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The boys at Bread & Butter Joey Elgersma and Lee Stuart talk to us about Sport & Street, their carefully curated portfolio of major brands, artists, labels, streetwear and lifestyle trends, as well as their upcoming show. The highly anticipated Bread & Butter fashion trade show will be held this summer at the Airport Berlin-Tempelhof from July 4-6. Discussing the ethos behind the Sport & Street section, Elgersma and Stuart delve into the curation aspect of their job as well as their thoughts on the creativity within the fashion landscape and how it has changed over time.
Can you briefly describe “Sport & Street” and what niche does Sport & Street look to fill in the landscape of the Bread & Butter Berlin (BBB) trade show?
The term Sport & Street within Bread & Butter Berlin was launched in 2003 to create an area which could contrast performance & lifestyle and which would be dedicated to young influential cultures & future-oriented communities. Streetwear was still relatively concentrated those days, but we were all well-aware about the changes when shifting from subculture and connoisseur targets into a big commercial-minded industry of its own.
ANNO 2012, Sport & Street is a business-oriented platform with a strong commercial base, however, the essence of the old school family feeling remains. Tying new bonds each season by adding young brands, forming collaborations, specific media partnerships, parties and music festivals, community is still absolutely key for the area.
What is the criteria for curating brands for the Sport & Street section?
First impressions are important! We try and stay objective figuring out their current market status, their distribution channels, who their competitors are, who was there first, who is in and who is out. Here we select established brands with strong marketing budgets who are able to satisfy the progressive commercial side of streetwear.
How has the creativity within the street fashion landscape changed since the inception/creation of Sport & Street?
Creativity within Sport & Street depends on each brand’s approach, philosophy and beliefs. Many brands have developed many successful creative projects and outcomes. It’s a constant cycle of ups and downs, sometimes you get hard punches inside of the ring, and sometimes, you’re the king. Only the strong survive. Some stick to their “alternative” vision of streetwear and some join the stream of trends. However, the general language is directed to the masses, selling and finding your position in the market is what counts at the end.
Is D.O.C.K. then the answer to this progression?
The Sport & Street has always been a special area within Bread & Butter, yet also in a way too crowded for many grownup and contemporary streetwear labels. S&S platforms like the Boarding House, Playground and Desert Land were first steps to the greater definition and concentration of influencers and peak players. D.O.C.K. was a final touch, adding good business and good buyers to the middle of the hall and creating a center point for ultimate streetwear. Don’t get us wrong, we are just in our second season, so D.O.C.K. will continue to evolve.
Can you touch on the ethos behind the D.O.C.K. concept?
D.O.C.K. is a creative lab and a collaborative space, showing a powerful village of independent streetwear labels, designers and surprising curated projects by interesting collectives of the moment. It is the combination of powerful dogmas, tight bonds to music and subcultures, strong online presence, and paramount talents.
Where does inspiration come from for the physical build-out and environment of the Sport & Street section?
Mainly working and openly discussing the needs of the brands. Each season we try out a new thing, that’s part of our job. From the First Floor to Boarding House to the selected B&B Rooms to D.O.C.K. In general these are extensions that come out of brainstorms when we fine-tuned our seasonal themes such as Desert Land & House of Flora. Inspiration for this comes from traveling, like going to Burning Man, Lake Tahoe or to the jungle in Costa Rica. Daily rediscovering the magnificence of attention to detail, we wanted to create an interactive tower to show individual themes within a conglomerate of trends.
How does the approval process work for the D.O.C.K. section? What is the criteria?
Within the D.O.C.K. things have a far more personal approach. It’s a luxury container village on its own, where people who live there for three days scatter the message we want to spread. So the main question for us is if we like the brand and persons by heart, their collection, their story. The quality of both product and creative influence, originality, and if they are able to keep up the young fast time-frame we live in right now, are all important factors.
Have you faced any controversial situations in which you had to deny a brand for D.O.C.K. on the grounds that it was not “contemporary” enough?
No not at all. We approach the brands we want to have on board, so things don’t work in a standard selection process. But we are always honest, and of course, very strict.
How important is the environment that is provided to the success of a hosted brand’s performance and presentation at a trade show like BBB?
Portfolio and direct neighborhoods are key. Brands need their appropriate surrounding at BBB just like they need it in a store or in a person’s closet. We always strive to create open and friendly atmospheres, shuffling brand positions a million times before we are satisfied with the composition. This being said: every exhibiting brand should do their proper homework. BBB is a platform where people meet, greet and do potential business, yet it only works if you prepare and define your overall outcome. The customers have become very educated by now, they know what they want and besides, everything is quick and easy to find online. Meaning you need to be creative when it comes to inviting the right people, promoting where you are positioned, being interactive and very vocal. Otherwise you will be lost among the 600+ other players.
Given the growth and maturity process of streetwear, how hard has it become to differentiate strictly “street” brands to those that perhaps are more upscale or boutique oriented?
It’s a difficult process as it seems like many brands want to be something that they are not. Though we give our opinion, we are not the platform to judge or think in boxes. If somebody feels more comfortable in a different surrounding, we discuss a move to another area.
What are some of the trends in more technically geared “sport” garb that have trickled over to street fashion as of late? What do you predict is next?
Right now we are seeing technical elements that are vital in performance and outerwear find their way into the mainstream lifestyle market. For example: Cordura, GORE-TEX, lightweight materials and taped seams. The average Joe-blow still has to catch up on this, when that happens our crystal ball will tell us what’s next.
Are there any brands in particular that you are most impressed with at this current show?
Call it being politically correct, but we are proud of every brand inside Sport & Street + D.O.C.K. If you work six months on your show, you start having a personal relationship with all of your people and brands. We started this year with some curated projects. Veryrareparis by creative director from WAD magazine, Alex Sossah, who will bring a bunch of great young brands from Paris. Also Amazing Grace Ladoja will do the same with her project entitled LondontakeoverII. Both teams together with our good friends from Patta Soundsystem will also be musically involved in the Sport & Street festival, which will take place on July 5th and 6th at Festsaal Kreuzberg, with acts like Action Bronson, Danny Brown, A$AP Rocky and Joey Bada$$.