Bustling stands and a positive mood characterised this season’s London-based fabric fair Textile Forum, which is celebrating its 15th year in 2017.
More than 80 collections were on display at the show, which took place at One Marylebone in central London on 15-16 March.
Despite an uncertain climate, spirits were high at the show. Exhibitors praised it as being pleasantly busy, and had seen buyers from a mix of high-end designers, fabric shops and larger retailers, including Marks & Spencer.
“We’ve seen a lot of our regular customers, but it’s about 50:50 old and new,” said Sean Banbury, owner of Japanese fabric distributor Nunoya. “There’s a good quality of visitors here – people aren’t messing around.”
“We’ve mainly seen UK designers so far, and most people are feeling positive,” said Janette Trewartha, PA to the sales director at silk specialist James Hare. “Most people are looking beyond Brexit now I think.”
Despite a positive mood, several exhibitors reported subtle shifts in buyer behaviour.
“We’ve seen a real interest in ethics and sourcing at the show, which is an increasing trend,” said Jessica Arnold, client account executive at print company Forest Digital. “We’ve also seen a lot of UK buyers interested in sourcing and manufacturing in the UK. It’s on everyone’s mind now we’re leaving the European Union.”
“Our main offer has always been exclusivity, but we’ve seen it as a trend coming through, with a lot of other people starting to do it now,” commented Tina Harris, designer and sales for Bella Tela. “People expect bespoke now.”
Show organiser Linda Laderman said this was down to a need for increasingly differentiated products: “Designers want to make sure what they create won’t be available in the shop next door. Bigger-name designers and brands are looking for more differentiated collections. Everyone is upping their game to differentiate themselves.”