Conscious Brands conquer SEEK First Solo Show Without Premium



Last 16th and 17th of January 2024, SEEK held its first event without Premium. Around 200 brands, 50% eco-conscious and 50% streetwear, exhibited at the fashion fair. We had an exclusive interview with Marie-Luise Patzelt, Director of SEEK Exhibitions, to better understand the future of the event and other questions of interest.


To receive the Luxiders Newsletter, sign up here.



In an era marked by challenges for the German fashion scene, times are undoubtedly tough for fashion fairs. The industry and the nation's economy alike find themselves navigating through a less than favorable climate. Yet, amid this adversity and the notable absence of the influential Premium fair, Seek boldly inaugurated its showcase last Tuesday with an earnest, cohesive, and enthusiastic demeanor.

The initial day witnessed a promising influx of visitors, leaving exhibitors pleasantly surprised by the caliber of buyers visiting their stands. Regrettably, the optimism was short-lived, as the second day unfolded with a noticeable dearth of activity. The limited movement that did transpire was predominantly driven by students in search of creative inspiration.

Despite the uneven trajectory, Seek's resilience in maintaining an atmosphere of sincerity and unity throughout the event underscored the indomitable spirit within the German fashion community. The challenges may be formidable, but the commitment to fostering genuine connections and innovative expression remains unwavering. In a bid to unravel the intricacies of the future, we engaged in an exclusive interview with Marie-Luise Patzelt, director of the show.



Luxiders Magazine (LX)
Marie-Luise Patzelt (MLP)

LX: How is your impression on Seek's first day?
MLP: We see the trade fair as a big chance to show what we and our exhibitors can do. It is always such a nice reunion, because we have so many exhibitors who have been with us for more than 10 years, like Veja. Here people are working together. The motto is: "It is not working against each other; it is working together". The Conscious Club is also so successful, because the core of the Conscious Club is helping each other.


LX: How many percent of the show belongs to the Conscious Club and how many is SEEK at this moment? 
MLP: By now, almost 50% of the brands are conscious. The Conscious Club is Seek. In the past, the conscious brands wanted to be mixed, but the streetwear brands didn't. Veja is a pioneer when it comes to sustainability and they were not interested in being next to conscious brands, but now, since it's a fashionable topic, we thought it's important to bring them together. In preparation for the show, I've done some research on where all these brands come from, and I'm actually very proud that the German-speaking market is a pioneer when it comes to sustainability. 


LM: Is it a decision made to satisfy the buyers' visit?
MLP: Now the retailers are looking for it. In the past, it would put them off if we would brand it as “Conscious”. Now the retailers are asking for it and they see that there is a need. They want to keep up with it. 


LM: This is the first day of the first edition without a Premium. Can you give some feedback of the first day? Did you talk with retailers and exhibitors?

MLP: Yes, both. I have to say I'm very thankful for the exhibitors. They supported us when it came to inviting the buyers. They really did a good job. Also, I saw some retailers which I have not seen for a very long time actually. I think it was the first time I saw queues in the entrance after the pandemic. I think people were curious, which is always good to generate. What I always tell exhibitors and retailers is let's face it, we are selling and buying clothes, we have such a great job!


"Our job is to deal with beautiful things. If we all want to continue doing that, we need to step up. Sometimes it helps when you step outside of it and think, what am I actually doing? Then you appreciate it much more, and that is what I'm asking everyone to do." 



LM: Being the first day, I am really surprised in a positive way, mostly because I saw a lot of retailers, which is something that is not happening lately. Did you invest money in bringing retailers?

MLP: No money, just manpower!! The topic of this season was "Going back to the roots". I'm with the company for almost 13 years and, at the beginning, there was no production team, marketing, and PR team. Everyone did everything. And this time we went back to that, which was actually very helpful because the sales team, which usually just sold space to the exhibitors and had contact with them, started calling the retailers. So, it was more work, but it was very interesting and valuable. You know that all of a sudden, you are doing it all by yourself, including talking to the press and being more active on LinkedIn and Instagram. We are in the middle of the storm. We get the feedback from the retailers, the exhibitors and the press. I think it's quite a unique point in which we are in the industry. 


LM: Where do the retailers come from?

MLP: I heard a lot of French today, but I would say that the focus is definitely the German-speaking market. Also, it makes sense for the brands. If I go to a German trade show, I want to step into the German market. 


LM: What about the conscious stores? Did you make an extra effort to bring them here? 

LMP: Of course, we invited them and talked to them, but the thing is, the conscious stores are already doing a great research. They are the pioneers. They are at the forefront when it comes to knowledge. They know which brands there are. They know which ones they want. They are very informed. And, therefore, our job is to inform the uninformed. 


LM: How do you see the sustainable evolution of the fashion market in Germany? I have the sensation that everybody is crying a lot...

MLP: The German market is very tricky because Germany doesn't have this heritage and pride, like France or Italy. But, to be honest, we also don't have the support of the government as much as the Italian, the French and also the Danish Fashion Week or the trade shows there. We have the historic Munich, Düsseldorf, and Berlin. My biggest goal is that we all move closer, have more conversations, work together instead of against each other.


LM: Just to finish, what do you think about sustainability?
MPL: I think that the storytelling now has to go above. It's not enough anymore to be sustainable, you have to have another story. And that's what I really want to focus on in the future. I think the future is maybe creating smaller but more specific bubbles within the trade show so that it's clear what the story is when you see four, five, ten brands next to each other. I think that's very important because there's nothing crazy new that is blowing you away. 


LM: How could we imagine the next edition?
LMP: We need to wait until the orders are done. We can give the retailers a good time and be the platform to connect, but then what they do at the end with it is not in our hands anymore. We're having conversations with every brand and trying to figure it out. As I said, I think the storytelling is a key. We have the chance now to take everything apart and put it back together, and that's what I really want to do. I want to surprise people.


+ All Images: © Courtesy Seek

Belvis Soler
Luxiders Magazine