Xavier Clergerie ( Who's Next): "At Bread, you couldn’t see the products, only the marketing"
Xavier Clergerie was not surprised by the collapse of Bread & Butter, although he didn't expect it to happen so quickly. For the co-founder of Who's Next, such a fate eventually awaits all shows, especially those in the jeans sector, that are solely based on marketing.
FashionMag.com: How do you account for the demise of Bread & Butter?
Xavier Clergerie: I wasn’t surprised, except for, perhaps, the speed at which it met its demise. Before Bread & Butter, the French menswear trade show, the Sehm, with a big sportswear jeans sector, Interjeans in Cologne, and Glissexpo came to an end. These are events that primarily relied on brands with a strong focus on marketing. And it’s marketing that brands emphasized at Bread & Butter, for example, with large enclosed stands and lots of decor, such as G-Star.
FM: What's wrong with that? Isn't that what made Bread successful in the first place?
XC: Of course. It worked. Especially since it was showy and spectacular. But we have to get back to what a trade show should be. Marketing is good; of course I don't condemn it, but, by itself, it doesn't last. Visitors generally come to see the products. But at a show like Bread, you don't see them. At WSN, we're well familiar with that. We could have met our demise as well if at a certain moment we hadn't turned back toward the products themselves. Première Classe helped us in that respect because the show is primarily based on products. Brands in this sector don't have the same weight as jeans brands. It's this positioning that led us to require fairly uniform, small stands so that the products stand out to visitors. It's especially true for the women's sector, in which our events are essentially positioned, that it puts more emphasis on products than on marketing.
And of course, we also have to take into account the economic crisis, which has led many brands to question the value of going to Bread at a time when they weren't taking down orders at their stands. Finally, and I insist on this, brands are marketing throughout the year. They don't need a trade show for it. On the other hand, they present collections at certain times and trade shows are a powerful tool to show them.
FM: Do you think Who's Next will benefit from the demise of Bread & Butter, with the participation of new brands, for example?
XC: Not really—for several reasons. Certainly, Bread & Butter was very international in terms of its image, but that wasn't truly the case for its visitors. In fact, many of Bread's brands are shifting to other Berlin shows such as Premium and Panorama. You have to realize that Berlin has first and foremost a regional resonance--for Germany, for other Germanic countries and on the zone of influence that these have on Eastern Europe.
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