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Bread & Butter by Zalando (B&&B) is a wrap for another year and what have we learned? After a packed three days of fashion shows, exclusive product releases and previews, stirring talks and keynotes, Michelin-starred street food, head-turning street style, and all rounded off by drop-the-mic parties and performances from artists and DJs on the cutting edge of contemporary culture, it’s safe to say Berlin and Europe has an appetite for what the industry-leading Festival of Style and Culture has to offer. And it has to be said that the weekend undoubtedly lived up to this years simple but what turned out to be thought-provoking motto: “BOLD.”

Bread & Butter by Zalando is a new kind of event, at least for Europe, in that it combined trade show elements with fashion presentations from leading brands, all mixed in with a music festival. And what’s most game-changing is that it’s open to everyone, not just individuals working in the fashion industry. There was the added bonus that many of the products showcased were actually available to buy straight away. A ton of B&&B exclusives were unveiled by brands like Nike, Eastpak and Reebok, others chose to debut new products there, such as Levi’s, Hugo and Converse with its One Star. Topman, G-Star, Selected Femme/Homme, and Viktor&Rolf, amongst others, held highly anticipated fashion shows. Meanwhile Vans and Karl Lagerfeld chose Bread & Butter by Zalando to preview their incredibly hyped collaboration together (this drops September 7, with select pieces available via Zalando.com; more details here). Zalando itself also released its HilfigerDenimxZalando exclusive collaboration and announced an upcoming partnership with respected streetwear and sneaker consortium Stadium Goods (where selected hyped silhouettes can be bought via Zalando.com; more details here).

Music-wise, hip hop living legend Wyclef Jean hosted a keynote talk on Friday covering immigration and culture and his own experiences, followed by one of his most exclusive performances in years on the banks of Berlin’s Spree. It was followed later that night by M.I.A. closing the main B&&B Stage, while the official B&&B afterparty was hosted by Indie fashion magazine and saw killer performances and sets from Ms Nina and $noochie Shy.

Saturday saw FKA twigs and cloud rap kid Yung Hurn top the bill before the Bold Ball shut it all the way down at the official afterparty, with the vogue ball soundtracked by NYC’s Byrell The Great and Berlin’s Lucy Liu Ninja. In a last minute announcement, creative man-of-the-moment Virgil Abloh took to the decks for one of his famous DJ sets on Sunday night, but not before fast-rising Berlin rap star RIN performed a burning set that proved why he’s on the way up. On the B&&B stage next door, Sunday saw Austrian fashion forward-indie pop band Bilderbuch close the festival.

Highsnobiety was there and on-the-ground across all three days, bringing you choice highlights of need-to-know moments. You can still watch our live streams, and Bread & Butter’s, to get the full experience. At its core tho, The Festival of Style and Culture is just that, so here’s five things we learned from the new agenda-setting event.

The ’90s may have already happened, but they’re not going away soon

The impact that ’90s style and cut continues to have on contemporary fashion was noticeable. From general aesthetic choices in colorways, to the actual garms and products on show, the decades influence was palpable. As we all know, Italian label FILA, the quintessential 90s sportswear brand, is enjoying a renaissance, while The Ragged Priest channeled simple colorways and grunge vibes for its collection too. I guess the continuing trend isn’t that surprising when considering that what we classify as streetwear was essentially born in the early ’90s.

You are what you wear, so make it your own

Customization was big at Bread & Butter and follows the growing general trend to product personalization and hyper-individualization. Of course, this immediately shows through patches and doodles. Obviously writing on your sneakers is nothing new, but in the ‘post-internet’ and meme-worthy age of fashion that we’re in, you don’t truly own something unless you can make it your own or demonstrate that you understand its significance and place. Then it becomes genuine. Nike, with their Zalando exclusive AF1s, together with FILA, Superga, Levi’s and Rains all offered professional customization service on site so you could make what you’d just purchased actually yours.

Being bold has never been more important (or in vogue)

Perhaps combining these two other trends was the frequency of bold slogans printed across garments. Brands from Hilfiger Denim to YOURTURN stenciled lettering front-and-center across their designs. But this was also reflected in the festival’s overall message and the substance in much of the parallel panel discussions and talks which ranged from ‘The Future is Female’ discussion presented by Nike, alongside keynotes from the outspoken activist and legendary fashion designer Vivienne Westwood.

Getting healthy and being fit has never been more accessible

While cutting edge fashion is now heavily informed by pieces and silhouettes with their roots in athletic wear, it doesn’t mean that the brands that influenced that are no longer interested in the very things that they were started for. PUMA and adidas are both still, fundamentally, sportswear brands. And this was reflected in their events. While PUMA focused on what to do with your energy, with its high-intensity-training sessions, adidas went for where you get your energy, hosting a nutrition and matcha bar. Kickz even set up their own mini-basketball court, complete with a spectator stand and a small exhibit showing the history of sneakers and the sport.

People want to actually experience a brand, not just buy it

People are ready to listen to what a brand is trying to say, and experience what a brand is all about. While the product exclusives and the customizations were cool, the moments when you could actually step into the atmosphere of the collection, product or the message from a brand were the ones that kept people there and engaged. Highlights on this front include YOURTURN’s pawn shop and Wrangler’s roller disco.

Next, read Highsnobiety‘s selection of exclusive drops from Bread & Butter 2017 available now at Zalando.com.

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