FRANKFURT – Frankfurt Fashion Week debuted as a conference-focused, digital-themed event in partnership with the conscious fashion campaign and the European Union’s new European Bauhaus initiative.
German industry was shaken to the core when some of the key players at Berlin Fashion Week last year announced their move to Frankfurt. While Berlin still flirts with a “poor but sexy” brand, Frankfurt is located in one of the country’s most prosperous regions and home to Germany’s financial industry and its largest airport.
As Berlin struggles to establish itself as a global fashion hub, the city of Frankfurt and the state of Hesse have pledged to invest 10 million euros in their fashion week over the next three years, hoping to turn it into an event with a global impact that could attract up to 140,000 visitors and bring between 300 and 400 million euros to the region in non-pandemic times.
“We have seen incredible openness and support from key players in Frankfurt. You may feel that this is a global and very progressive marketplace. It’s all about doing, ”said Anita Tillmann, managing partner of Premium Group, which started the move with Messe Frankfurt, one of the world’s largest trade fair organizers.
Frankfurt Fashion Week should not be compared to other formats. We are creating a clear new ecosystem with urgent questions about sustainability and digitalisation at the core of the conversation, ”she added.
But the organizers’ ambitions to create a starting point for sustainability in fashion were hampered by ongoing pandemic constraints. From 5 to 9 July, the first edition of Frankfurt Fashion Week under the slogan “Reform the Future” was centered around the digital FFW Studio with some physical events such as runways, showcases and receptions organized mainly by local participants. The fairs, anchored in the new format, had to be suspended and will in future be held in Frankfurt physically in January 2022.
“Due to the current restrictions, we primarily had to switch to digital. But many local players already participated proactively with events throughout the city – you can feel that there is a lot of energy and enthusiasm, “Detlef Braun, head of Messe Frankfurt, told Headline 4 Ever.
Over the course of three days, FFW Studio hosted three conferences with 60 panels and 150 high-profile speakers, as well as video presentations and streams from, for example, MCM and Cupra Music Labs.
Neonyt’s Fashionsustain conference brought together fashion entrepreneurs, researchers and activists to discuss technical innovations and government frameworks to make fashion more sustainable, but also presented local designers such as René Storck or Alexandra Svendsen.
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, inaugurated the new European Bauhaus Conference in partnership with the Fashion Council Germany, the first to address fashion within the European Union’s initiative to promote sustainable design transformation.
“Fast fashion is poison for our planet. It should be replaced by slow way that is circular. In other words: of well-designed products that create less waste and last longer, ”von der Leyen called in his speech, emphasizing that changes in the fashion industry are crucial to making Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.
In collaboration with the UN Office for Partnerships and the Conscious Fashion Campaign, FFW Studios presented the “Frankfurt Fashion SDG Summit” to evaluate the fashion industry’s commitment to combating climate change. The goals will also be traded here: In 2023, it will be a prerequisite for all participants in Frankfurt Fashion Week to adapt to the UN’s sustainable development goals. According to the organizers, the talks and panels reached 25,000 people from 60 countries over five days. Physical side events and catwalks throughout the city attracted public attention.
“We really hope that Frankfurt Fashion Week will establish itself as an international hub for sustainability in fashion,” said Andrea Sibylle Ebinger, CEO of Hess Natur, a German sustainable brand and retailer headquartered near Frankfurt, which staged a showcase in the city. “We still make mistakes, but in the end we have to subordinate all our actions to the pursuit of sustainability and be completely transparent about how and where things are done. When it comes to sustainability, we have achieved a great deal in Germany, and that is something we would like to share in Frankfurt, ”she added.
Going forward, Frankfurt Fashion Week will be based on four pillars, bridging the overall pursuit of sustainability. In addition to the exhibition portfolio, including exhibitions such as Premium for high-end mainstream fashion, Seek for streetwear, Neonyt for environmentally friendly fashion and new additions, the conferences with partners such as the UN’s sustainable development goals will remain a cornerstone of Frankfurt Fashion Week. Organizers also intend to engage the city and the public with both, on-site and throughout the city catwalks and community involvement through hybrid business-to-consumer events conducted by the newly formed Aaarea GmbH, an umbrella company of 11 local agencies.
Dirk Schönberger, global creative officer at MCM and introductory participant in Frankfurt Fashion Week, noted that the industry really needs a new burst of energy and that it is time to reconsider the concepts of trade fairs and fashion weeks. “This is a real opportunity to create new hybrids of digital and physical experiences and develop new forms of storytelling and interaction. It will be interesting to see a new Frankfurt Fashion Week strengthen the loop between fashion, music, art and business, bringing together commercial, premium and luxury players, customers and the city to exchange ideas and help inspire each other, ”he told Headline 4 Ever .
The need to rethink past behaviors and new ideas for the future is repeated by most participants in the first edition of Frankfurt Fashion Week. “The sudden shift to digital during the pandemic may have accelerated what many companies were already planning, and it is likely that trade fairs will not be the same in the future, as our ways of communicating in business have changed and the industry has adapted surprisingly well. , ”A spokesman for Isko told Headline 4 Ever, noting the importance of a hybrid format that combines the benefits of a physical presence with the capabilities of the digital.
“FFW Studio was our response to the current situation, and we have learned a lot from it. The future of trade fairs and fashion weeks is hybrid, and we bring decision makers and shakers together. We invite everyone to be a part of the conversation and help shape the future, ”said Tillmann.