “It’s all well and good to meet customers here for a chit-chat, but we can also do that in our showrooms. That’s where we write orders and really show the collection. However, some of the smaller brands still write orders at Premium.”
Show & Order: Versace adds glitz to eclectic exhibition
An exhibition showcasing the work of Italian designer Gianni Versace drew crowds on the top floor of Kraftwerk Berlin Mitte, home to Show & Order. Show organisers teamed up with Brazilian private collector Alexandre Stefani to present 26 looks to mark the 20th anniversary of Versace’s death this week. Buyers and exhibitors alike gathered to admire the fashion legend’s extravagant designs, as well as imbibe the free drinks on offer.
Downstairs, however, the show felt quiet, although the mood among exhibitors varied. An eclectic mix of products were on offer, including fashion, gifts, lingerie and homeware. Like the other Berlin shows, most brands had come expecting to focus on the domestic German market.
“The first day got off to a very, very quiet start but people tend to start at the other shows and work their way around to this one,” said Jurgen Heerkens, sales manager at Mila & James. “We’re mainly here for the German market and we like the atmosphere of the show.”
Elodie Loudon, director of boho beachwear brand Juliet Dunn, was more upbeat: “It’s been a great show for us, super-busy. It was a little slow to begin with, but people start the day at Premium and work their way around to us at Show & Order. Around 95% of the people we’ve seen have been German buyers. During a good show, we can write £150,000 of orders for the German market alone.”
Selvedge Run: edgy denim for hipsters
Team Drapers paid its first visit to Selvedge Run this season, squeezing in a quick trip to the denim-focused “quality garments”, shoes, accessories and lifestyle show. Selvedge Run prides itself on offering brands with heritage, focusing on “character and a strong DNA”.
The setting was suitably hipster: a cobble-stone square surrounded by red-brick buildings in a former brewery. Inside, the overriding theme was vintage Americana, dominated by denim and leather goods. The show’s specialist nature means it is less commercial than the other Berlin shows, but this suited the exhibitors down to the ground.
Denim brands formed the mainstay of the show’s fashion offering. Many exhibitors said they were looking for high-end, specialist stores and needed more time to talk about their products than the hustle and bustle of the other Berlin shows allowed.
Selvedge Run also proved to be a new home for denim specialists who would have previously showed at the now consumer-facing show, Bread & Butter.