In the past 4 years that we’ve been covering Bread & Butter, first in Berlin, and then in Barcelona, we have continued to be impressed by just how out-of-the-box the B&B organization tends to think when it comes to creating the themes and designs of their trade show. Bread & Butter was the first to lower the height of exhibitor walls so that most people can see in, and basically leveling the playing field for exhibitors and retailers. While some booths are still massive such as Levi’s, Pepe Jeans, G-star and others, mostly located in the Denim section of the show, there’s still a sense that at Bread & Butter, you can see the latest inspirations coming from European urban, denim, and street and sportswear brands in a relaxed and entertaining atmosphere that moves things way beyond a traditional concept of “trade show.” In many ways, Bread & Butter has redefined the meaning of a trade show and you can see the influences B&B has had in other trade shows today, particularly Project in the U.S., plus Agenda, United, Pool, ASR, and London Edge.
July 4-6 in Barcelona became not only the hub of European fashion because of Bread & Butter, the trade show, but also because of what surrounds Bread & Butter and weaves its way through the show, which includes thousands, or rather 91,000 people specifically, who tend to be leading fashion players themselves. The show makes for excellent trend watching for those interested in premium denim, street and sportswear based on the type of people wearing such styles.
In addition, the show as usual includes various activities and innovative booth concepts that make it more of an event than an actual trade show—and it’s this ingenuity from both Bread & Butter and the exhibitors themselves that lend an almost circus-like atmosphere of fun, design, and business to Bread & Butter. Overall, the show is divided into sections such as Denim, Fashion, Sport & Street, BBKids, Superior, Studio.V, and Serendipity. In the middle of each hall is an outdoor Luna Park that includes the press lounge, various exhibitions such as Havaiana’s paint-your-own-flip-flop area, Wrangler jeans’ stage and rotating exhibition, Swarovski Crystal art and T-shirt gallery, G-star runway show, and a “beach scene” complete with water, sand, and beach balls, a SkyBar overlooking the entire show, and a variety for food booths. This year, the Luna Park was almost too packed as people spilling from one hall to the next ended up congregating in the outdoor area to sit down and relax and check out the scene.
Changes that were apparent other than the fact that the show continues to get bigger, is that the Superior area now also hosts many premium denim brands such as 7 for All Mankind, Morphine Generation, andNudie Jeans, among others, which mean that seeking out latest trends in premium denim meant wandering outside of the actual Denim section itself as more brands are attempting to move into upper urbanwear—which is a different version than upper urbanwear in America which tends to have a more multi-cultural approach to the genre.
The other trends to note from the show were the proliferation of new up-and-coming brands in the Sport & Street halls especially on the bottom floors, such as Lazy Oaf out of the UK, Extra out of Russia, and JB Classics sneaker brand out of San Francisco, CA, with their chrome-kicks. The Sport & Street area includes 5 floors and is one of the busiest areas of the entire show. Rumor has it that the expansion plans for January Bread & Butter will include more for Sports & Street brands, including exhibitions, music, and graffiti and street art. As you walked into the Sport & Street area, the walls were lined with 7th Letter Crew artwork—the famous street and graffiti artist network out of Los Angeles, which ironically hit the cover of the LA Weekly the next week in Los Angeles, and a collaboration with Royal Elastics. The hall continued to feature more American brands that usually show up at shows such as United, Agenda, ASR, and Project, including Famous Stars and Straps, Nikita, Nixon, Airwalk, Atticus, andObey, but has mostly expanded with a slew of American urban brands such as the United crew with Cipher, Official, Stacks & Bundles, andFree Gold Watch, and brands such as 10 Deep, Crooks & Castles, The Hundreds, Mishka NYC, andUndr Crown. Generally in this area, it’s clear that more brands are moving into sneaker culture, which was also seen in the Denim and Superior areas with brands such as 7 for All Mankind showcasing their footwear line, as well as True Religion. In Sport & Street, new sneaker brands such as JB Classics were on hand, as well as Kawasaki from Denmark, Spingle from Japan, and Cipher from Hong Kong, among others.
The Fashion section was where one could get a sense that because Bread & Butter was in Spain, there were a majority of Spanish and Italian brands in some areas, including Klingo, Armarillo Lemon, andCheapo, plus again some American girl brands that started with a streetwear bent but have since moved simply into fashion such as Gentle Fawn and Soundgirl. It’s interesting to see that the DIY entrepreneurial spirit is alive and thriving in other parts of Europe, as illustrated by the increase in new brands showing in this section.
Of course, most people are at the show to seek out latest trends in Denim. The marketing theme and look of the Denim hall was incredible with a massive Japanese temple front framed in indigo and then again in massive Lego-like lights inside (i.e., representing the fact that Japanese denim is about as premium as the industry can be). The people behind Bread & Butter afterall, come from the denim industry and know what’s premium and what’s not, and have an aesthetic sensibility that is extremely artistic and in-tune with trends—not to mention creating correspondingly cool music for each hall and lounge areas. The Denim hall had all of this in spades.
As the denim industry grows, there’s a strong demand for sourcing for denim specifically, which may be one reason why in January, Bread & Butter will include an entire Sourcing area, including the established Denim Mill “Ortanadolu” from Turkey as well as the “Interwashing Group” from Italy. As show director Karl-Heinz Müller said during the press conference, “Bread& Butter Sourcing will take place in hall 6, above the known grounds. Here, we envision textiles, ingredients, laundries, finishing, as well as all relevant preliminary sectors.” According to the B&B strategy, the firms will be carefully selected internationally, with the “focus on the best in each sector with approximately 100 exhibitors. We will be able, for instance, to consider a maximum of 8-10 established Denim fabricants. Basically, it is important to us that the companies appreciate and respect each other.”
Respect is clearly found for Bread& Butter itself, but there were far more people taking photos that did not have press passes at this show than in others previous. The rip-off type of photography became so prevalent that by the second day, many booths had make-shift signs up that stated no photos, and many people complained that all day they had to control the photo shooting and sheer rudeness of some people coming into their booths and looking through their lines without so much as a proper greeting. The lack of salutations could be a cultural thing as it appeared at this show that there were more “visitors” with undisclosed badges associated to some brand or another, and thievery was reported by many exhibitors by the end of the show, which is unfortunate.
Overall however, the attendance was up, the number of exhibitors was over 1,000 (they stopped counting), and the largest increase in percentages came from Germany, the U.S., and possibly out of Russia as the streetwear scene in the East continues to explode. What’s happening now with Bread & Butter Barcelona is that the summer show in particular has become the location for many brands looking to expand into the European marketplace, particularly new streetwear and denim brands out of the U.S., and also those interested in expressing their designs through collaborations and artwork. One final note is that this show has also created a bubbling new sneaker scene.