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London Textile Fair reaches record exhibitor numbers

The London Textile Fair reached capacity today with a record numbers of 370 exhibitors taking part in the show at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London.

The number of exhibitors at the fair, which runs from July 15-16, was up 20% year-on-year and 10% on the January edition.

The majority travelled from Italy, Portugal and Turkey, with 5% of the 370 companies on site hailing from the UK. These figures include 30 new exhibitors.

Despite hitting capacity, show founder John Kelley does not intend to move for the next edition in January 2016.

“We won’t be changing location as we’ve found a formula that works, so we will just have a waiting list for people who would like to take part,” he told Drapers.

“The show has started strongly and I think UK buyers are benefitting from a strong sterling to euro exchange rate and a move towards people looking to source fabric from Europe. China is not as cheap as it once was and people are happy to look at other options, especially if they are focusing on fast turnaround and speed to market. European mills are also famed for their creativity.”

Third time exhibitor Ian Cussons, sales director of Turkish mill Yunsa’s UK operation, attends the show to meet high street clients such as Reiss and Arcadia. “When we started showing at London Textile Fair three seasons ago I was less enthusiastic than my colleagues; I thought I would just be able to see those customers on their own premises or at Première Vision, but I was wrong.

“The show is great as we get to meet the main buyers here and have conversations with them early on in the season, as well as get a get sense of how things are progressing in the industry as a whole.”

Based on pre-registrations, organisers are expecting over 5,000 visitors mostly from the UK, with some participation from the rest of Europe. Buyers on site on the first day included Paul Smith, Topshop and Austin Reed.

“We buy for menswear and have appointments with specific mills like Fortex and Zanieri, but every time we come here we also like to see something new,” said Viyella and Austin Reed menswear buying manager Clotilde Blanc.

“We like The London Textile Fair as it’s so early on in the season, so we can get a heads up in terms of what will be the next big trend. We mainly like to buy from fabrics made in Europe, but not from Turkey, as the fabric needs to be more upmarket, so we focus on buying mainly British or Italian.”

The show continues tomorrow, July 16.

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