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Positive mood at London Textile Fair despite high street uncertainty

Economic uncertainty following Brexit and a struggling high street failed to dampen the mood at last week’s London Textile Fair.

London Textile Fair

London Textile Fair

The January 16 edition of the London Textile Fair

More than 400 exhibitors showcased their textiles, accessories, print designs and vintage garments at the event on July 13-14 at the Business Design Centre in Islington. Many praised the timing of the show, which took place earlier in the season than its Parisian counterpart, Première Vision.

“This is the biggest fair we’ve ever done and this year we’ve expanded into another part of the Business Design Centre,” said founder John Kelley. “People are talking about Brexit but the pound has bounced back, the markets have bounced back, so everyone is optimistic.” 

He added: “There are problems on the high street due to the weather but the feeling at the show was people will continue to buy European – they’re not going to start looking in China or Thailand.”

Lillian Cowell-MacKenzie, apparel sales manager at Lancaster-based fabric printer Standfast & Barrack, told Drapers its stand had been busy over both days of the event.

“It’s our second time here at the London Textile Fair,” she said. “It’s a good time in the season. We were busy over both days, although we did see more European buyers on the second day. A lot of our customers are at the more premium end of the market and we catch up with most of them here. We’re also seeing more people starting to manufacture in the UK again. UK manufactured still means something around the world.”

Stephanie Miller, sales executive at waxed cotton manufacturer British Millerain, said she had seen more senior buyers at the show.

“It’s been non-stop for us. This year, we’ve seen more accounts that will transpire into something. People have more specific enquiries about what they’re looking for and we’ve also seen more senior people. We’ve also seen fewer students this year.”

Georgia Kossifou, UK and European sales director at print and embroidery studio Whiston & Wright, agreed that buyers this year were more specific about what they were looking for.

“We’ve been coming here since the first ever show,” she said. “Sometimes you get buyers who are just looking but this year people are definitely buying and they seem to know what they want. I’m really gunning for this to become the new Première Vision. Why go to Paris when the venue here is great and you have central London at your fingertips?”

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