Honest review: What’s it like for a designer at Berlin Fashion Week

Berlin Fashion Week, the first one on the International Fashion Week calendar, ended last week. Yes, that means that the SS18 season is officially open. Thousands of hopeful independent designers and fashion managers travelled to the German capital to lock-in some early orders and explore the German market opportunities.

Berlin Fashion Week vs Paris Couture Week

At the same, time Paris was hosting Couture Fashion Week, which has attracted a lot of media attention this season – with claims that Paris Haute Couture fashion week is becoming a Ready-to-Wear ready (pun intended). Naturally, all big eyes (this mostly refers to media) were turned to Paris last week. Meaning, Berlin was not going to attract main media, but perhaps any luck of attracting fashion buyers?

We spoke with a couple of designer brands at DIY Fashion Agency to get the grip of how was it actually like in Berlin, which hosts at least five tradeshows during the Fashion Week.

Fashion trade ©Alterio Felines
Fashion trade ©Alterio Felines

No return on investment?

A young independent accessories brand (who didn’t want to reveal their name) admitted, that although it was the first time they participated in the German tradeshow (a Show&Order in this case), they wouldn’t recommend a young brand to invest money as they did.

How much did it cost?

A couple of thousand Euros.

What was the atmosphere?

The brand selection was very good and coherent. But the reason the tradeshow failed – it didn’t attract enough visitors, thus all the above factors didn’t make any sense. No orders were placed.

Julia Janus 'Black Science' Fashion Agency London
Julia Janus ‘Black Science’ AW18

Another participant at the same tradeshow was a fashion brands manager and commentator from Lithuania Arnoldas Remeika. Mr Remeika brought one of the leading Lithuanian apparel brands Julia Janus and their SS18 collection ‘Soliaris’ to the tradeshow. It was the first time they tried the Berlin Fashion Week.

Unrealistic expectations?

Although the brand that Arnoldas was representing had a lot of traction (Germans like Northern European aesthetics, says Arnoldas), the business has significantly slowed down.

“Fashion industry is slowing down in Europe, including Germany. This is most obvious not during the fashion shows but at the tradeshows – where business deals are made”, says Mr Remeika.

We have recently questioned, how many fashion weeks are too many? And is participating at the let’s say London Fashion Week or Milan Fashion week is an answer to a young designer’s needs?

International Fashion Business Course by Fashion Bloc Fashion Agency London
London Fashion Week

Arnoldas agrees, that the overpopulation of fashion related events, shows and exhibitions creates unrealistic expectations, especially for the young brands, that often stay unnoticed in the tradeshows per se:

“It’s sad to see empty showroom spaces, where designers, who paid thousands and are expecting to get some orders, are standing alone and waiting for a miracle. A kind of a masochist way of wasting money.”

Test before buy

Arguably, there isn’t a better way of saving your money than not taking any risks. However, you can’t be sure without trying. The safest way is to go and see first before participating at any fashion event, as we always suggest to our designers.

It is, however, necessary to bear in mind, that luck and your industry network play a huge role. Thus, each experience is individual.

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