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Record numbers flock to London Textile Fair

The London Textile Fair welcomed 4,130 visitors across two days at the Business Design Centre in Islington, up from 3,300 last year, as the event goes from strength to strength.

The 360 exhibitors showcased spring 16 pre-collections and autumn 15 highlights to buyers from retailers such as River Island, Asos and Marks & Spencer to independent brands and emerging labels.

Claire Dobberson, creative designer from Buxton Pickles, which suppliers womenswear to high street retailers including Next, Whistles and Ted Baker, said: “We are in between seasons at the moment so I’m here to try and find extra for autumn 15. I’ve come with a shopping list and I can usually find what I want here.”

Carole Boyes-Weston, sales and design manager at womenswear supplier Amanda Marshall, was also looking to source fabrics for short orders and uses mainly Italian and Turkish companies. “There’s surprisingly still a lot of lurex still around and animal prints, which is not for us, but jacquards are big and there’s some excellent new laces with modern designs.”

“We mainly work with Turkish and Chinese mills and I’m looking for coating, tailoring and jacquards for spring 16, and nothing too lightweight,” said Nadine Al-Jandali, knitwear and woven designer for Great Plains. “I think spring 16 will be about textures and moving away from prints so we’ll be looking for clever fabrics that reinvent basics – the new plains.”

Lithuanian linen supplier Baltic Flax was showcasing a range of 100% linen and linen blend samples in natural colours and striped and checked designs. Sales manager Aurelija Voisiataité said there was good demand for linen as customers were looking for natural fibres. “Our prices are quite high but people are ready to pay for it because they like its natural attributes,” she explained.

Sam Boardman, managing director at Denholme Velvets, based in Bradford, said: “Velvet has been quite steady for the past few years, but there was a lot of buzz about it at the last edition of Première Vision in Paris [in September] so the signs are there that it’s going to be big.”

Mark Carman, sales manager at the Rochdale-based waxed cotton specialist British Millerain, said the company is benefitting from a renewed interest in British manufacturing and is working with the likes of Marks & Spencer on its Best of British range, as well as Burberry, Polo Ralph Lauren, Topman, Jack Wills and Henri Lloyd.

“We’re seeing a movement towards more technical products as a younger generation of buyers come through and want to know how waterproof and breathable a fabric is,” he said. “For spring 16 it is much more clean and crisp, from the more weathered look we’ve seen previously. The finish is shiny, with an almost plastic appearance.”

Luca Sampietro, owner of Italy-based Sampietro Group, said: “We supply high end producers and it is becoming more important to personalise and tailor-make fabrics for our customers in terms of both design and composition.” He was seeing interest in crepes, jacquards and prints on viscose, silk and cotton.

Derya Yarangümeli, owner of Yarangumeli Tekstil and board member of show organiser Itkib (Istanbul Textile and Raw Materials Exporters’ Association), explained that the UK is a big market for Turkish companies, with around 40 exhibiting at the show.

“Jacquards are strong and there are some good knits and chenilles,” he said. “Our lurex has been attracting some attention too.”

Richard Collins of London-based textile wholesalers Schwarzschild Ochs, which specialises in fancy fabrics with sequins, brocades and embroidery, said he was finding buyers were leaving it late to place autumn 15 orders as they were cautious following last year’s mild winter. He said there was still a lot of interest in sequins and there had been a good reaction to printed lace and printed organza with a burnout design.

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