There's nowhere to go but forward. On 16 and 17 January 2024, SEEK celebrated its "new beginning" in Berlin. And the organisers are more than happy with the result. Almost 5,000 trade visitors from various countries travelled to Station Berlin on Tuesday and Wednesday to see what the team, led by Show Director Marie-Luise Patzelt and Event & Creative Director Maren Wiebus, had come up with. In addition to a curated and market-relevant line-up with around 200 brands, including many international newcomers, sustainable brands, modern outerwear, high-quality heritage and streetwear brands, SEEK focused even more on collaboration and exchange. During the two days, the community also gained inspiration from valuable insights shared by experts in the realms of fashion, sustainability, business, and culture. The aim of the show was for everyone to work closer together, talk to each other, exchange ideas and discuss new solutions with joined forces.

The Conscious Club continues growing 

Despite the current challenging market situation, a positive vibe and willingness to collaborate was noticeable within the SEEK community. This became apparent not just through many meaningful discussions but also in the recent advancements within the sustainable fashion sector. The team is proud that almost 50 % of the SEEK brand portfolio belongs to the Conscious Club now, whose players not only discuss responsible business processes, but proactively put them into practice. Among others, Basic Apparel, Bread & Boxers, Cabaia, Veja, Dawn Denim, Flamingos Life, Isaora, Jan'n June, Kings of Indigo, Rita Row, Lefrik, Stapf, O My Bag and Thinking Mu were there. On Tuesday morning, SEEK's close partners from studio MM05 and launched their new Fashion Purpose Report and presented it to the industry. By possessing an extensive dataset on the present condition of sustainable fashion, the goal is to make transparency within value chains and product information readily accessible and comparable for both professionals and consumers. The associated "360 Sustainability Validation" tool is also used for the Conscious Club to check and compare brands with the goal to curate the highest possible quality. As part of the stage programme, speakers such as Penny Whitelaw (Good on You), Salah Said (Klarna), Magdalena Schaffrin (studio MM04), Patrick Bergmann (Famefact) and Zuzanna Krzątała (Vogue) discussed and highlighted, for instance, which opportunities and challenges should stakeholders should know about in terms of sustainability communication, how to promote better consumer decisions in a status quo characterised by greenwashing or which opportunities are opening up in the Polish market. 

“I really had a good show so far, and it was nice to see that people are committed and keep turning up in terms of visitors and footfall. Even though the focus is more on the DACH region, I had some good meetings with international clients from Turkey or China.” Patrik Ström, Sandqvist

“The vibe is good as always, I think people really appreciate SEEKs relaxed yet professional atmosphere, which makes it also unique. Still, the people who came were very focused and took their time to explore the product. We are really happy that we came again.” Noelia Fernandez Galiana, Lefrik

“We love what the SEEK team organised again. It is a good show with a well curated selection of brands. We had a very busy first day and many valuable conversations with German and international retailers from Greece, Switzerland or Japan.” Ashley Marc Hovelle, Oftt

New opportunities for retailers

This SEEK edition also showed how crucial it is for brands to tell their stories personally and face-to-face. Being able to experience the product with all senses is only possible offline. A good atmosphere makes it even better. The more niche SEEK format with a curated brand landscape enabled even more intimate dialogues and maximum visibility for the exhibitors. This allowed buyers to go on a relaxed, yet exciting discovery. The portfolio included streetwear brands, exciting heritage brands such as Hen's Teeth, Danner, Merz b. Schwanen, Viberg and Nudie Jeans, cool outerwear players such as Hestra, Pyrenex, Welter Shelter and Palladium as well as many newcomers, including Afoam Stories, A Good Company, Dale Of Norway, Good Wool Story, Heimat, Open Era, Pompeii, The Jogg Concept, Wax London and many more. Brands from the beauty segment also gave a peek on what’s coming, including brands such as Koho, Raer Scents, Washologi, Evy Technology and The Fox Tan. The newly launched alliance between the UNION Showroom and SEEK, which jointly presented their new project "THE JUNCTION", created some extra buzz. A selection of high-quality brands with an absolute focus on craftsmanship, origin and history was presented in the station's exclusive loft spaces. On top of this, topics tailored to the retail sector were passionately debated as part of the content programme. Speakers such as Valerie Vogel (Engelhorn), Yannik Dietrich (Breuninger), Sebastian Haufellner (Lodenfrey), Steffen Liese (JD Sports), Cheryll Mühlen (J'N'C), Carl Tillessen (Deutsches Mode Institut), Mimi Sewalski (Avocadostore), Sabine Rogg (Trendbüro), and others, discussed how brand spaces can be revitalised, what customers want for 2024, what success strategies are needed in times of disruption, how to build a loyal community and why leadership needs to be rethought. The series was moderated by retail expert Colin Marco Göbel-Thoma. 

"I really enjoyed SEEK. I found many new accessories brands and it was also great to meet existing customers such as Topologie again." Richard Grisel, Galeries Lafayettes Paris

"Thanks to the good organisation, I felt very well looked after in Berlin, as I did during the show. This warm hospitality really stands out. As a result, the dialogues within the SEEK community are also very open and cooperative." Rick Jan Dros, Baskèts Stores 

"What I particularly appreciate about SEEK is that you can also discover a lot of very cool, high-quality niche brands here. I didn't know many of them yet and am flying back to Paris with lots of new names and impressions." Benjamin Maechling, La Bon Marche

"As always, our visit to Seek was worthwhile. We were able to cultivate contacts, make new ones and place orders. The atmosphere was great despite the challenging times in our industry." Nadine Legler, Outfittery

“We had a very good show so far, we like the vibe and brand line-up. The traffic was quite high so far and we met some really cool buyers and received some very good feedback on our collection.” Paul Lelievre, Topologie

"Berlin is always a blast! We've been here for more than 10 years and have never regretted it. Many of our new brands such as Wax London, Service Works and Welter Shelter were very well received and we had some good discussions with new customers." Daniel Weger, Wunschnaht

A good (new) start 

2024 will not be an easy year for many players in the industry. The SEEK team is all the more pleased that numerous industry representatives have found their way to Station Berlin to approach change with a proactive, constructive and open mindset. A new generation of brands is gaining relevance and is aware that realism, honesty and adaptability must not only be discussed, but lived. 

"We started with the attitude "Let's get shit done" and I am delighted to have (re)met so many people with the same attitude. The SEEKers gave their all again in the days leading up to the event and activated their networks. And it was worth it. Our (but of course) first and foremost our brands' guests were informed, organised and interested. I am incredibly grateful to my team and so proud of their hands-on mentality. We let our actions speak for themselves. The community moved closer together, both internally and with exhibitors and buyers. We were able to strengthen our community once again. Growth is not our focus at the moment. Appreciation is our top priority." Marie-Luise Patzelt, Show Director SEEK