This was Berlin Fashion Week!
United Fashion landed for the first edition of the formula of showroom-workshop-networking for a selection of European independent fashion designers.
YOUNG EUROPEAN TALENTS
United Fashion was an opportunity to shed light on 9 talented fashion designers from Europe. The United Fashion Showroom on Premium hosted 2 brands presenting accessories: Daniel Essa with its unique luxury sneakers brand based in Lille, France, and the Brussels and London-based Ashiq Studio presenting its leather pieces which are meticulously hand cut and sewn from Italian vegetable tanned leather. Next to it you could discover HNST (pronounced as ‘honest’) and their sustainable jeans, Nika Ravnik and her timelessness ready-to-wear collection, the feminine and sophisticated wardrobe of Philippe Périssé, the casual silhouettes of Keta Gutmane, the irrevant style of Patrick De Padua, the playfull and feminine collection of Sofija Urumović, and finally Horror Vacui with their fine night wear inspired garments of Anna Heinrichs.
Fashion Council Germany, the partner that hosted United Fashion during the Berlin Fashion week 2018 organised a workshop on the German market for the selected European designers with the support of Sourcebook. The features of the German market also apply to the German-speaking DACH market – Germany, Austria and the German-speaking part of Switzerland. It is a wealthy territory of nearly 100 million people, where customers spend money on fashion (4th position in terms of purchasing importance after vacation, electronic devices and food). It is seen as a demanding market, conservative and at the same time looking for novelties. The market for niche products has indeed grown strongly in the past two years. Nevertheless, the eclectic style that people often associate with Berlin is neither representative nor mainstream in Germany.
A top criterion for the DACH end-consumer is the high quality of the product both in the way it is produced, and in the materials used. Having more conscious behaviours, their interest in sustainability shouldn’t be overlooked. They demonstrate a growing interest in the origin of clothing (its materials, the production conditions, certificates & labels…). With Instagram and internet in general, end consumers are more informed. As a positive consequence, it offers more opportunities for small daring collections. Nevertheless, proposing some basic and functional pieces will also allow you to answer the needs of the more classic customers.
Regarding the relation with your B-to-B customer, your collection should meet high quality standards, propose impeccable fit (German women being taller), and must be delivered in time. People know each other in the sector, and they would recommend working with you or not depending on your professionalism. Your reputation is of crucial importance, so you should be well-prepared and organised if you want to do business in the DACH countries. As a final tip make sure you propose a coherent collection, and, if needed, select a reduced one (eg. maximum 50 pieces) instead of a full collection when approaching the market.
During the conferences FashionTECH and FashionSUSTAIN, the United Fashion group was given the opportunity to attend keynote speeches, a panel discussion and case studies addressing the two central topics of the Berlin Fashion Week: sustainability and technologies in the fashion sector. As from the opening speech of the FashionSUSTAIN conference, the attention was given to transparency, especially when referring to the value chain, and to innovation. Another recurrent point in the discussions was the importance to favor a holistic approach when you develop a sustainable product. As Tom Duhoux from HNST summarized “every decision you make in terms of design has an impact on a specific aspect of the life cycle of your product. Not only is the responsible sourcing of raw materials important these days, but also how we process these, which colourants and additives we use and the impact this produces on the usage phase or end-of-life and recycling phase.”
Marte Hentschel, Sourcebook’s founder and CEO, guided the group through the Greenshowroom trade fair (becoming NEONYT as from 2019). The sustainable fashion sector is clearly evolving towards a broader diversity: more choices in the materials used, more motifs and patterns, a richer range of solutions, etc.
The discussions during the FashionTECH conference largely addressed the topic of the consumers’ habits and experience online. Under the provocative title “Technology is not (well – rarely!) the answer”, James Hammersley from Good Growth explained why it is important to find out why potential consumers stop the shopping process prematurely (the intention to buy being often three times higher than the conversion ratio). To do so you should ask your customers why they are on your e-shop, if the experience is successful, and if not, why?
Stefen Hoffmann shared his digital experience with Outletcity.com. The centrepiece of his strategy is to offer an end-to-end customer journey, meaning before, during and after the experience of a product. It goes from a mobile app offering parking help and scoring functions to inspirational pictures on their social media. They also use artificial intelligence (AI) to set up a dynamic pricing solution linked to the number of visits and habits of the customer.
Fashion is not only about online shopping. Various companies from the fashion and technology industry presented in an exhibition area their latest developments, wearables, innovations and business solutions with a special focus on leather and shoe wear.
United Fashion will be back in Berlin next January 2019 showcasing 9 other European fashion designers, offering workshops and networking moment. The call will be launched in September 2018. Stay tuned!