January 30, 2012

Berlin Fashion Week Roundup Part I

Last week we talked about New York’s Kingpins and Continuum trade shows.

As promised -- here’s Part I of a two-part series on Berlin’s Fashion Week. In addition to two of the largest trade shows – the Bread & Butter and the Premium Exhibition – there was a “new kid on the block”.

In a relaxed environment and with a select group of about 70 exhibitors, while attending the newly launched boutique Gallery Berlin – this January located at Berlin’s Moscow Café – we sat down with executive director fashion IGEDO, Mirjam Dietz and project director CPD Signatures/The Gallery, Elke Sautter.

MBF: So The Gallery Berlin was started because you felt the market needed something new.

Mirjam Dietz: Exactly. Several niche market designers – such as the Avant Garde movement -- were looking for a Berlin platform – earlier in the season. Designers such as Annett Roestel and Annette Goertz.

MBF: Let’s talk a little bit more about Avant Garde designers – we’re familiar with Annette Goertz. Is this the niche market you’re looking for? And how do you distinguish your self from other fairs?

MD: Though we had requests from many other segments, our niche or focus is the Avant Garde and design-oriented collections. We have to be careful how we grow. It’s not just about putting together different segments without a cohesive concept. The retail market is not quite so black-and-white anymore. As we continue to focus on Avant Garde, our growth should evolve quite naturally -- in response to market demands.

MBF: How do you vet your exhibitors?

MD: Elke [Sautter] spoke with several designers who had expressed an interest in joining us in Berlin. They were very forthcoming in describing who they envisioned sharing exhibition space with and they suggested several collections they thought we should see, potential exhibitors. Within two weeks the trade show was sold.

MBF: So it was a very natural evolution.

MD: We occupy the same segment you see at the Paris trade show, Atmosphere. So when we were last there, we announced we would go to Berlin. It was quite funny -- there was quite a demand. Exhibitors would suggest we speak to other exhibitors whom they said would also come to Berlin. They told us they had been waiting for us, for this opportunity.

If you’re familiar with Igedo’s history [Duesseldorf], there are a million reasons why this no longer works.

Our criterion is for a product that is not only desirable but also completely different.
And we have market credibility; we know what we’re talking about. All of this allows us to respond quickly to new demands, enact different strategies.

Of course, we had to take into consideration our shareholder – Messe Duesseldorf. They too have understood the market has changed. As a result they green-lighted this new concept.

MBF: Do you plan to remain a “smaller” trade-show?

MD: We have our “foot in the door”, a platform in Berlin and a home base in Duesseldorf -- we’re comfortable waiting to see how this market evolves. We booked our location in Berlin last September. We can easily consider additional locations.

MBF: Talk a little about the future.

MD: Well first things first … we’ll definitely be in Berlin this summer.

We’ve seen tremendous change impacting both mid-market and volume markets. The German industry – Gerry Webber, Bianca, Passport et cetera -- was the backbone of CPD. Because the market is so competitive many mid-market companies were pushed out.

Companies have changed – they have their own distribution system and retail stores. But the smaller brands do not necessarily have a showroom or are in Duesseldorf only temporarily – even though they may already show in Berlin there’s a demand for a Berlin platform.

Berlin’s all about exposure and Duesseldorf is all about business and writing orders. As of next summer we will have a new concept . Berlin will be followed by a smaller show in Duesseldorf in a great location Areal Bohler – that will cater to the needs of the independent retailers.

MD: Our audience are independent retailers looking to discover something new or visit with their suppliers. Also high-end department stores, both national and international.

MBF: What are your plans for short and long-term growth?

MD: We’re providing something very individual to our exhibitors. We are closely aligned with the Premium, complementary but not competitive. We have a very good relationship with [Premium founder] Norbert Tillman.

MBF: That’s great to hear – it ties in very nicely with the idea of being completely transparent.

MD: Yes – of course! Karl Heinz Mueller [BBB] is also a very good friend of ours – he sent us a text … “Good show! Crossing my fingers!” We’re very welcome here in Berlin.

MBF: So what are your biggest challenges and will you overcome them? Challenges are also opportunities.

MD: Our primary challenge is to produce a great show. And then there’s the feedback. So we have our homework cut out for us. It’s about bringing in the right retailers and delivering the right content. It’s really all about delivering the right content.

Please stay tuned for Part II reporting on the rest of Berlin Fashion Week later this week!

January 26, 2012

"Trading Spaces"

Two weeks ago, we discussed in our blog, “Once Upon a Boutique,” a new shift taking over the marketplace towards a more personal and specialized way of doing business. Today, we would like to take this idea one step further as we begin to notice a trickle across effect into innovative tradeshow concepts that are more unique.

Most of us have been to some type of tradeshow whether it be a gift show, a car show, beauty show, etc. Think large, crowded and bland looking warehouse building that is very, very brightly lit. A bit overwhelming, no? Last week, we had the opportunity to attend the first ever Continuum Show, which was held in conjunction with the established and successful Kingpins Show, a global denim and jeans supply chain show. The Continuum is a unique tradeshow that brings together the most progressive and innovative solutions to product sustainability. Both of these boutique tradeshows not only offer a friendlier and more specialized atmosphere, but very exclusively chosen exhibitors as well as invite only attendees.

photo via The Continuum

Unlike many of the other tradeshows, which set up booths or cubicle type arrangements, both Continuum and Kingpins break the boundaries. Imagine stepping into a room filled with a lighter vibe, hip music, and upon entering you are immediately greeted with a smile. As you look around each carefully selected vendor is equipped with racks, couches, and a helpful, knowledgeable staff, not to mention an innovative product assortment. It feels as if you are in a cozy room of mini showrooms, with the next one only steps away. Even the refreshments are inviting, which are not only complimentary but give off a homey, welcoming feel served on white dishware.

At Continuum, one of the most noticeable assets of the show was that everyone really cared about doing the right thing in regards to being sustainable. From vertical suppliers to waterless production to organic cottons, solar powered factories, and recycled materials, this tradeshow had it all including a laser wash demonstration hosted by Jeanologia. What's the concept behind the show you ask? Well according to one of its co-founders, Anne Gillespie, "Product sustainability is not an endpoint, rather it is a movement along a continuum towards a fully sustainable system that balances economic, social, and environmental factors."

Upstairs, the bi-annual Kingpins Show, showcased two floors of an array of casual wear crazed vendors specializing in cottons and denims in everything from fashion novelty to premium, organic, recycled, tencel, and the list goes on. Not to mention, lycra was everywhere! Simply put, it's a small friendly gathering of people who love denim! Whoever said it's hard to find a good fitting pair of jeans worry not, for the future is fit for you, literally!

Luckily, we had the opportunity to speak with Andrew Olah, founder of The Kingpins Show as well as co-founder of The Continuum Show. He explained to us that after all the headaches he experienced when traveling to Europe for trade shows, he decided why not cut down travel expenses and have one right down the block? In his words, "A bad tradeshow is like a bad supermarket" and we couldn't agree more! From here, The Kingpins Show was born, open to anyone who makes any product in jeans regardless of where they are positioned in the market, and now shows in NY, LA, Hong Kong, India, and Shanghai. This past season sparked the creation of the Continuum Show as a way to recognize companies with the correct idea in terms of sustainability. With this in mind, he explained how he sought after cutting edge companies that represented spirit and authenticity. The goal is to have a great show, in a great place and have some fun in the process.

With so many tradeshows going on during the same time frame from the U.S. to Europe, what kind of show is going to appeal to you? In our opinion, it’s about the experience, the comfort level, and connecting to others, all while being exposed to the most innovative leaders and products in the industry. We will only get more and more acquainted as this mindset of small, personal, and specialized continues to trickle across from space to space! So stay tuned for our report on Berlin fashion week!

January 20, 2012

Generation Why Not?

Ambitious, tech-savvy, self-expressive, these are just a few traits of the new breed of Generation Y-ers hitting not only the professional world but defining the future of consumerism. They are experience driven, career focused, and attention craved, as new social platforms offer not only a broadened spectrum of opportunity and networking capabilities, but encourage entrepreneurship.

Children of the iconic Baby Boomer generation and born somewhere between the late 70’s and 2000, these young professionals are controversially referred to as the "Peter Pan Generation," the "Me" Generation, the "Millenials," and Generation "Now." Despite being highly educated and informed, many are still unable to maintain a stable career due to economic wearies and a highly competitive job market, leaving some dependent on their parents while they commit to unpaid internships and develop work experience and portfolios.

photo via Pinterest

They are dreamers and for them, anything is possible. Many of these "Millenials" are disinterested in the idea of landing a job at a fortune 500 company with a routine 9 to 5 schedule. Instead, entrepreneurship, start-ups, and freelance work call their names. They want more control over how, when and where they spend their time. With increased access to news and information via the internet, social networking, and new gizmos and gadgets, this idea of “doing good” pairs with increased awareness about what is really going on in the world. Things are falling apart and they want to be the ones to not only pick up the pieces, but put together a new puzzle. Generation Y-ers want to be successful and feel good about it in the process.

photo via youtube.com

From blogging to tweets, facebook, gchat, and the latest platform, google+, they put it all out there, to an extent. Statistics show that two-thirds of Facebook users in this age range of 18 to 29 are reluctant to list employer's information among their backgrounds. To them, it's more about getting their voices heard and their personalities recognized and guess what? We're listening. Such blogs as Mr.Kate, Life Without Pants, and Thought Catalog are perfect examples of this new digital breed of DIY, witty put-it-all-out-theres with advice, articles, and videos touching on subjects on everything from, "The History of Glitter" to "Generic Things Everyone Does When Falling In Love."

So where do they shop? What do they buy? For this group of self-expressionists, it's all about being unique. They want meaningful things that are special and well, affordable. From DIY to vintage, hand-me-downs, and personalized items, they look to sites like Etsy, Ebay, and Craigslist. Not only do these sites give consumers the satisfaction of potential one of a kind items, but allows creativists and collectors alike the chance to partake in the entrepreneurial spirit by not only selling used things but selling what they make. For these "Millenials,"it's all about standing out whether that be through the way they dress, the gadgets they have, or the brands they associate themselves with. Not only do they like to be identified as "individuals," but this group is the most diversified generation in history and often referred to as the "First Globals."

Still, many companies struggle to understand this generation "now" from marketing tactics to employment. Despite social media marketing efforts, word of mouth still goes farther with this group of individualists when it comes to purchasing power. While they want to be noticed, they also want approval from peers. They are the era of change, as this new mentality of anything goes and “uniqueness” takes over. It’s still about success but with a renewed attitude of enjoying it along the way.

When asked about their dreams or what they want out of life, many respond with a simple reply of “happiness” but without a clear explanation of what that is. This is the generation that grew up with parents preaching, "you can do anything you want to do." Therefore, they won't settle for anything less. What companies need to understand is that this group of dreamers, are the future and they need to pinpoint exactly how to approach these prospective customers. Maybe they are more lost than other generations before, but they are figuring it out and determined to find this so called “happiness,” whatever that means. Generation Y, keep dreaming about your futures, as companies continue to "dream a little dream" of YOU!

January 13, 2012

Once Upon A Boutique

Recently, we talked about large retailers in our blog, “That’s How The Cookie Crumbles” so today we would like to discuss in contrast, a new boutique mindset hitting everything from design to restaurants to tradeshows to store design and product assortment. We are beginning to move away from globalization towards this idea of a bespoke way of doing business. Things are getting more “boutique-like” tailored to individual locations and customers.

With this in mind, why go to a mass retailer or high-end designer shop whether you are in NY, LA, Europe, or Asia when the styles are the same? When traveling, don’t we want to see different merchandise and a different store that embodies the culture and style of where we are visiting? A new niche type of market is beginning to emerge that differentiates product range, curates, encourages “buying local,” and connects emotionally with customers through more interesting forms of merchandising. As a general token, we want to buy things that are more meaningful and unique.

To all mass retailers out there, "the times they are a-changin" and some brands are beginning to catch on. For instance, Esprit which in 2010 opened the largest store in the world in Frankfurt, has just opened a new, more modern looking "lighthouse store" in Cologne with no window displays at all and instead curtains to create a living room effect. The international brand has taken on this new concept to create a homey, minimalistic atmosphere with neutral color schemes, exposed brick, and plants that take you back in time to the late 60's when the label originated in San Francisco. Think Anthropologie meets Aritzia. 

Levi's, another brand originating in San Francisco, has gone bespoke with it's new shop in Amsterdam. The two-level store combines the label's historic knack for denim with recycled decor ranging from old church benches, steel pipes, and bikes found in Amsterdam's canals. The space will also be used to support local artists in the form of workshops, exhibits, and performances. What better way to understand your customer base than promoting authenticity, craftsmanship, and creativity right within your own walls? 

photo via NY Times

With winter coming (possibly!), the perfect place to get warm, functional clothing for the working men and women of the world is the Dunderdon Workshop in Soho. What started out as a Swedish workwear store for craftsmen, has now evolved into a place of highly innovative, trendy, and crafty articles of knits, coats, pants, shirting and a plethora of accessories that all serve a chic but purposeful existence for blue and white collared workers alike. With a combination of great design, a helpful staff, and a cozy yet modern boutique vibe, this shop is fit for all who look for practical, well-made, and timeless pieces with a touch of down to earth sensibility.

photo via Ilay Tekstil

This past week at Premiere Vision New York, we had the opportunity to meet with a representative from Ilay Tekstil, a Turkish textile company that produces custom digital prints on silks. This is a new trend hitting textile suppliers as "specialty" and "handpicked things" begin to stand out more and more. Basically, this digital science can take any image, in any color way, and print it on fabric. With this, there are not only less minimums, but you have the opportunity to "think unlimited" as they put it and what better way to think than that? 
photo via Bond No.9

Also following in suit, or rather scent are such perfume labels as Bond No.9, Creed, and Molton Brown which work to not only offer custom fragrances, but also tell a story. Each Bond no. 9 scent, based right here on Bond Street in New York, represents the different neighborhoods the city has to offer in women’s, men’s and even unisex flavors. Meanwhile, Creed perfumes, which has been passed down through the Creed family for seven generations is hand produced using natural ingredients making the perfume label "the world’s only privately held luxury fragrance dynasty.” Ever care to travel to the likes of Egypt, China, Indonesia, Kent, or Canada? Well now you can with Molton Brown’s collection, “Navigations Through Scent,” which takes customers on a fragrant journey around the world. 

photo via snackny.com

From retail to fragrances to digital printing, it's probably about time for a snack, right? With two locations in both SoHo and the West Village, Snack is a quaint Greek restaurant offering the most delicious mediterranean salads, sandwiches, and entree dishes. Not only are the number of tables less than double digits, but the restaurant is family owned and operated. In addition, they sell dips and spreads made of natural ingredients at local markets in the New York and Massachusetts area.

As same store design begins to diminish, a shift in individual store concepts will start to flourish among those retailers interested in conserving their history while simultaneously evolving with the future. This humble attitude of change is everywhere as everything is changing ever so quickly. Sameness will no longer be accepted. In order to stay in business, companies are going to need an exciting plot, an interesting setting as well as an excellent understanding of the characters of each story. The End.

January 5, 2012

MBF "Newbies!"

Happy 2012!

We start off this new year announcing the availability of one of our newest products...

From us to you, with love!
You asked for it...you've been waiting for it, so here it is...
Introducing MBF ONDEMAND...a new service delivering what we do best – to you – on demand!

>When you want it!
>Where you want it!
>How you want it! 

Stay tuned for our first MBF ONDEMAND 2012 report available late January – The Berlin Tradeshow report 2012 & the Premiere Vision Fabric Report Spring/Summer 2013 available in mid February.

For a sneak preview of reports that are available today, contact us directly at contact@mbf-trend-consulting.com.

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MBF Trend Talk by MBF Trend Consulting is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at mbf-trendtalk.blogspot.com.