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A new hub in the making? Fashion fairs bid farewell to Berlin as they move to Frankfurt

By Weixin Zha

Jun 8, 2020

Frankfurt, Germany’s financial capital, is gearing up to replace Berlin as the country’s centre for fashion. Premium, the biggest fashion fair in Berlin, is, at last, leaving the German capital after two decades. In the summer of 2021, Premium and Messe Frankfurt, the owner of green fair Neonyt, will stage a fashion week in the city of Frankfurt for the first time.

In contrast to Berlin, the current Berlin-based fairs Premium, Seek and Neonyt will work more closely together on the exhibition grounds in Frankfurt, which are owned by the fair company Messe Frankfurt. Conferences, such as Fashionsustain and Fashiontech, will complement the fairs, along with events and fashion shows throughout the city. Frankfurt Fashion Week will focus primarily on the themes of sustainability and digitalisation, the organisers said at an online press conference on Monday.

"Old ways do not open new doors," said Detlef Braun, chief executive officer of Messe Frankfurt. "The Fashion Week in Frankfurt will have enormous potential. Frankfurt can do fashion from today." He expects around 2,000 fashion labels to show their collections at the coming joint fair in July 2021 and 140,000 visitors from 100 nations.

Picture: Premium Managing Director Anita Tillmann (far left) and Messe Frankfurt CEO Detlef Braun (2nd from right) | Screenshot of the press conference on Frankfurt Fashion Week

Frankfurt aspires to become a fashion hub

Berlin as a trade fair destination for the German and international fashion industry started to unravel with the insolvency of the Panorama trade fair at the beginning of this year. The moving of womenswear fair Premium, streetwear show Seek and green fashion fair Neonyt marks the end of Berlin as a trade fair location for fashion.

The declining number of visitors at Berlin Fashion Week has also questioned the business concept of fashion fairs during a time when so much can be found online. The coronavirus pandemic brought more doubt upon the concept of fashion fairs as major events such as trade fairs had to be cancelled or postponed,while SS21 collections have to be presented and ordered online.

It was important to find a location where synergies could be bundled, said Anita Tillmann, managing director of Premium Group during a press conference on Monday. "Combining the trade fairs makes absolute sense. The call from the industry could no longer be ignored in the end." In Messe Frankfurt, Premium Group has found a strong partner, which is the world's largest organiser of textile fairs with more than 50 trade fairs.

Picture: Fashion photo shoot between bank branches | Screenshot from the advertising video of Frankfurt Fashion Week

It is still unclear how the move of the fairs Premium and Neonyt will affect the rest of Berlin Fashion Week. In any case, this step is a major setback for the ambitions of the German capital to play in the league of international fashion metropolises. Frankfurt is already stirring up publicity and, with the help of the new trade fairs, hopes to become an international fashion centre itself.

Frankfurt stressed its efforts with the presence of Mayor Peter Feldmann at the online press conference on Monday, at which the city treasurer and business councillor also discussed their plans. Tarek Al-Wazir, the German state of Hesse’s economy minister, also promoted Frankfurt. He hopes that the city will not only be a location "for bad banks" but also for "good fashion" in the future.

Overall, the city expects that Frankfurt Fashion Week could bring 200 million euros per year. In order to boost the image of the arid banking city as creative, Frankfurt, the trade fair and the state of Hesse plan to invest 10 million euros over the next three years to bring the fashion ecosystem in the Main metropolis to life, as Frankfurt's city treasurer Uwe Becker said during the press conference: "We don't just want a Frankfurt Fashion Week in Frankfurt, we want Frankfurt to be Frankfurt Fashion Week."

Picture: Frankfurt Fashion Week