For the first time, urban streetwear brand Bench will pass on exhibiting at Bread&Butter Berlin this summer. The brand has announced that it is challenged by new requirements this season, meaning that processes in all cooperation areas will be put to test. There will also be an emphasis on nuanced fields that make a push into music-related activities rather than relying on the trade show as a sole platform. 

The changes of the market, the growing power of verticals, the increasing presence of the vendor's points of sale, and the cannibalization of online business are all recognized by Bench, leading to the question as to how the partner that helped Bench grow can continue to strengthen the brand. According to them, the answer lays within improved services and customer-focused trade marketing funded by a budget that increases by staying away from trade shows such as B&B. “For us, this development is an important part of our general future, especially the order planning,” said Isabelle Opitz-Ferzandi, Head of Bench Sales, Product and Marketing. The brand wants to avoid over-distribution and instead foster existing partnerships and potentials, which is why customer acquisition is no longer an argument for attending trade shows. 

The Berlin fair has also changed. Opitz-Ferzandi commented, “The presentation of the brands is a top level mise-en-scène since both the trade show and the brands work with very big budgets.” The company is critical towards the speed with which the size and volume of the brands’ presentations have developed. The show’s focus is more on image and brand, not on the products; Bench’s customers don’t expect cult, but rather a clear presentation of the collection. Over the past two months, the brand has put an emphasis on its product development and has employed two more product managers, Peter Studnitzky (PM Bench Sport) and Marcus Albrecht (PM Bench Mainline). The first collections marked by Bench Sport’s release will be presented next month, starting on June 18. 

“We want to stake our investments so that they benefit our customers,” said CEO Hanjo Argendorf, who together with Americana decided to skip in the Berlin fair this summer. “It was a difficult decision, especially since Bench was a B&B exhibitor almost right from the start, but we cannot allocate our budgets twice – particularly not after these past tough months.” Marketing Manager Norbert Loew added, “This year, we focus on comprehensive activities for retail and customers, for example at the Melt Festival, where we can employ synergy and push combined events to the max.”