TITLE BREAD & BUTTER Cologne offshow for selected brands
DATE July 13-15, 2001
Karl-Heinz Müller was a keen-eyed jeanswear professional long before he decided the casualwear sector needed a showcase far more stimulating than Inter-Jeans, the long-standing fair in Cologne. Running alongside mainstream menswear show Herren-Mode-Woche, Inter-Jeans had dominated for 20-plus years, filling several floors of the Koelnmesse building.
Despite its relevance in the 1980s, Inter-Jeans had ceased to reflect the vitality and creativity of the sector and the fact that jeanswear was now being cross-fertilised with active sportswear, streetwear, skatewear and revived vintage brands.
With his partners Wolfgang Ahlers and Kristyan Geyr, Müller selected a semi-derelict factory building about 10 minutes’ walk from Inter-Jeans for the launch of Bread & Butter, the “offshow for selected brands”. The four-storey building was the three-day home to about 50 brands, including premium majors such as Levi’s Red, Vintage Clothing, Lee’s 101 line and Nike Fusion, with niche names such as Aem’kei, Stüssy and Woolrich.
“Maybe Bread & Butter will wake up the organisers of Inter-Jeans,” suggested Rob Dunk, then creative director
of Pepe. “[Inter-Jeans] is an institution, and still the most important place to do business for denim, but it does the same thing season after season. Small projects such as Bread & Butter inject more energy into the market.”
Bread & Butter followed the lead given by Who’s Next in Paris (started in January 1994) and 40° in London (launched in August 1996) but its decision to go outside a typical venue was intriguing. It was also a surprise that such an off-the-wall concept came from the usually conservative Germany. Although relatively few British buyers attended the debut, the quality of those who did was impressive. Nick Preston, now at JD Sports Fashion but who at the time was men’s denim buyer at House of Fraser, said: “Natural light, one sound system and you don’t have to queue to get on the stands. It’s great.”
Demand to be among the selected inaugural crew was hot among progressive directional brands - Boxfresh left it too late to book a stand, so showed its collection in an old school bus in the B&B car park. Such a spirit epitomised the early days. In its fashion trends report on the first show, the then Drapers Record highlighted “the continuing trend for low-slung jeans”, but declared itself “not sure about the returning trend for giant turn-ups. Much in evidence among sales teams on the stands”.
What a phenomenon.
Bread & Butter has been a game changer. It’s a lot more than just a trade show. It has all the qualities of a great brand - strong visual identity, an exceptional experience and brilliant focus on the trade consumer. From worthwhile entertainment, quality catering, spectacular venues and integration into its location/city, the event is conducive to doing good business, having fun and showcasing innovation.
For anyone in this sector of the global fashion industry, it’s a must-attend event. Karl-Heinz Müller has set the bar high. He should be Berlin’s next mayor!