Bread & Butter Attendees Look for Bright Spot

BARCELONA, Spain — Last week’s Bread & Butter show once again attracted an eclectic mix of international retailers searching for fashion-forward product to entice consumers in a down economy.

Sybille Steindl, a buyer from No Way in Zurich — which operates six multibrand stores in Switzerland and sells See by Chloé, Michael Kors and Frye, among other brands — said she was benefiting from the Swiss franc’s strength against the euro. Steindl is prepping for the opening of the company’s first dedicated women’s shoe shop in Zurich in March. “Business is slower than before, and I know now isn’t a good time to open a store, but I’m positive,” she said.

Jun Ohzuru of L.A.-based Spoon International came to Barcelona to find labels to distribute in Japan. “I’m on the lookout for new shoe brands, particularly inexpensive sneakers made in Spain or Portugal,” he said, adding that it was a good time for Japanese consumers to buy European product because of the strength of the yen against the euro. Currency aside, however, business is down in Japan as in the rest of the world, he acknowledged.

For their part, vendors were upbeat about the mix of retailers they were seeing at the show.

“We thought it wouldn’t be as busy as this and that we’d have the playing cards out,” said Paloma Perez, owner of London-based agency 1927, which unveiled the fall ’09 See by Chloé collection.

Chie Mihara, the designer behind her eponymous shoe line, also was upbeat about the retail showing.

“We thought we would see fewer customers, but we’ve already seen customers from Canada, Italy, Germany and France, so we’re feeling pretty optimistic,” she said.

While the turnout was generally strong, most attendees continued to lament the state of global retail. “Business is catastrophic everywhere,” said Coclico sales manager Miguel Martin, who added that he was trying Bread & Butter because it had a reputation for being a good place to make new contacts.

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