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The Kraft Sisters
Freitag, Nov. 26, 2010, 15:18 / Germany
Founded in 1990 by Petra and Baerbel Kraft, public images is widely regarded as one of Germany’s most prestigious all-round communication agencies. With an impressive international portfolio, their clients include Custo Barcelona (showing at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin next Thursday) and Canon. Today, we talk to one of the Kraft sisters, Petra, about how the German fashion industry has evolved and what we can expect from it in the years to come.
TribaSpace: How did you and your sister, Baerbel, come to join forces to work in the fashion industry?
Petra Kraf: We had both worked in the publishing industry before starting our own agency. We began to build up our fashion network early on since we were in very close contact with individuals involved in the lifestyle, events and music industries. We really enjoyed the challenge of switching to the other side and completely changing our career direction in the early 90s, by moving from editorial into PR and communications.
Tell us a little bit about your career background.
My sister Baerbel is a trained journalist and has worked as an editor on a daily newspaper. Following this she became PR manager for the Danish company Matinique. I began my career as the assistant to the CEO of a leading music publishing house and later worked as an editor on a music trade publication. Baerbel and I have always had similar daily responsibilities although we always worked for different companies.
What was the driving idea and the vision behind the new agency?
At that time in Germany there was a lack of understanding of what brand communication and PR agencies are supposed to do for their clients. That missing market niche was our chance to create a new vision and a new type of communication agency. Building service-oriented and bespoke strategies for the entire industry, whether designers, journalists or consumers. Having said that, we are still challenging ourselves every day, developing new communication strategies and incorporating these into our PR concepts.
How has the German and international fashion industry evolved throughout the last 20 years? What were your personal highlights?
The changes are so complex and revolutionary that I don’t even know where to start. Today’s fashion market is extremely fast in both operation and communication and has of course become global. Individual wholesale business has been taken over by a very connected vertical business model. The selling vehicles vary as do the players on the market: small boutiques vs. chain retailers, department stores vs mono-branding stores. The trade show landscape has completely changed too.
One of the most exciting developments is that both consumers and the industry have both become more responsible, environmentally-conscious and sustainably-driven. In the 90s the covers of major fashion magazines featured only top models. Today we see celebrities, socialites and ‘it-girls’ considered as style icons and setting trends. This has in turn influenced the buying behaviours, consumers have more choice and ultimately more fun. However, the Internet and e-commerce, in my view, are the strongest factors influencing the industry at the moment.
One of our major achievements as an agency was establishing a relationship with Burberry. When we began working on Burberry, Rose Marie Bravo and Mario Testino were not on board yet. At the time it was considered to be a conservative and rigid brand, defined almost exclusively by the trench coat. We very much enjoyed being part of the re-branding process and modernizing the classic Burberry check prints. Other highlights were the work we did for Kookai’s launch in the 90s and of course Custo Barcelona right from the beginning until today. The PR activities for a couple of our Scandinavian clients were an absolute pleasure too, we really appreciate their very distinguished signature and design aesthetic.
What are your plans for the future?
We are happily looking forward to continuing and completing our upcoming projects including the Custo Barcelona show in Berlin and later during 5New York Fashion Week](http://www.mbfashionweek.com/home). We’ll be supporting several of our clients at various trade shows in various locations and planning store openings. We also organise photography workshops for editors in Hamburg and Munich as part of the work we do for Navyboot and Canon. Above all, I just hope that we can continue in the same vein we have been for the past 20 years: going from strength-to-strength and being open to new things and experiences.
Natasha Binar | TribaSpace
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