The Future of Fashion in Berlin: Innovative, Creative, Sustainable

Bread & Butter Berlin Denim Religion Show

The Bread & Butter, the largest and most significant trade show in Berlin, has declared bankruptcy. Will this be the end of this legend, the end of an era? And if so, what will this mean for Berlins Fashion Week and Berlin as an international hub for fashion business?

The Bread & Butter trade show could be connected to a lot of things of the fashion industry that are in many ways unsustainable. A “You Only Live Once” philosophy. A Bigger Bolder Better attitude. The sky is the limit and on top of that limit there will be another party waiting for you. And the fair and its founder Karl-Heinz Müller were often said to be arrogant and megalomaniac. The extraordinary trade show was also the master of producing trash. And meanwhile, there are many fairs and shows in Berlin. So, who cares? The fair played its role for Berlin and its underlying paradigm of unlimited growth and consume is getting out of fashion..

But one thing made this fair different from all the others: a strong vision. It always wanted to be more then a trade show, it wanted to merge business with celebration, show with party. And with that, the Bread & Butter brought business to Berlin and helped the city to become an internationally renown fashion capital.

Probably the show was always a bit ahead of some of its exhibitors. If you read the interviews with Müller, he has been proclaiming a “choose quality, consume less” message for quite some years now, in example in 2009 he said to Exberliner: “I think a general trend is that people will consume less, with more awareness. They’ll look for authentic products. They will look for where it comes from, what it means, what history is behind it. A pair of really well-made jeans, for example, or really good leather shoes.”

Berlin is not only risking to loose its most relevant fashion trade show, and therewith also the significance of its fashion week, it is currently also risking to drain its creative identity. There is an increasing pressure on the cities creative scene. The answer should be a bold new vision on the cities creative future, and addressed with according actions and resources. A vision that nurtures bottom up innovations, supports its creative communities and local retail market, offers them gentrification-proof spaces to develop, and truly and thoroughly invest in sustainable solutions and initiatives in the city.

Now is the time to discuss what fashion business in Berlin should be about. According to me, that future should be about those three elements: innovation, creativity and sustainability. That mixture is what makes Berlin interesting and dynamic, and will also play an ever increasing role in the fashion business.

If there is not a vision, there will not be a future. As a protest against gentrification, friends of the streetartist BLU recently painted over his piece in Berlin Kreuzberg with black paint. Sometimes you need to paint something over to make space for new things. Catharsis. Let the new things be good and the visions bold.

And maybe, there will be a phoenix rising..

blu black

Photos: Bread & Butter Denim Religion Show; Blu street art piece painted over with black paint

Simplicity in Business

christoph harrach

Back in 2007, during the preparations of the Fair Fashion Affair with Cecilia Palmer, showing freshly started ethical brands like Slowmo, Magdalena Schaffrin or Armedangels in an improvised yet momentous event, I got in contact with this friendly, newly started blogger Christoph Harrach who wrote under the name Karmakonsum..

Shortly after, he founded the Karmakonsum Conference, which rapidly became one of the most significant events for sustainable lifestyle in the German speaking area. Back then in collaboration with Noel Klein-Reesink, who nowadays runs the sneaker brand Ekn Footwear, he brought this conference to be a place that brings together people in an inspiring and connecting setting. It welcomes people that are interested to do yet more then “just” a little extra of ethical labeling or CSR monitoring, people that practice their idea of sustainability in their daily lives as well as professionally. Wether CEO’s, social entrepreneurs or hardcore activists, this conference brings them together and makes them share a common spirit. A spirit of friendliness, forward vision and positive intent. The accompanying camp and award also make it the right place to go for start-ups.

Over the recent years, the conference got a slightly more spiritual approach, but with an open-minded, inter-religious set up. This year the lead topic is Simplicity in Business. Breath in. Breath Out. Get Your Ticket. It is that simple. Be there!