Bread & Butter Barcelona serves up a fashion feast
Bread & Butter, the indi street and jeanswear exhibition, continues to affirm itself as southern Europe's leading event of its kind and Barcelona as its second home. By Michael Fitzpatrick.
Visitor numbers for the three-day event, which closed its doors on January 20, were slightly up from the event's inaugural exhibition for Barcelona in July 2005.
According to its Berlin-based organisers, 48,800 professionals from various countries visited BBBarcelona under the roofs of the city's Fira exhibition centre in Plaza Espanya. Visitor figures were up nearly 4,000 from July's figure of 45,000.
This season the show was split into seven sections with the addition of a new area, Milk and Honey, dedicated to women's wear in what used to be a fair predominantly focused on male brands. Other sections included Fashion, Denim Sports and Street, Sportswear and Superiors dedicated to 'top global brands.'
Harry Rogers, managing director of apparel maker Naughty, said: "It's been a good show and out of the 3-4 shows we've been to this is the best. For our European customers, Spain now seems to the best place to show.
"I would have liked to have seen more buyers though. There is till too much rigmarole for them to get in, and personally I think at about 20 euros for a day's pass it is too expensive."
Rogers was referring to Bread and Butter's rigorous system of double-checking the
identity of all guests to put off representatives from copycat clothes makers.
However overall exhibitors considered the show to be a bigger success than even the last BBB in Barcelona, which shock up the fashion world in Catalonia to such an extent that established events such as Pasarela Gaudi decided to completely rethink their agendas.
Buyers opinions were mixed. Several came as from as far afield as Japan and Korea.
Mr Tashiro Tadashi, buyer for United Arrows in Tokyo, said: "There wasn't really the quality we were looking for this year; nothing that really grabbed us. But BBB is always a good package, quite impressive otherwise."
Organisers said there was a marked increase in visitors from southern Europe, with 37% coming from Spain and Portugal and around 19% from Italy. The UK and Ireland represented a healthy 8.5% of visitors.
"The split by countries affirms the Bread & Butter Eurovision concept as well as the north-south axis," said a spokeswoman for the organisers.
Just over a 1000 visitors came from North America, 995 from Scandinavia, 726 from Turkey and 700 from Greece, the Far and Middle East. 1,036 professional visitors were counted from Eastern Europe, while there were 702 visitors from South and Central America. Japan was well represented by 320 visitors and Australia by 102. Korea also sent a handful of buyers.
"Professionals from 87 nations came to catch up on the upcoming trends that were presented by a total of 780 brands, labels and designers at BBBarcelona. Underlining the tradeshow's high degree of internationality," according to the organisers.
"The great success of BBBarcelona's second edition affirms our strategy," said Bread and Butter Berlin founder Karl-Heinz Müller.
"This tradeshow has imposingly shown that it was the right decision to establish Barcelona as a platform for the Southern regions. This is why we have extended our commitments in Barcelona for an unlimited period."
In July 2005, Fira de Barcelona, situated at the foot of the Palacio de Montjuic, hosted the first Bread and Butter Barcelona.
Muller says there are plans afoot to expand BBBarcelona further still with the addition of a section for children's wear that will be introduced in July's Barcelona trade show. "The South calls for a platform in progressive kids' wear," he says.
At a press conference earlier in the week, plans for catwalk shows to accompany the trade shows were also revealed.
The announcement caused great waves in Barcelona's fashion circles, since the city already has its own entrenched fashion shows which have often been criticised for being stuffy and elitist.
For decades, because of the prevailing conservative stranglehold on fashion in Barcelona, young designers in the Catalan region had little chance to advance themselves say industry insiders. Muller says he hopes to correct this by offering the city a fresher, more open approach to catwalk shows.
"We want to address to the new generation of designers and offer them a platform that reflects their culture. At the same time we will integrate the strong Spanish design culture in this project, using Catalan designers in particular.
"The realisation of this project will put Barcelona in an international focus and represents a great opportunity for the city in an international context beyond fashion."
He emphasised, however, that the new catwalk shows were not designed to eclipse existing and established shows such as the Pasarela Barcelona.
Muller hinted that BBB's new catwalk shows would have to be financially supported by the Catalan government if they were to go ahead.
"This ambitious project can absolutely succeed if it's realised under the right conditions. But we do not see ourselves again in the sole financial responsibility. Without a doubt it needs financial support from [government] officials."
The catwalk shows would be tacked onto the existing three days of BBBarcelona making it a five day event, but Muller said the details of this longer event, that would then match Barcelona's existing Fashion Week, had not been finalised yet.
Bread & Butter now moves to Berlin for a three-day event in February.
"BBBarcelona's success is overwhelming - we are happy about the positive response from all sides. At the same time we are looking forward to a great event in our home base Berlin. Visitors can expect a unique event as well as an outstanding brand portfolio including 500 brands, labels and designers," says Muller.
By Michael Fitzpatrick.
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