Thimo Schwenzfeier

Insights from
NEONYT Show Director
Thimo Schwenzfeier

CHANGE, FASHION, TOGETHER

NEONYT Show Director Thimo Schwenzfeier shares his vision on the Future of Fashion.

Neonyt is the global hub for fashion, sustainability and innovation, and a platform to drive the industry to change fashion together. Incorporated into the Berlin Fashion Week and with an international focus, it is the world’s leading event of its kind.

With progressive formats, forward-looking topics and numerous events, Neonyt is painting a new picture of fashion, sustainability and innovation that is game-changing, relevant and fascinating.

Thimo Schenzfeier, Show Director for Neonyt, in addition, manages the marketing and press department within the Textiles & Textile Technologies division of Messe Frankfurt. He shares with us his vision on the future of fashion, and how Neonyt plays an impobrtant role in today’s rapidly changing market.

What role does Neonyt play in the (sustainable) fashion industry?

“Changing fashion together through collaboration, communication and entrepreneurship.” This is our vision. Neonyt is the global hub for fashion, sustainability and innovation. Incorporated into the Berlin Fashion Week and with an international focus, it is the world’s leading event of its kind.

Our particular strength is that the global hub Neonyt also draws on the know-how of Messe Frankfurt’s international “Texpertise Network.” With over 50 events worldwide, around 22,000 exhibitors and over half a million visitors in the year 2018, the Texpertise Network provides inspiration for the entire textile supply chain.

In these times of ‘Fridays for the Future’ and society’s growing awareness of sustainability, many industry players are recognising the potential of sustainable fashion. Right from the very beginning, Neonyt has been dedicated to the major topics affecting the fashion industry – such as the use of resources, working conditions and pioneering technologies. Always with a focus on fashion. This season with ‘Air’ we are again setting the theme for Berlin Fashion Week, and showing what the future of fashion will look like.

Which brands can be found at Neonyt? Are they mostly brands founded on doing good, or do you also include brands that have (recently) made a change for good? What do you think are the main drivers of your exhibitors to present their brand at Neonyt?

The Neonyt Trade Show is the world’s leading trade fair for fashion, sustainable lifestyle and innovation as it showcases a wide range of fashion – from contemporary, casual and urbanwear, through denim, street and sportswear, down to business outfits. Along with ladies’, men’s and kidswear, the ranges also include performance wear, shoes, accessories and beauty products.

What all these companies have in common is that they focus on sustainable materials, resource-saving production methods, fair working conditions and short transport routes. Many labels have also incorporated novel and very exciting materials in their collections such as rose viscose, cork, apple or pineapple leather or sustainable performance fabrics.

Both exhibitors and visitors seem to understand that Neonyt is much more than just a fashion trade fair. An essential element of Neonyt is knowledge transfer, which we promote with the Fashionsustain conference and numerous additional discussion and information-related offers. For the first time, we have also set up a ‘production on demand’ micro-factory of over 100 square metres as well as a ‘Makers Lab’ with studio solutions.

How do you select your exhibitors? Which sustainability criteria do you apply?

– Progressive, forward-looking, sustainable and fashionable. This is how we would describe Neonyt exhibitors. In short, all the labels that are dedicated to the (future) issues facing the fashion industry, that portray a sustainable lifestyle and thus have a clear focus on fashion.

And as far as sustainability is concerned: for us, the term means being committed to social and environmental issues. Companies that exhibit with us must undergo a sustainability check. This involves completing an initial questionnaire that gives us information about the company’s philosophy, collections, production methods and materials used. This includes looking at environmental and social criteria, certificates that offer proof of precisely these things and transparency in the supply chain. A minimum of 70% of the materials in a collection must be manufactured according to these criteria – simply using a bit of organic cotton isn’t sufficient for us.

How can a brand best differentiate in the market, with more and more brands claiming sustainable practices? 

– Surveys show that although consumers prefer sustainable products, they still choose conventional products far too often in their actual purchasing decisions. First comes the style, then comes the rest. That means that, currently, sustainability is still a distinctive feature of a label or a collection. However, I think in the long term it will be a must, as the demand for sustainable products is constantly increasing. The labels who are able to combine attractive styles, innovative materials and sustainable production processes will become, or remain, successful.

However, we think that retail could have an impact on consumers’ decisions by making sustainable fashion an integral part of their product range. The easier it is to purchase sustainable fashion, the faster it will become a matter of course. That means: labels have to be able to bring their production quality and output to a level that retail can reliably work with.

In recent years, we have seen a strong rise of businesses developing models for a Circular Economy, including rental, sharing and second-life offerings. From a sustainability perspective, this is a great development. What does it mean for your business? Threat or opportunity?

– Fashion is about lifestyle, creativity, and self-expression. It not just about wearing something that keeps you warm. That means that there will always be certain dynamics in the market and a need for new things. We see labels that cleverly combine the idea to rent or to recycle clothes and on the other hand create new collections. Take the denim label Mud Jeans; at the last edition of Neonyt they were among the denim labels to present their latest collection. At the same time, they have been offering customers the opportunity to lease a pair of jeans since 2013. In addition, they take back worn jeans from their customers, recycle them and produce new ones. I think that, in the future, we will see more of these business models.  

Do you see a shift in the audience you attract to Neonyt?

– In general, Neonyt is all about community. The hub brings together various communities that represent different lifestyles and values. Despite them being so diverse, what they do have in common are their central points of reference: fashion, a forward-looking approach and an affinity to technology.

Neonyt regularly attracts important buyers and representatives from the retail sector. More than half of them are from Germany, the others come from Europe and the rest of the world. Among them are conventional specialist retailers, eco fair fashion stores, concept stores, online stores, department stores and fashion chains. We see a constant growth in visitor numbers coming from conventional stores. Visitors to Neonyt regularly include representatives from the international trade such as H&M, Galerie Lafayette and LVHM.

Neonyt drives the industry to change fashion together.

Neonyt January 2020

Starting with its autumn/winter 2020 edition, Neonyt will move to Hangar 4 of former Berlin airport Tempelhof, one of the hippest and most well-known locations in the city. The coolest trade fair with the most relevant topics at an extraordinary location.

This edition, will include new exhibitors such as Armedangels, Blutsgeschwister, Dawn Denim, Fisherman Out of Ireland, Funktionsschnitt, Got Bag, KnowledgeCotton Apparel, Leit & Held, Lemon Jelly, Melvin and Hamilton, Phyne, Wolfskin Tech Lab and Zerum. And countless exhibitors from previous editions will also be moving with Neonyt to Tempelhof, including Bleed, Ecoalf, Erdbär, Jan’n June, Kavat, Lanius, Lovjoi, LangerChen, Melawear, Mud Jeans, Nae Vegan Shoes, Nat-2, Recolution, Rhumaa, Skfk and Wunderwerk. Retailers will have no excuse not to visit Neonyt.

NEONYT takes place from January 14-16 2020 at Berlin Tempelhof. For more information and tickets visit: https://neonyt.messefrankfurt.com/