The German e-commerce platform took over the Bread and Butter tradeshow in 2015 after the show’s founders applied for bankruptcy in the previous year. Zalando relaunched the fair in 2016 and opened it up to the public as a weekend event.
Their aim was to “democratize fashion” by creating space in the trade show for pop-up stands from brands sold on the Zalando platform. An exhibit hosted by Vivienne Westwood and performances by music acts like A$AP Rocky, helped to boost the fair’s international appeal.
By 2018, the Bread and Butter had a record 35,000 visitors and was completely sold out for all three days of the event. It featured appearances from brands like MAC Cosmetics, Nike, Vans and Adidas.
However, Schneider and the rest of the leadership at Zalando have decided to pull the plug on the event, at least for 2019. Schneider told Handelsblatt the cancellation had to do with concerns over scalability and the value of the festival within the retailer’s overall strategy.
“First of all, we have realized an extraordinary concept for three years, which has brought us a lot of experience and success,” Schneider told Handelsblatt. “Everything we invest and try has to be strategic as a company and at the same time scalable. With Bread and Butter, we simply reached natural limits.”
Schneider said it was too early to talk about a 2020 revival for the trade show, but confirmed that Zalando would retain trademark rights for Bread and Butter, going forward. He also floated the idea of potentially reworking the “pop-up festival” design of Bread and Butter for international audiences, saying it might be possible to work with “a single brand in selected cities” for future events.
Schneider acknowledged that Zalando would likely have to lay off roughly 20 people after shuttering the festival, but also said the company would look into rehiring Bread and Butter workers that wished to remain with the retailer.
According to Schneider, it’s doubtful that any fashion show would be able to compete with “established fashion metropolises” without developing a distinct style and appeal, despite the success of Bread and Butter in 2018.
When asked whether Zalando’s choice to discontinue the festival had anything to do with the retailer posting its second profit warning in as many quarters, Schneider dismissed the assumption. He told Handelsblatt “one has nothing to do with the other,” and that the move has little to do with short-term finances.
Zalando’s stocks have dropped steadily throughout the year, falling from a 52-week high of $30.41 in January to a low of $15.25 on Nov. 20, a fall of just over 50 percent for the year-to-date. At publication time, Zalando stock has risen slightly to $16.68, after closing at $16.14 on Tuesday.