Berlin Fashion Week has all the ingredients for success. Held in one of the world’s most popular cities, with fantastic venues and a thriving creative scene, it ought to be a highlight of a fashionista’s calendar.
But the event is struggling. Set up in 2007, it has long tried and failed to lure luxury labels like Gucci, Prada and Giorgio Armani. Only smaller labels like as MarcCain, Riani or Laurèl have been willing to show here.
Its main sponsor, Mercedez-Benz, recently announced it will not renew its contract with the organizer of Fashion Week, IMG agency, after this year. A spokesman said the carmaker is “negotiating with various partners about a new fashion platform in January,” but it’s unclear if Berlin will benefit.
Andreas Murkudis, the 55-year-old former director of the Museum of Things and owner of two luxury boutiques in Berlin, is scathing of his city’s Fashion Week. “Just the usual third-rate VIPs stand around there and drink champagne — it’s not of much commercial use to designers,” he said. “The truth is, Fashion Week excludes its relevant public.”
The head of Berlin’s KaDeWe department store, André Maeder, sends his buyers to have a look. But the representatives of international fashion and department stores “are in Paris at the moment, not Berlin.”
German brands and designers are struggling internationally. Fashion house liked Escada, Strenesse, Laurel, Rena Lange and René Lezard, once big names, are in decline. They find themselves squeezed between internationally renowned luxury brands like Gucci, Dior and Prada and inexpensive, high-speed fashion providers such as Zara and H&M, which can quickly adapt their collections to trends.
Few young designers can hope to follow in the footsteps of German industry greats like Jil Sander, Karl Lagerfeld and Wolfgang Joop. The problem is often one of production.
Young designers have trouble finding a textile manufacturer who can produce their clothes at acceptable prices in Germany. And the production runs are far too small for sewing factories in Turkey.