While the American fashion market continues to sag under the weight of high gas prices and economic uncertainty, fashion season has officially kicked off in Europe (and Brazil). Paris shows featuring new collections such as Paul Smith have taken place, as well as the debut of Capsule last weekend. Pitti Uomo and Pitti Women showcased new styles in Florence, and Sao Paulo, Brazil Fashion Week attracted hordes of fashion players looking for the latest from South America. However, it’s Bread & Butter in Barcelona, running from July 2-4th that tends to attract a large crossover of industry players, and is the unofficial kick-off event of the “Fall” fashion trade show season.

What’s most interesting about Bread & Butter Barcelona, which starts today, July 2, is that it continues to lead trends when it comes to creating unique fashion trade show atmospheres. Each show, summer and fall, include key themes for exhibiting brands, with this year’s show called The New Order using a graph-paper-like, sleek design in red, off-white, and black. The show also creates cool lounge areas, excellent choices in cafes and food areas, and entertainment for attendees using some of the most imaginative concepts we’ve seen yet in trade show formats. Often, Bread & Butter’s ideas are copied by others in an attempt to bring a new, fresh vibe to existing trade shows, as seen mostly in trade shows in the U.S., which are often bound by conference center regulations and union laws that can inhibit truly creative formats.

With sections such as Sport & Street, Denim Base, Sportswear, Fashion Now, and Urban Superior, Bread & Butter Barcelona does an amazing job at creating a beautiful and engaging trade show for top denim brands, sneakers, contemporary fashion, sports styles, and street. For this show, as the US dollar sinks compared to the Euro, Bread & Butter Barcelona has also become the new “key” location for many American street fashion labels. In the past, the show’s tight policy of getting in had made it even more desirable, as indicated by the frenzy of streetwear labels attempting to jump the pond. As of today, it’s apparent that many labels from the States have made it into the show, including Lemar & Dauley, JB Classics, Undrcrwn, Famous Stars & Straps, Crooks & Castles, Creative Recreation, Akademiks, Atticus, Osiris, WeSC, among many others.

However, while we love this show and tend to cover it in detail, word of warning to street fashion labels who are unfamiliar with the European trade show way: Many times, orders are NOT written but rather the shows act as a meeting place and cool-factor indicator for brands and retailers. Instead, it takes a European troupe of reps and distributors to follow-up after B&B to make sure any orders are confirmed by European stores. So even if you do get into this amazing show, you’ll have plenty of work afterwards to make it worth your while. But for many brands, the risk may be worth it, as B&B provides the entry point into many desirable retail stores and boutiques.

In addition this year, Bread & Butter has also added The Source area for fashion textiles. Introduced as “not yet another ‘sample fair’ with unimaginative, boring little stands.” The format for The Source is a huge section of the Fira Barcelona area leading up the Palace, which offers a “high class ambience” and format for creative people of fashion to meet, talk, and share visions for next season. In so doing, The Source, which is in essence it’s own show with separate registration and even entrances, together with Bread & Butter Barcelona, is the first vertical show in the world that covers 2 seasons at the same time, including Autumn/Winter 2009/2010 at The Source, and Spring/Summer 2009 at BBBarcelona.

At its kick-off event, THE SOURCE will host an exclusive denim talk show on Thursday, July 3rd. The world’s most renowned denim designers, Elio Fiorucci, Fran%uFFFDois Girbaud and Adriano Goldschmied, will share their profound experiences in denim, its history, its sociological meaning and their opinion on the fashion fabrics industry’s current situation.

While some people have said that a sourcing area will make the show less intimate and simply too big, the reality is that by adding such an area, during the timeframe when most people in the European fashion industry are on-site, makes sense to those needing to do business. In addition, it would appear that this particular rendition of “sourcing” may also drive more people to interact from many different areas who may otherwise not have visited a sourcing area in the past, based on the attention to format and details, which can only enhance interaction and inspire ideas between all layers within the fashion industry.

Other highlights of Bread & Butter this year will surly be their G-star fashion runway shows which are always packed and quite entertaining. In addition, Spanish brand Desigual will be hosting a runway show, as well as Ed Hardy.

Other top brands showing at Bread & Butter this week include Nikita Clothing and Nikita Selekzion, Volcom, Mustang, Levi’s Europe, LRG, Kuyichi, Nudie Jeans, Nixon, Freesoul, Fred Perry, Fox, Antik Denim, Draven Shoes, Fenchurch, Rock & Republic, Oakley, Puma, Scifen, True Religion, Upper Playground, True Religion, True Love & False Idols, Tokidoki, and Zoo York.

Stay tuned for more stories and images from Bread & Butter as the show progresses.

For more Label Networks’ stories on Bread & Butter, search on key words or go to the Trade Show section of the site.