Independence In dependence – Bizz Talk with Morten Gammelmark

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Five years ago, Morten Gammelmark established the COPENHAGEN SPECS tradeshow in his hometown. Now he’s taking the next step by premiering the concept in Berlin in autumn 2018. The Danish eyewear industry insider is on a mission – and his tradeshows are more about passion than profession. With COPENHAGEN SPECS IN BERLIN, he is creating a platform in one of Europe’s most vibrant design hubs for independent brands to connect with independent retailers. The emphasis is on “independent” an issue that’s dear to Morten’s heart. In our SPECTR interview on-site at the new venue in Berlin, he shares his thoughts on how retailers and brands can retain their freedom in our changing industry.

[/mk_fancy_title][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1538644111299{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]Morten, in early March you opened the doors to COPENHAGEN SPECS for the fifth time. How was the response so far?

I feel very proud every time I open the doors to COPENHAGEN SPECS and experience the support from both the labels and shops. It is great when new exhibitors contact me after the show to share how their sales have increased. That proves how COPENHAGEN SPECS has something important to offer to independent businesses and that is what drives me year after year. And I’m hoping for that same feedback in Berlin this October.

You always emphasize that independence is important to you. How do you define the term in general?

For me, “independent means that you are free to do exactly what you want without asking for permission.

In how far does this definition apply to brands?

Independent is when a brand is purely designer-driven and not mass-produced, licensed eyewear. This allows ultimate passion and creativity to lead the way.

And what about independent shops?

The same, really. They don’t have to ask for permission or report to any headquarters. They can buy the brands that they feel are best for their customers and not only choose from a certain assortment decided by the headquarters.

And would you still consider retailers to be, let’s say, five stores?

Yes, of course. If the shop can buy and decide their own brands and frames to carry in the store, it’s independent.

We also find the term independent used frequently in the eyewear business – for many people as an expression to separate the “good” from the “bad. Is it that easy?

Of course not. And I am not opposed to non-independent players in the industry, my passion just lies elsewhere. My passion lies in supporting the parts of the industry that continue to stay true to design over revenue.

What are the benefits offered by independent brands? Why should opticians spend a large part of their budget to buy products from independent brands?

End customers often come to independent opticians to find frames they can’t find at the supply chains. Designs that make them stand out from the crowd. That is exactly what independent opticians need – to stand out from the crowd.

And viewed from their perspective, why should indie brands support the independent shops?

Because this is where they will find enthusiasm for their designs as well as the environment that allows them to stay true to the passion that drives them.

How can these two sides get in touch?

One of the ways in which to join forces is to participate in COPENHAGEN SPECS, a trade show by and for the independent eyewear business. To secure visibility, eyewear designers and opticians need to work together and that is exactly what COPENHAGEN SPECS is all about.

You once said that the term independent is completely misleading. Please explain.

Because the independent eyewear industry is exactly the opposite of independent – you are all completely dependent on each other, whether you like it or not. There is so much potential in independent labels and shops making more of an effort to join forces and support each other. Especially in an increasingly competitive market where the large labels and retail chains have the advantage through strength in numbers. You cannot be independent without being dependent on each other.

But is COPENHAGEN SPECS really for independents only?

Absolutely not, everyone is welcome. But putting independents at center stage is what differentiates COPENHAGEN SPECS from other trade shows.

Aside from exhibition space, what does the show offer to exhibitors?

Networking opportunities, for instance at an exclusive party. Also, this year I have added inspirational talks at the Copenhagen show on subjects such as online marketing and fashion trends to further support the independent businesses in battling larger competitors. We also had the privilege to stage a premiere of the SPECTR movie “Facing North” that you produced exclusively with brands exhibiting at COPENHAGEN SPECS. Taking the show to Berlin has forced me to reconsider all the little details to make sure that I am introducing COPENHAGEN SPECS to a new market in the best possible way.

On that note, what was the reason behind expanding the concept to a second show in a new location?

When something is great, a desire to expand it to even more people quite naturally presents itself. I’ve considered it for a while and now I’m taking the leap. So far, the support has been overwhelming.

And what made you choose Berlin as a venue?

The location means everything when it comes to creating the very unique atmosphere that defines the COPENHAGEN SPECS DNA. Berlin and Copenhagen are quite alike in how there is room for everyone and everything. They are vibrant cities full of possibilities. Walking around Berlin, you get that sense of new developments ‘bubbling’ under the surface, just like COPENHAGEN SPECS is bubbling with innovative design every year. It is a perfect match.

Also, the focus of COPENHAGEN SPECS is international at heart. Berlin is a geographical center of Europe with the potential to become an international platform for innovative eyewear design.

What kind of visitors do you expect?

The show in Berlin is an international show and everyone from all over the world will be welcome.

It’s still a B2B show, right? Wouldn’t it be good to open the show for end customers as well? That may help brands in their B2C marketing.

I want the end customers to go to their local optician instead to buy their independent eyewear there. But I want all opticians to come and get inspired by the fantastic brands, so they can tell great stories to customers in their shops.

How was the feedback from brands about the Berlin show? Do you have the same partners as in Copenhagen?

Some exhibitors are the same, some are new. In preparing for COPENHAGEN SPECS in Berlin, it has taken quite an effort to convince the German eyewear market that the show is truly the place to be. Germany is a larger eyewear market than Scandinavia, also in terms of the selection of trade shows. And the smaller trade shows have really struggled with attracting visitors, hence the independent labels have lost faith in many trade shows. However, I am thankful for experiencing a growing faith in my promise that COPENHAGEN SPECS in Berlin will be different. We have proven the concept in Copenhagen again and again, so I am confident that I can deliver on those promises.

Thank you, Morten. We will see you in this same spot come autumn.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1538644135161{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]More info:[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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