FASHION

Frankfurt Fashion Week wants to be a breath of fresh air for fashion weeks

With a new fashion week season ahead of us, we meet the organisation that wants to discuss the industry’s important questions, for a sustainable future.
By OLIVER DAHLE
August 06, 2021

It is widely known that fashion is a sector with many complex issues and one being the burning topic of sustainability. When discussing sustainability within fashion it covers many different aspects of the industry and fashion weeks are often one of them. Is it justified for a sector, infamous for being an environmental culprit, to produce huge events to present new collections? How many collections can a brand actually present each year? And does it exist, a better, more creative, way to present new collections than flying press and influencers all over the world to physical shows.

A player that wants to challenge the status quo and start discussing these questions, among others, is the newly established Frankfurt Fashion Week. Frankfurt Fashion Week is an umbrella organization established in an attempt to grasp the important questions and discuss the future of a turmoiled industry.

— Frankfurt Fashion Week is more than the sum of its parts and far more than just runway shows. It is a platform, which is developed on four pillars including trade shows, conferences, showcases and city events, bridged by the overarching quest for sustainability and digitisation. Besides the trade show portfolio, including Premium for advanced women’s and menswear; Seek for contemporary fashion; The Ground with a B2C aspect and focus on denim & lifestyle; Neonyt, the leading hub for sustainable fashion content as well as the conferences such as the “Frankfurt Fashion SDG Summit”, presented by Conscious Fashion Campaign in cooperation with the United Nations Office for Partnerships, “The New European Bauhaus – Werkstatt der Zukunft” organised by the Fashion Council Germany as well as “Fashionsustain” are a cornerstone of Frankfurt Fashion Week, explains Anita Tillmann, managing partner of Premium Group, and Detlef Braun, member of the executive board of Messe Frankfurt. The German duo has been working within fashion since the 90s.

Detlef Braun & Anita Tillmann.

— We also want to engage the city and the general public with showcases on-site and throughout the city, and the inclusion of the local community through hybrid business-to-consumer events executed by the newly founded Aaarea GmbH, an umbrella company of 11 local agencies, they add.

How did you come up with this new sort of concept of a fashion week, being more opinion-forming?

— We wanted to create something that has not been done before and also bring the fashion industries shakers and movers to one table to discuss the future of fashion at its core. Most importantly we wanted to make sure that discussions also lead to conclusions and execution and all participants depart with certain takeaways for themselves. We are all aware of climate change and we cannot pretend as if we are not part of the problem. The production is a huge problem for the environment. But we all love fashion and its people and we want to be part of the solution. There is a new generation asking for more responsibility. What we do in Frankfurt is creating a platform, where our industry can meet and can come together to create the future together. The timing is just right. Messe Frankfurt is a big player, when it comes to Texpertise, Techtextiles and Sustainability and Premium Group’s expertise in fashion is the cherry on the cake and together we are able to create a new generation of Fashion Weeks. 
Due to the pandemic, the first edition was organized digitally in July, this summer. Nevertheless, it was a great success. And invited was important decision-makers and key opinion leaders. Among these were politicians, fashion brands, as well as fashion organisations, educational institutions, textile- and tech companies and many others.

— The digital edition of Frankfurt Fashion Week has been a huge success: 25,000 visitors on five days from 60 countries attended the forward-looking fashion content of the FFW STUDIO with three conferences, over 60 panels and more than 72 hours of discussions, talks and presentations. It showed that the fashion and creative world is ready to take the necessary steps to successfully drive forward the transformation of the industry.

How has the process of creating the whole concept and putting it all together midst of the pandemic been? 

— Honestly, it has been intense. The ongoing uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 situation in Germany and the nationwide decision-making by the federal government forced us to concentrate on largely digital formats for the first Frankfurt Fashion Week. In addition to the pandemic regulations, the sense of responsibility towards all stakeholders was the crucial factor in this decision — after all, continuing to press ahead with the initial hybrid plans would shift the financial risk of organising a physical edition of Frankfurt Fashion Week onto the shoulders of the exhibitors, visitors and partners.

— For this purpose, together with our fabulous network of agencies and partners, FFW STUDIO has been launched in July as a central digital space that offers inspiration, while highlighting and discussing the topics of sustainability and digitisation at the highest level in corresponding formats. We wanted to create a kind of pre-season taster of our vision of a new Frankfurt Fashion Week, despite COVID and plan the physical elements of a Frankfurt Fashion Week — which we are all looking forward to so much — for January 2022, the duo concludes.

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