Jan 13, 2014
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Professionals react to Bread&Butter’s extended July session

Jan 13, 2014

Bread&Butter’s recent reform - which will see the trade show span a five day period and open to consumers for its July session - has certainly triggered some reactions from professionals in the sector. FashionMag.com took to the show floor at Puitti Uomo in Florence to question professionals and take the sector’s temperature on the matter. Proving a somewhat controversial move on Karl-Heinz Müller’s part, many of those interviewed by our team preferred to remain anonymous in their comments.

The biggest point of contention amongst professionals seems to the open-door policy planned for the final two days of the Berlin show. Some, like Michael Bischof from German brand Digel – which is partaking in the show for the first time – find themselves questioning how to best manage their time at the show. “Our booth and the teams we have in place for the show are not adapted for the general consumer,” he commented.

A sentiment felt by many taking part in the show. Christophe Bosc, a consultant for the brand Bill Tornade, adds: “The way we present the collections and how the teams are trained to interact is not at all destined for the consumer.”

Others are concerned about revealing too much. “It will not be good for retailers if consumers get wind of purchase prices and start to understand margins,” said one professional. Founder and president of Cruciani, Luca Caprai, commented: “For me, opening up to the public would add no value to a show like Pitti, for example. You would have the crowds turn up just for the hand-outs. Most importantly, I don’t think it is a good idea for consumers to be aware of the margins used in the sector.”

“You need to re-orientate your message according to the audience,” explains Jérôme Tordjmann from Eleven Paris, a brand present at Bread&Butter. “For July, ideally, exhibitors need to come with their spring-summer 2015 collection for the buyers and autumn-winter 2014 for the press and the general public. Having separate days for press and for buyers; that I can understand. But opening the show to the consumer, it’ll become a bit of a free-for-all. You’ll have to watch them and cater to their needs.”

Bruno Collin from the magazine Wad has his own take on things: “Karl-Heinz is trying to emulate motor shows in some way, but the problem is those only take place every two years. Fashion trade shows take place every six months. What if the consumer prefers the new collection to the one currently in stores? They are going to want to buy that newer one and not the other. Of course, brands like Burberry and Dsquared2 have starting to sell come of their pieces straight from the runway, but the selection is limited to just a few items and orders are small.”

CEO of Pitti Uomo himself, Rafaello Napoleone, said: “I do not see the interest in showing a collection to the consumer if they are unable to purchase it for another six months.”

Karl-Heinz Müller with the Mayor of Berlin | Source: BBB

There are, however, those that would like to see the change come into effect at the Italian trade show. Andrea Dino, CEO of Paul & Shark, does not necessarily agree with Napoleone: “I would like it if Pitti would open its doors to the public. That way we would be able to gage the views of our final consumer. Buyers can get it wrong sometimes but the consumers know what they want.”

French brand Marchand Drapier, however, points out that it is only those based in Berlin that will attend. “It’s not a huge city,” said Benoit Carpentier. “But it does make us susceptible to being copied.”

Finance was as aspect the cropped up regularly. How are understaffed brands that are conscious of their investments going to fare across the five-day super show? For many, the idea is unthinkable. “At Eleven Paris, we are just a small team that looks after exports and it is difficult to fit these five days into our already-packed summer schedule,” remarked Jérôme Tordjmann.

Some are seeing the positive side of things. Manlio Massa, managing director at Antony Morato and BBB regular, commented: “We’ll have to see how it goes. I consider Karl-Heinz Müller as one of the most intelligent visionaries in the sector. He always has avant-garde ideas. I don’t think the consumer will take to copying the designs they see, rather they will just be happy to discover a new trend.”

Gaudi, also present at Bread&Butter, does not see any significant negative impact. “Being in the contact with the final consumer could be a good thing for our image as long as things are done properly,” said Angelo d’Arcangelo, director of exports at the brand. Gas CEO Franco Marianelli sees it as an opportunity to improve transparency when it comes to the final consumer.

For Jérôme Tordjmann continues: “Maybe Karl-Heinz is right. He has had more time to think it over than we have. At first the news came as a shock but, upon reflection, brands are going to be able to benefit from the change.”

Then there is the school that believes that the best way to open to the public is via an event organised outside of show hours. Lorenzo Nencini from Incom, for the brand US Polo says: “Professionals come to a trade show to work and it is important that there is a qualitative selection of buyers at the event.” Dutch brand G-Star certainly feels that way – they have stopped showing at Bread&Butter in favour of the Italian show.

Opening exclusively to the press of the first day, Karl-Heinz Müller has taken a page out of Baselworld’s book. For François-Jean Daehn, publisher at Montaigne Publications, who is a regular at the watch shows, says: “The idea might seem interesting but, in reality, it does not work. Big bosses do not come on the first day of the event and often booths are still being set up. In the end, journalists will no longer want to come on the first day and it all becomes redundant. Also, it is important for the press, it is important to exchange with both the brands and the buyers who pass by.”

Jean-Paul Leroy (with Elena Passeri, Dominique Muret and Bruno Joly)
English version by Lauren Walker

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