Exhibitors praised the positive atmosphere, strong calibre of visitors and focus on UK names at the latest edition of fashion fabrics trade show Textile Forum this week.
The show took place at One Marylebone in London on 13 and 14 March. Despite challenges in the fashion market and continuing unease concerning Brexit, the mood at the show was relatively buoyant.
Show founder Linda Laderman said there had been strong pre-registration figures for the event, although she did not give figures, and there was a buzz when Drapers arrived on the first day.
Some 45 exhibitors – manufacturers, textiles producers and trimmings businesses – showed at the event.
Several exhibitors noted that the smaller nature of the show – where textile mills offer lower minimums to buyers than at other shows – meant it was potentially benefiting from the uncertainties in the market, as buyers and designers felt the need for flexibility and adaptability from suppliers.
“People are realising the importance of independent designers and small brands,” Laderman told Drapers. “They don’t have the headaches of the larger retailers.”
“In this climate people don’t want to commit to large orders,” explained Mayur Tejura, director of Ringhart Fabrics London. “The market for younger and smaller designers here is good.”
Inevitably, Brexit was a hot topic of conversation, but exhibitors were stoic.
“Despite uncertainties, life goes on and business goes on,” said Tejura.
”There is a sense of unease because of Brexit, but the UK fashion industry is strong enough to overcome any challenge,” agreed Alessandro Musumeei, studio manager for production and sampling business, Plusamples.
“I hope Brexit could be good for us. For a while there was not much manufacturing in the UK, but that seems to be returning a little bit. The infrastructure is here – we have the designers and the entrepreneurship. Niche designers and producers are the thing that is going to succeed out of these challenges.”
While most exhibitors attended the show to target smaller businesses, visitors ranged from independent dressmakers, new brands and manufacturers to costume designers, luxury fashion houses and high street names including John Lewis and Asos. The Queen’s tailors, Hardy Amies, were also spotted browsing the stands.
The majority of buyers were London and UK based, although Turkish and Lithuanian visitors also made an appearance.
This year the show featured a dedicated manufacturer’s area, hosted in partnership with the UK Fashion and Textile Association (UKFT).
Exhibitors ranged from specialist lingerie manufacturers and denim producers to pattern cutters, and Laderman said the show was well positioned to become a “one-stop sourcing platform” for brands and designers.
Heavy embellishment on unusual fabrics, fine chiffons, florals and lace were popular trends and there was an increased emphasis on “bespoke” products.
“People need to keep things fresh,” explained Laderman. “Bog standard isn’t enough anymore.”