From the 6th to 8th July 2011 took place one of the biggest sports and street tradeshows in Europe if not the world – the infamous ‘Bread and Butter’ (BBB) tradeshow. Founded in 2001, 2011 marks the 10th year anniversary of this twice yearly show showcasing design companies in the areas of Street Fashion Denim, Sportswear, Street Fashion, Function Wear and Casual Dressed Up. Bread and Butter now houses around 600 of these fashion exhibitors. It presently takes place at the historical venue which is the Berlin-Tempelhof Airport but I recall the days where it was presented in Barcelona. Just before it moved to Berlin I was one of those visitors who was initially disappointed with the move out of Spain but who is now very happy with the new venue and have had the luxury to visit on various occasion and seen the growth and the changes.
READ BELOW FOR OUR FOCUS ON ETHICAL BRANDS
Firstly I would recommend visiting BBB in the summer show as Berlin can be biting cold at times in the winter Jan shows, and can be very warm in the summer July shows, secondly book ahead and register ahead in time so you don’t have to go through the huge queueing system to register once you arrive; thirdly book ahead of time your flights and your hotel as you can imagine thousands of people are hitting berlin during this season and even Easyjet can take advantage of this time and extensively overcharge you for a near 2 hour flight into Berlin from London…the next show lands in Berlin from Wednesday, 18th – Friday 20th January 2012 so you have been pre-warned. Another…the 2nd to last point to note is to wear comfortable shoes and comfortable clothes. Airport Berln Tempelhof is a huge airport and spans a 1.2km quadrant so if you are like me and once you get to one end and realise y ou need to meet a company at another end then flat comfy shoes are the way to go as you WILL be walking lots and for hours too. AND the final point is to bring plenty of business cards – come stacked up…even myself, I ran out of my AfricaFashionGuide bcards as I tend to network with everyone I meet.
My very short trip was brief and my focus on this trip varied but I did want to being to you the Ethical focused fashion brands that I came across at the trade events I visited which on this occasion were Bread and Butter and also Bright Tradeshow too. Our Germany based contributor and researcher Sarah Moa Gilbert gave us a snapshot of what happened at the Green Showroom event also in Berlin.
In regards ETHICAL aspect of BBB and the brands that showcased, firstly BBB now have their own charity organisation called B&B for Charity which has been in operation since 2004. They partnered this season with charitable organisation Laughing Hearts which support kids from children’s homes in Berlin giving them the opportunity to do things they may not get the chance to do normally such as specific hobbies and leisure activities and support and encouragement with their career aspirations. so BBB provides items that are a limited B&B for Charity collection from socially committed BREAD & BUTTER exhibitors such as Anvil and all proceeds from the sale of the T-shirts, hats, shoes and unique accessories get donated to Laughing Hearts.
In regards to ethical apparel three very different brands really stood out to me. There was were Skunkfunk. A casual mens, women’s babies and accessories label that has shown at BBB before and tends to have stalls with a lot of green – not sure if that was to speak ethics OR because they just like … well… green. Either way social and environment issues are strong on their agenda. They say:
Skunkfunk strongly believes fashion and environmental and social concerns should go hand-in-hand. Our website is a perfect channel to start sharing our experience on this journey towards sustainability: not just explain our history but also to share our latest milestones, the stones on the road and the direction we are taking. From the design rooms to fabric sourcing, logistics and own operations, Skunkfunk is working hard in order to switch the negative impacts for positive ones in all three legs: people, planet and prosperity.
I spoke with the Skunkfunk director who informed me when I quizzed him on the ethical side of their business was that ‘Ethical Fashion’ doesn’t really exist as once you produce a product it is not ethical anymore as you are creating something and producing waste as a process, then there is the carbon footprint and the effect on the environment etc . A strong but very valid point he made. So his focus with Skunkfunks ethical direction was in the materials used as they liked to use cellulosic fabrics such as Lyocell and Modal which also are soft and beautiful to the touch, they use organic cotton through to recycled polyester which in their own ways are all less harmful to the environment with a lesser impact.. So as well as their philosophy this is the aspect that they focus on to be ‘doing their bit’.
One of my favourite heritage ethical apparel brands that has been doing ethical clothing for over 40years now was KnowledgeCotton Apparel. KnowledgeCotton Apparel has vast experience in design, quality and innovation, with a main focus on responsible environmental practice which remain a fundamental standard of their business.
I spotted them at BBB last July and loved their philosophy and their work from the wise owl logo to the use of ethical materials to the family business background. I was surprised to be speaking with their CEO Mads Mørup (son of the founder Jørgen Mørup) without realising it was him and praised them for their business and ethics. He said for him it was important to be part of this type of event as it is important to attend and know exactly what was going on in the business at every level. I have a lot of respect for that view and built up great dialogue with him too.
Mads is the son of the founder Jørgen Mørup who in 1969 founded J.Mørup Stof fabric mill ‘a leader in the development and manufacturing of 100% Organic Cotton knitted fabrics of unsurpassed quality and is one of the largest Organic Cotton producers in Northern Europe.’
Mads formed KnowledgeCotton Apparel with a focus on sustainability and it is refreshing to see a quality brand which doesn’t just speak ethical but looks premium too.
There were a few ethical and sustainable denim brands at BBB too. First was Monkee Genes whose tagline relates to fairtrade standards and the ETI(Ethical Trading Initiatives) base code of conduct. Their foundation is set on the principal to manufacture with conscience and without sweatshop labour and the tag line of ‘no blood, no sweat, no tears’ sums this all up.
They use Soil Association accredited Organic cotton in their denim and though they have only been around for the last years have seemed to make an impact in UK fashion for ethical yet fashionable denim. Check out their site to see the new colours they have and the short crop silhouettes too – definitely worth an investment.
The other brand I was excited to see was Kings of Indigo (KOI). This was the launch of this new denim brand but (ethical streetwear brand Kuyichi’s ex-Director Tony Tannaer. Tony left Kuyichi last year April as “After seven interesting years at Kuyichi, the time has come to widen my horizon and face new challenges,” said Tonnaer. He was instrumental and responsible for Kuyichi’s conceptual design and position on the international market and all these skills I am sure he will bring to KOI. Tony believes that ‘green’s gotta look good’ and this shows in the product he released with Kuyichi and definitely for his new brand Kings of Indigo. They showcased very much on trend sustainable denims, tops and accessories which culminated a year long development of the new brand and are ready to sell now to European retailers.
Kings Of Indigo are all about making jeans with a great fit and a conscience. but mixes authentic American heritage with the Japanese skill for quality and eye for detail. This follows through in the logo of a Japanese carp which is an ancient sign which stands for luck, love and perseverance.
There concept is based on the 3 R’s – ‘The Triple R concept focuses on Recycle, Repair and Re-use. Using recycled material simply saves resources and the fact that KOI offers a repair service for your damaged jeans helps you to enjoy yours a bit longer. Then when you’re ready for a fresh pair, you can leave your oldies for K.O.I to re-use in one of the next K.O.I collections.’
This brand can easily compete with the bigger named established denim brands on the market. If you love denim and a fan of streetwear you just gotta love these brands.
I came across and had a mini network meeting with two lovely buyers from ASOS who work on their GreenRoom project. We exchanged business cards (as you do) and I was invited to attend one of their ‘ASOS Green Mornings’ chats. So I will be inviting them to our launch event (details coming very, very soon) and we will be connecting with one of their buyers for future projects.
I went on to check out shoe brands too and came across Brazilian shoe brand Melissa at BBB. These ethical shoes are made from MELFLEX a recycled/recyclable non toxic plastic construction and are seriously cute and equally comfortable. The usual formation of the shoes are from a process that uses a fully recyclable injection molded plastic, and so cuts out waste from the production line. They have made quite a serious impact in the shoe market and produce all kinds of shoe products from pumps, to sneaker looking kicks through to high heels and boots and are a great vegan choice. They are so cool that they have even collaborated with high-end designers which include Vivienne Westwood, jean Paul Gaultier and more!
Over at tradeshow Bright I came across Etnies a 25 year old skate and action sports lifestyle brand with a new environmental mission to plant at least 35,000 trees in Costa Rica on the Maleku reserve. This indigenous tribe, Maleku known as ‘the guardians of the forest’ hold a life which revolves around the forest, but destructive deforestation nearly wiped out the whole race until the UN stepped in. So Etnies set up a project in conjunction with non-profit organization La Reserva Forest Foundation and promises that anyone who buys a pair of etnies Jameson 2 Eco shoes will help to reforest Costa Rica. Called the “Buy a Shoe, Plant a Tree” program, it will help to replenish and bring recovery and preservation to the indigenous tropical rainforests in the Maleku reserve.
AfricaFashionGuide Research and Contributor Sarah Moa Gilbert went over to the GREENshowroom event in Berlin. The Exhibition GREENshowroom was founded in 2009 by two designers, Jana Keller and Magdalena Schaffrin and is now supported by Messe Frankfurt GmbH, and this year took place from 6-8th July 2011 in the luxurious Hotel Adlon in Berlin Mitte. The Ethical Fashion Show Paris had a guest appearance with some of the brands noted below.
“What does it feel like, wearing eco-fashion?” a man with a camera and microphone asks one of the models backstage directly after the GREENshowroom Salonshow took place on the Thursday to a room of invited guests only. “This is ECO-FASHION??!” She couldn’t believe it. The clothes were too luxurious, cool and sophisticated in her mindset to believe it was ethical but it was these converations that made the event successful and interesting. The model felt sorry for being badly informed, but she couldn’t help herself – how should she have known then?
The location – Hotel Adlon Kempinski, is one that has been preferred by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt as well, and the organisation gave away black fans and a GREENshowroom bag filled with Dr. Hauschka products on every seat. Overall it was very professionally executed. The singing DJ’s sound was absolutely extraordinary which gave an atmosphere to the event.
In describing the event, the GREENshowroom present it as an “un-conventional trade-fair/showroom … conceived to enrich the fashion world”. They believe that “The future of the high-end lifestyle sector lies in the combination of luxury and sustainability” and so wish to redefine the meaning of luxury in a more contemporary way – because to be a luxury product means the consumer should know where the products are conceived, and that it is produced in a socially responsible way with ecological material. The brands on show must prove that 60% or more of their product is sustainable. This is then shown to the visitors via displayed icons in their leaflet to represent these various criteria such as the use of organic materials, adhering to fairtrade principals, the use of reycling, and so forth.
The innovative GREENshowroom Trade Show entailed a display of the product lines, artfully dispersed among several luxurious private suites, as well as being highlighted in the Salonshow.
The brands, which showed were:
FASHION: ASANDRI, BRAINTREE, COLLECTION OF HOPE, HANNA FELTING, JESCHEWSKI, KASKA HASS, LEIBSCHNEIDER, MAGDALENA SCHAFFRIN, SAKINA M´SA, SCHMITTAKASCHI, SHEGREEN, STAT, STUDIO ECOCENTRIC, STUDIO JUX, VONWINCKELMANN, WELLICIOUS, YOG:K
ACCESSORIES: ALINA SCHUERFELD, BLACKBEAD JEWELLERY, GREEN AGE, MATERIA PRIMA, ORONDA, RITA IN PALMA, ROYALBLUSH, SARA BRUNN, SHOKAY, THE ROOTERS, WIRED
Catwalk images from SalonShow.
All images for GREENshowroom and SalonShow courtesy of Silk Relations GmbH, www.silk-relations.com
Author: Jacqueline Shaw – AFG Founder/Director
Sarah Moa Gibert – Research Contributor