Is Premium Berlin’s new growth driver?

Fashion Week and a plethora of trade fairs opened and closed in Berlin last week. It was a week that was closely watched by journalists and buyers which included the first edition of Panorama, an exhibition for established brands, the repositioning of Bread & Butter and the relocation of Bright. But all eyes were especially on the ten-year anniversary of Premium.

True Religion chose to exhibit at Premium.
Premium’s visitor numbers showed a sharp spike Wednesday morning. All totaled, the German press said some 200,000 visitors were in the capital for fashion events, on par with last July. “At Premium, my impression is that it was less crowded in general but retailers were happy. The aisles are laid out so that visitors pass each booth or almost every one, which is positive, except perhaps that sometimes it feels like being in a train station,” said Arielle Levy of l'Herbe Rouge, who also exhibited at the Ethical Fashion Show.

Both the two flagship events Premium and Bread & Butter no longer announce attendance figures. The latest numbers available for Premium date back to 2011 with 60,000 visitors. For this most recent session, the increase was officially 5% but that is in comparison with July. The two organizers are talking up the international character of their shows. Bread & Butter says 70% of their visitors are from abroad. Premium specifies that Germans, Austrians and Swiss visitors accounted for 36% of attendees. Visitors from the Benelux countries and France together made up 20%. But only 6% were from outside Europe.

For sure, in Berlin Premium has gained in power and benefited from Bread & Butter’s return to the German capital in 2009. After buyers visit Bread &Butter, they come here in search of German or Scandinavian brands and women's items. Another phenomenon on Premium’s side is that while some companies have left Bread & Butter, their subsidiaries are going back to Premium, which has also been able to attract American jeans companies such as True Religion, 7 For All Mankind, J Brand.
The exhibition in a former train station has traditionally been perceived as less festive and more focused on order. “Exhibiting here is our initiative and not a decision from Italy. We are here to reach the top buyers in Germany. However, the mood is less festive. Retailers remain serious and focused on how to select their inventory for the next season,” said Thorsten Link, CEO of Diesel Germany, who was exhibiting the brand’s Black Gold line.

Exhibitors from Seek were happy with the underground trade show that resembles a capsule and is neighbors with Premium. “This place is more confidential but fits our positioning,” said Simon Dufour from Veja.

The aisles of the Bright show were full and the Hub booth was busy. Marije Buren, marketing manager of this Dutch shoes brand, was pleased with the attendance, whereas one buyer from southern France felt the super stylish crowd was more about being seen than doing business.

But buyers in Berlin get lost in the multitude of events that are impossible to do in three days. For once Bread & Butter acted for the common good by advancing its dates to Tuesday, giving retailers another day in the city. But Karl-Heinz Müller, founder of Bread & Butter, was disappointed that only Bright played along while the other events aligned their dates with Bread & Butter.

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