A small show calendar, but lots of parties and German celebrities. The relevance of Berlin Fashion Week for buyers in September is wavering and a new joint date with the fair gives hope.

Monday, September 5. 10 pm Französische Strasse between Gendarmenmarkt and Friedrichstrasse. Fogged windows, hearty laughter, clinking glasses. The mood is boisterous. Around 400 guests have gathered at the Borchardt restaurant, the Fashion Council Germany has invited to the Fireside Chat, the most important industry meeting and official opening of Berlin Fashion Week. But a glance around the room reveals that this is not a pure industry meeting.

In addition to a manageable number of buyers and a few market observers, it's more influencers and it-people like Matthias Schweighöfer, Heike Makatsch and Stefanie Giesinger who dominate the scene here. The situation is similar at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week (MBFW) and at other top events such as the Berlin Salon. From a pure marketing ambition, certainly a success.

Berlin has always had the desire to be noticed and to dance along on the international fashion parquet. But that remains a considerable challenge. "Berlin is an exciting city, but it needs the trade show," says Matthias Mey, co-owner of the eponymous bodywear brand. Mey supplied the lingerie for Kilian Kerner's show, but he does not see a direct effect on business from the runway presentation. "For us, the cooperation is primarily about getting our lingerie out there in real time and in combination with Kilian's strong looks,” he adds. 

Dirk Büscher, managing director at Marc Cain, echoes that sentiment. "Our show doesn't do us any good anymore from a wholesale or order point of view." After all, he says, the buying round has long since been completed. With its appearance in Berlin, the womenswear brand wants to increase its brand awareness, especially among consumers.

Activist Orsola De Castro (right) with panelists during "New Luxury and Sustainability Talk" at Estethica, MBFW Berlin
Photo: Shauna Summers for Nowadays
Activist Orsola De Castro (right) with panelists during "New Luxury and Sustainability Talk" at Estethica, MBFW Berlin
A concept that works well for already established labels with a stable customer network. However, for most of the designers at Fashion Week in Berlin, especially the up-and-coming ones, this is not the reality. For designers like Angelika Kammann and Alisa Menkhaus, for example, the Menkhaus brand is represented by her label Susumu Ai with an off-site showcase as well as in the group show at the Berlin Salon. To her, it is "an honor" to be present in Berlin. At the same time, she too is concerned about how to move the format forward. She would like to see more investment and rethinking. First and foremost, she would like to see designers integrated into the planning of the event. "Berlin is the creative melting pot. We would come up with a lot of cool ideas that would benefit everyone.”

Kamann also exhibits at Berlin Salons with her Up & Coming label Société Angelique. She loves the freedom Berlin gives her. Nevertheless, she has decided to show her collection in Paris as well. One of her reasons, probably the decisive one: "There are more buyers in Paris, especially international buyers."

To give designers and exhibitors of Berlin Fashion Week new opportunities for more contacts, a parallel date with the fairs makes more sense. Good news, then, that next year there will again be a joint concept at an earlier date. An opportunity, as Marcus Kurz also finds: "Only together can we take a step forward." While the managing director of Nowadays and the person responsible for the MBFW had recently spoken out in favor of this later date due to the pandemic, Kurz now wants to let calm return to Berlin - something that is owed to Germany as a fashion location. One essential point here is to avoid collisions with international fashion weeks. "That is one of the reasons why Berlin is currently not so internationally relevant." An earlier date in January or July would ensure this, positioning the Berlin Fashion Week in the calendar well ahead of the international designer shows in February and August.

Marcus Kurz cannot yet say whether the new date will also require a completely new concept. Talks with the Premium Group are still at the beginning. The only thing that is clear to him is that the format should in any case crystallize talent in the design sector and make it visible, "à la Antwerp Six”. In any case, there is no lack of fashionable spirit and talent in Berlin.

This article was published by textilwirtschaft.de on September 14, 2022

By Aylin Yavuz