On stage with Carolina Issa (Tank Magazine), ‪Dirk Schoenberger‬ (Adidas), Matt Chlebek‬ (Boiler Room), and Marina Hoermanseder‬ (Designer). Photo: Noel Richter

Bread & Butter Preview Event

Last week I was invited by Zalando to speak on a panel about fashion, trends and digital with the goal of giving journalists and those in the know a preview of what they can expect from the new Bread & Butter Trade Show. Before I get to the panel itself, I have to give you a little backstory on why Zalando (an e-commerce platform) bought Bread & Butter (a trade show for the progressive, contemporary clothing culture).

Zalando started selling shoes online just like their American equivalent Zappos. As they moved to an online retailer of clothes they not only started to compete with at least a dozen other online retailers but more importantly, they put themselves directly in competition with Amazon. As Google is to search Amazon is to retail. No easy feat!

The good thing is Zalando understands technology. The bad thing is Amazon understands technology too so that doesn’t give them that much of a competitive advantage. But what Zalando has going for them is their relationship to the brands they offer. And that’s a huge advantage as relationships are the key to commerce especially when most brick-and-mortar retailers are floating on the digital stream without a paddle.

How might an online retailer with a heritage in selling shoes transform to a destination and influential force in fashion?

The other side of the relationship coin are the people buying the product (aka consumers). This is a bit trickier as it means that Zalando as a brand has to transform from an e-commerce platform to one that belongs to the fashion world; a world that is incredibly influential in our current world of share and share alike. This brings us back to the panel and why Zalando brought together the five of us on stage to discuss digital, trends, music, and social in the world of fashion.

For a brand (like Zalando) to be relevant today, they have to be active in the community. They have to understand the shared interests of those invested in said community. And more importantly, they have to understand the simple fact that, although we have so many opportunities and options to communicate with one another, the one thing that we all yearn for is a sense of belonging.

The preview was streamed on Facebook. You can view it here (panel starts at 13:30).

Further coverage of the event can be found here, here, here, and here. And if you enjoy photos you can find some here, here and some of my 360 shots here.

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