Being among the most popular cities in the world, Berlin would seem like the perfect venue to hold a fashion week and a major event on the fashion calendar. But Mercedes Benz, the largest sponsor of the event has announced they will not renew their contract with IMG Agency, the organizer of fashion week Berlin. Since 2007, the event has held 20 shows, this year with well over 100,000 visitors. And though that is a great turn out, compared to various fashion weeks in cities such as New York City, Milan, London and Paris, that number is very small.
Berlin Fashion Week has tried to entice international luxury labels like Gucci and Armani unsuccessfully, while German brands like Escada, Strenesse, Laurel and Rene Lezard are in decline. There are also fewer upcoming young designers creating collections due to the struggle to find textile manufacturers to produce clothing at an a competitive price in Germany where they are pushed aside as fast fashion has stepped in with its ability to quickly give shoppers access to trends they want at competitive prices.
Lack of representatives and exclusion of the public are also concerns. But when it comes to the public, the fashion motto of Berlin is “come as you are” not “who are you wearing?” It should also be noted that Berlin neighborhoods all have their own signature ideas of fashion. In Neukolln, middle eastern style is considered chic, while in Kreuzberg birkenstocks are the closet necessity. A Berlin fashion blog even surveyed relevancy of style in Berlin and found that there was a rejection of fashion that most women in Berlin were proud to admit. While that carries a kind of style in its own way, that is not what the event sponsors or designers want to hear; there is a level of business and consumerism that is necessary for a successful fashion week.
Just because a city is relevant and cool, doesn’t mean that includes fashion. Where there is little to no interest in fashion, how can anyone expect a successful fashion event to be held? If Berliners don’t care about fashion, there are plenty of people elsewhere around the world who do and with major fashion shows being so close to Germany throughout the year, it would make sense for a German designer looking to get exposure and interest in their concepts, to show in Paris, Milan or London. It would make it difficult for upcoming designers who lack the finances to travel and have a staff available as well as smaller brands who could be lost in the mayhem of the giant shows. Shows like New York, Milan, Paris and London cannot continue to grow and absorb other cities, its too much at one time, too many labels, too many people, but until other cities, like Berlin, can prove that they can hold their own, not just have great labels, the industry will ignore them. And all I can say is that it’s unfortunate it came to this point.
Photos courtesy of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Berlin
Sources: Deutsche Welle and Handelsblatt Global Edition