Queues gathered at the Textile Forum as it got off to a bright start at One Marylebone in central London today.
The 28th edition of the show, which runs until March 10, attracted 20% more exhibitors than the last event in March 2015. Forty companies from the UK, Portugal, Japan, the US, France and Belgium showcased 85 collections, a year-on-year increase of 15%.
New exhibitors included Derbyshire-based lace manufacturer Cluny Lace Company, sustainable fabric brand Offset Warehouse, London embroiderers Hand & Lock and London-based clothing supplier Plus Samples.
“We like the size of the show as we won’t get lost and we’re pleased that it’s busy already,” said Plus Samples production consultant Victor Rosenberg. “We’re looking to meet new designers who need help with development, from creating the tech pack to sourcing fabrics and trimmings.”
The mood was positive on the Henry Bertrand stand, which had written four orders with new customers within two hours of the show opening. “Textile Forum is a good show to see smaller designers, while we see the bigger players at Première Vision and Munich Fabric Start,” explained UK sales director Jamie Morgan.
“We have started charging £1-£5 for our shade cards and samples to new customers as it costs us a lot to send them out, although we will refund them if they place an order. So far all the visitors have been prepared to pay.”
Leeds-based silk specialist James Hare noted a lot of interest for its white feather georgette and neon orange organza cloth embroidered with a retro floral. Fellow exhibitor Holland & Sherry launched its capsule womenswear collection for the first time in the UK, with a bouclé check in black and magenta or duck egg blue and orange catching attention.
Designers from opera and theatre companies, independent retailers, international designer brands and store groups were all in attendance, hailing from the UK, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Benelux and Israel, according to show founder Linda Laderman. “Pre-registrations encourage us that [visitor numbers] are at least at same level as last year, if not more.
“Around 50% are first time visitors, which is great as our exhibitors want us to deliver new contacts. We have worked hard on visitor acquisition and retention. We also see lots of business between exhibitors.”
Susannah Henley, seamstress and owner of womenswear brand Susannah Henley London, comes to Textile Forum to source fabrics and trims for bulk production of 50m and upwards. “I need to keep some good base fabrics in stock for my own collection and I always have a hit list of the people I want to see. I would say the show is definitely busier than last time.”
Freelance menswear designer James Howard, a first-time exhibitor, was on the lookout for fabric innovation. “I saw a really nice PVC which I loved as I’m looking to mix textures. The quality at the show is very good, but the only problem is the exhibitors aren’t very hands on when it comes to sampling. You have to wait and email for samples, while in the mean time you can source the fabric somewhere else.”
Textile Forum continues on Thursday.