Are Fashion Trade Shows Still Relevant After Covid?

Fashion trade shows are a magical place. Similar to Homer Simpson’s expectation of what Germany looks like, the concept of a trade show sounds too good to be true.

Imagine one big building housing the hottest brands and styles just six months before every ordinary mortal will get a chance to buy said pieces in store. Sounds great for everybody who just likes fashion and does not have to take on the hustle of earning your money in this business.

Usually a trade show is a place where buyers meet with brands to write orders for their stores or look out for new brands to add to their portfolio. But over the last ten years, trade shows have also become hunting grounds for influencers, press and everybody who could get his hands on a ticket.

The fashion trade shows presented by the Premium Group have been a staple in the German capital’s fashion scene. Well, not just there – they play a big international role as well.

In January 2020 Berlin saw it’s last rendition of the trade show circuit before Covid put the world on hold for a long time. During those two years trade show regulars were surprised by a press mail announcing the departure of Premium from Berlin with Frankfurt becoming their new home base. Several attempts of starting new in Germany’s only city with a decent skyline were tried, but – no disrespect to the organizers and the stressful months they must have lived through – everybody seems to be happy for the Premium to be back in Berlin. But one question that arose over the last 24 months remained:

Do we still need trade shows? Didn’t we learn to use Zoom and Google Meets to efficiently save time and resources? Do we need to shake hands and have smalltalk?

So from July 7th until July 9th the ICC – International Congress Center Berlin – became the new location to not host just one trade show, but the Premium, Fashion Tech (“The interactive Innovation Space for Fashion, Tech and Lifestyle Content“), SEEK (“Where the progressive Fashion Community creates the Future“) and for the first time – The Ground Festival  (“A Celebration of Style and Culture“).

In case of SEEK – a more streetwear-oriented show – changing the location from Kreuzberg’s Arena to the ICC was a bold move, but it made sense. For the first time all shows where taking place in the same location what made it much easier for visitors to experience three days of fashion without the hustle of catching trains and cabs in-between.

Even though – especially when arriving via the main entrance – while walking through several Premium halls you definitely got an “airport feeling“, the long walk paid off when you entered SEEK. 

When the doors opened on the first day, the ICC was packed. Two years of not being able to meet face to face definitely left visitors with a desire not to miss this first edition of a hopefully new started run of successful fashion events in Berlin. Visitors gathered around the booths of brands such as Avirex (Founded in 1975 and adopted by Hiphop personalities in the 90s and early 2000s, the leather jacket brand is something that perfectly fits into today’s Y2K aesthetics. Great quality with great designs, something we will definitely see this fall and winter), Sergio Tacchini (Italian sportswear brand with a long history of great quality and pop cultural crossovers), sneaker brands such as Puma, Saucony, Kangaroos, Filling Pieces, outdoor brands and more traditional brands such as Pendleton and Redwing.

3Sixteen, Arte Antwerp and Double A by Wood Wood were also booths to not be missed.

The already mentioned Filling Pieces is a perfect example of what’s to be seen on fashionable people’s feet over the next seasons – Loafers. The trend of exchanging sneakers for hard bottoms was already starting around 2019/2020, but now it’s back with a vengeance. Even traditional shoe brand Sebago decided to add their loafers to their already well established range of boat shoes. Camper and Camper Lab also highlighted their loafer styles and many more footwear ideas.

Who also decided to show up? The late 90’s and early 2000’s. Perfectly represented by brands such as Pash, Juicy Couture, Champion, Homeboy, Ellesse, Kangol and even Bad+Mad.

Jeans brands like Edwin, Nudie and Pike Brothers kept the pants game in check and you could also get a glimpse of the history of German streetwear brands by checking out brands like Wemoto (The German streetwear O.G.s), Cordon Sport (The German street O.G.s) or Unfair Athletics, the Munich-based brand that merges streetwear with football and casual aesthetics.

The brand list was well balanced and no brands really fell through.

Another highlight that can’t go down unnamed is The Ground.

A short walk located from the SEEK, The Ground included an indoor and an outdoor area – both packed with entertainment directed more to young visitors who came for fun and not for business. Vice Media, TikTok and brands such as Karl Kani were present, with a second hand area ready for visitors to find their new favorite pieces.  Live music, panel talks, physical and mental health activations were present and we can really look forward to what the next The Ground Festival will offer us. 

Also present was Berlin-based sneaker store giant Overkill, who used the festival as a backdrop for a special release with Puma.

And whenever Overkill decides to host a party, the people will come.

So, what’s our conclusion after three days of fashion?

Do we still need to go out and meet at trade shows after two years of home office?

Didn’t we learn to work more efficient from home? Yes, we did.

But aren’t we glad to finally meet again all those people we missed? Yes, we are. 

Are trade shows still relevant after Covid? More than ever, after we witnessed a celebration of creativity in a size we have not seen it before.

We are excited for what’s to come and can give nothing but respect to the organizers. 

Welcome back!