Besides Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin (mercedes-benzfashionweekberlin.com), the city hosted many coinciding fashion events over the 27 – 31 January. Staring as the official show schedule finished, new luxe fair Premium premiumexhibitions.com), which took place 1 – 3 Feb at The Station, stood out as the main event.

Among the more than 800 collections on show here were new exhibitors such as Diesel (returning after a long abstinence from the fair), Original Penguin (new entrants to the German market), Shabbies Amsterdam and Puma Black Label. An additional area “Über Denim” was designed to give new input on the premium denim and jeanswear sector, with brands such as Guru, DDP, Diamond and Tribeca Jeans. Again, the “Green Living” area featured eco collections, a topic that got even more emphasis with a Premium symposium that featured designer Katharine Hamnett as key speaker.

After a very successful opening day exhibitors and retailers were very satisfied: “We had many visitors the whole day through, only top retailers, and even new clients. I think the assortment of brands at Premium is better than ever. There is a great variety that is homogenic in itself”, said Denis Kulms, Diesel sales director.

All in all 16,354 visitors attended Premium to see upcoming trends from 840 brands, in comparison to 15,647 in January 2007 and 13,822 in July 2007. Fair-goers from German-speaking countries (specifically Germany, Austria and Switzerland) were mostly in attendance at 63%, followed by 18% attendance from Italy and Southern Europe, 7% from the UK, 3% from Scandinavia, 4 % from Eastern Europe, 3% from Benelux and 2% from the US, South Africa and United Arab Emirates.

As well as Premium exhibitions, the fifth edition of Ideal Showroom ( ideal-berlin.com), again added some spice to Berlin Fashion Week from 31st January to 2nd February, taking place at Café Moskau. Creator Sumi Ha and her team presented a well-selected snapshot of about 45 international fashion labels ranging from the avant-garde and high fashion through to progressive street-wear. “The demand doesn’t move away from fashion fairs,” said Sumi Ha, “the demand removes from fashion fairs that don’t specialize”. Although, there were almost only half as many participating labels as last season, a good mix of press and buyers were in attendance with brands such as BON from Korea, Rozalb de Mura from Romania, Canadian accessory label Arielle de Pinto as well as last years graduates at University of Art Berlin: Sylvia Schoen, Sandra Aracic and Helge-Christian Schmidt. The show also hosted it’s Ideal Forum Concept, moving it from an off-site location to a special section on the main Ideal Showroom site, showcasing seven international artists from illustration, photography and fashion.

“Its getting quieter around here since the last [few] seasons, many labels are spread out in several showrooms in the city,” said Sonja Boessert and Brigitte Schorn of Berlin-based label Boessert/Schorn (exhibiting for the 5th time at Ideal Showroom). “Still, we welcome the continuity and internationality of the event and feel it as the right spot for us to present our collections.”

The fashion week also saw the premiere of the Stark fashion fair (stark-berlin.com), a new luxe event produced by the agency Klauser that took place in the Umspannwerk in Kopenhagener Straße. Stark.Men ran from 25 – 30 January and showed about 25 collections from brands such as Intuitive, Brooks Brothers and Aristolasia. It was followed by Stark.Women (1 – 7 February) at the same location. Among these 25 brands there were Majestic, Tween and Antik Batik. Even though the attendance was noticeably low, organizer Norbert Klauser was not unhappy with the result: “This is not a typical fair, it is more a luxury event,“ he said. “And for an event like this there are not so many retailers that fit in. Therefore the result for me is ok. It is the debut – all this needs [is] some time to develop.”

Projekt Galerie showrooms (projektgalerie.net), was another debut presentation of 25 avantgarde and new designers such as Ute Ploier, Damir Doma, Tjelma and Tillmann Lauterbach. Split in two locations, the Platform 1 showroom at AB Gallery focused on high fashion design labels such as A.F. Vandeforst, Annhagen and Tillmann Lauterbach, presented by Agentur K. “It is a beginning and the project definitely still needs some effort, but I am very positive about the overall concept of ProjektGalerie,” said Elfie Klemann, head of Agentur K. “It is very important to provide a presentation platform to Newcomer Labels. We prefer the showroom atmosphere much better than the anonymous fashion fair halls at Premium, where we participated during the last seasons.”

A few blocks down the Street at the Janine Bean Gallery, the 2nd ProjektGalerie Showroom “Factory” gathered mens- and womens-wear collections by mostly Berlin-based fashion labels such as Presque Fini, Majaco, Pulver and Von Wedel& Tiedeken. “Most of us have been exhibiting at Premium before, slightly disappointed by the low frequency and expensive fares,” Anna Franke from Majaco reports. “I think we all feel quite comfortable with the space we have at Torstrasse now. It is one of our last options in Berlin, to present the collections in a comfortable surrounding.”

Aside from Premium, it seemed that attendance was slightly lower than in earlier seasons. Due to the very long, one-weeek schedule and many (new) international events and shows, retailers may be overwhelmed in deciding where best to travel to, so believed one German agent. And again, Berlin fashion week attracted a significantly national audience and many less international buyers - something that which was also an issue for other European fairs where less Asian and US retailers were seen, most likely due to the strong Euro.