Last week Bread & Butter chief Karl-Heinz Müller announced some changes for next winter show edition. As one consequence of the discussed summer event he wants to bring the fair back to the roots of a more selected brands show. According to that he cancelled the application of 120 brands and former exhibitors that won’t exhibit next January.

We talked to brands and retailers and asked about their opinion:

Malik Cardakli, Managing Director, FG Fashion Generation, Germany:
“We are quite furious about the behavior of the trade fair, especially because the press was informed first before speaking with the companies. The decision is completely inacceptable, this is undisguised ignorance for the retail trade as a whole, above all else that part of retail which consists of more than ‘big’ brands. Many buyers come for brands like ours because retail is constantly on the lookout for fresh and innovative collections and alternatives. In my opinion Bread & Butter is taking a big risk. If, for example, our visitors stay away or a top brand drops out, then the problem will get bigger.”

Torsten Widarzik, Country Manager, Levi’s Germany:
“Nevertheless, as a brand person I think the decision is right. KH has to manage and continue to develop his brand and emphasize its core value. I think that over the past few seasons Bread & Butter has lost its clearly name recognition, though that has been compensated for by the location, which is top-notch. But the tendency was clearly evident. A trade fair must always be a step ahead, too. The cancellation by the exhibitors will not affect our decision. The trade fair was not without relevance for us before that. We continue to be in close contact and will see how things go.”

Akin Erdogan, CEO, MOD, Germany:
“By taking this decision, Bread & Butter has made itself into the tool of a very few top brands and is allowing the terms for its trade fair concept to be stipulated by others. Where have the energy and drive and the motivation of the founding years of Bread & Butter gone? The Bread & Butter has its very own way of interpreting ‘back to the roots...’. It takes the platform away from those brands serving niches, labels being sought out by retailers who do not want to have the big players tell them what has to be in stock. Customers and buyers at important establishments have come to us expressing their horror and confusion and could only shake their heads over the decision made by Bread & Butter. These are the buyers who had come to the trade fair to look at new, fresh, and innovative collections. In the future they will only get to see what they had already planned for in their limits long before. The Bread & Butter is dispensing with a large part of its appeal voluntarily if the most prized pieces are missing from the exhibitor portfolio.”

Ersin Binicioglu, CEO, Cross Jeans, Germany:
“So far we have not received a cancellation and await what comes next with anticipation. I would very much like to talk to Karl-Heinz Müller about it. To us, the Bread & Butter is of tremendous importance and a cancellation would also have financial consequences, because we have already booked all the flights and hotel accommodation and are obviously working on our booth. I am also unable to understand what criteria were decisive in this decision. It is about the industry as a whole and Karl-Heinz Müller has responsibility to bear. Of course it is his trade fair and he can do what he wants, but he should do well enough in advance so that plans can be made.”

Christina Käßhöfer, Marketing Manager, Diesel, Germany:
“For us nothing changes because of it. We had a contract with Karl-Heinz Müller for four seasons, now we feel quite well positioned at the Premium with Diesel Black Gold. I haven’t heard anything different from Italy either.”

Dieter Holzer, CEO, Tom Tailor Holding AG, Germany:
“We had tremendous success at the Bread & Butter in July with our lifestyle brands Tom Tailor Polo Team and Tom Tailor Denim. To be an exhibitor at this major trade fair gave us the opportunity to present our brands to a specialized international audience. We were able to thrill and inspire with thousands of visitors to our booths and an outstanding polo tournament – and that is exactly what a trade fair is about. Our success at the Bread & Butter certainly caused irritation with some exhibitors. Karl-Heinz Müller is pursuing his vision for the Bread & Butter and is developing the trade show with a lot of determination. Having good brand recognition is the key to all successful concepts. We regret no longer being present at the Bread & Butter and at the same time look forward to further developments in Berlin.”

Federica Fusco, Marketing manager and co-owner, FGF Industry, Italy:
“I think this decision points in the right direction because, due to the number of exhibitors as well as to the quality of the brands, the fair’s last edition was very chaotic and confusing. In my opinion, the number of labels should be reduced, more carefully selected and properly grouped, which would be convenient for visitors.”

Cristina Calori, owner WP Lavori, Corso/Woolrich, Italy:
"We think that this is definitely the right decision, as it is coherent with the new business perspective function of the trade show platform, helping both the brands and retailers showcase a clearer vision. We welcome and appreciate this decision and we are sure that it will make the trade show more attractive and efficient."

Tommaso Pecchioli, owner of Gerard Loft, Italy:
"I think it’s time that they make a change. This show has existed for ten years. In the fashion business, after ten years you either change radically or you're dead. Apart from the bad market situation, both exhibitors and visitors have grown tired of it. In the last editions, brands like Ralph Lauren, Replay and Diesel dropped out because the show’s formula just isn’t interesting anymore. They tried to revamp it by changing locations and moving to other cities, but that wasn’t enough. I think they should drastically cut the number of exhibitors - even down to 400. Another solution could also be to split the fair into two different shows, one offering a clear selection of upmarket jeans and fashion brands and the other aimed at more mainstream, generalist stores."

Klaus Dickhöfer, owner Jeans Project, Germany:
“We at Jeans Project are no longer interested in participating in Bread & Butter. We cannot work with arrogant people who don’t fulfil our market needs. We go for mainstream brands, and if the fair doesn’t include names like Levi’s, Diesel and Timezone, it doesn’t make sense for us to join in. Moreover, most of our orders have had already been placed by the start of Bread & Butter. In general, the city is expensive, our expenditures are high, and when we travel with three people we have to consider the costs. It is truly a pity that the fairs change their concepts every two years. We definitely won’t be coming to Berlin.”

Norman Jaspers, owner of Jaspers, Germany:
“I haven’t heard a word about that yet. For us Bread & Butter is not interesting, as we didn’t find enough women’s wear there. We won’t visit the fair.”

Roberto Ventura, owner Den Store, Italy:
"When B&B was born, there were no competitors. Since then, many other shows have mushroomed. I think that in order to once again become effective and impressive, B&B should turn its focus back to denim, the main inspiration from which it originated. Over time, the show started including more and more product categories although its core identity was always jean. That's where it should remain, especially when involving trendsetting and authentic brands."

Barney Waters, Vice President of Marketing for Palladium, USA:
“I think a focus on quality over quantity is a positive step, and a direction I welcome.  We’ll continue to attend and I feel confident it will still remain one of the world’s best brand showcases.”

Roland Heim, co-owner of Zeitzeichen, Germany:
"I was glad that the halls weren’t as crowded as last time and I think that Karlheinz’s decision to more strictly filter and select brands was absolutely right. We as retailers owe it to our customers to visit the fairs, also and especially during difficult times. I don’t understand retailers who claim that with access to approximately 2,000 collections, they’ve already seen everything and that they found nothing new. I can’t help but think that these retailers probably didn’t want to see anything new, because on the contrary, there were so many new things that we were on the verge of running out of space to to fit everything. The affordable multi-brand section was so full with so many new things that have been developed over the last season, that one couldn’t possibly be sad that the established names have tended to rely a bit too much on the classics. This is why new labels now have a good chance to enter the market. Thank the lord that labels like Diesel, Replay, Miss Sixty and so on no longer dictate us and how much we have to buy, pushing us to reach our limits until we can’t fit in something new. In our opinion, labels like Anerkjendt, Rut Mfl, MbyM or Glamourous have done their homework and now belong in the affordable multi-brand section.
Of course, over the last three years it’s become easier to maintain brands such as Bench. However, this kind of trade never really appealed to us, even though there’s good money to be made in there. Now it’s over and there are many who don’t know what else to sell. It’s now up to us to find the next big thing by trying many new, little labels. As long as we’re still having fun, we don’t have to worry about our store’s future."

Nicole Sicker, buyer of Jeans Kaltenbach, Germany:
"We don't have much to say regarding this topic, especially as we've only just heard the news. We feel certain that Mr. Müller made his decision after careful deliberation. We won't be able to decide if this is something that makes B&B more attractive until the exhibiting brands are fixed. At the moment our journey plans have not yet changed."

Michael Paradise, owner of The Stronghold, USA:
"The last Bread & Butter show was, in every regard, the finest apparel trade show that I have attended in over 30 years in the business. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing whatever Karl-Heinz Muller and his staff are planning for the next show. If they want to do some editing of their brand offering, that's fine with me. Regardless of whether the show is larger or smaller, I'm planning on going to Berlin."

Donna Ida Thornton, Owner of Donna Ida, UK:

"I'm very interested to see the redesign which could take Bread and Butter to the next level. In today's market, it's important to stand out from your competitors, so this is a positive move for them. I will definitely keep an eye out and look at visiting in 2013."