Big names and top-quality visitors impressed exhibitors, despite a subdued turnout at the November edition of Texfusion and The London Print Design Fair (TLPDF).
The two adjacent events took place on 31 October to 1 November at the Business Design Centre in London’s Islington, taking over its largest-ever amount of space in the venue.
Although exhibitors at both events said there had been muted footfall across both days, there was consistent praise for the quality of visitors in attendance.
Exhibitors at Texfusion reported high street names including River Island, Dorothy Perkins, Next, Asos and Sainsbury’s writing orders at the show. Both events were praised for a more focused approach from visitors, which was credited in part to the show taking place relatively late in the season.
“This has not been as busy as some of the other shows that we have done, but we’ve seen very good people and we’ve got some good leads. There are no time-wasters at this show,” said Jessica Fell, sales manager at Cumbrian textile business Stead McAlpin, which was showing at Texfusion.
“It has not been that busy, but I am very happy with the people I have seen, the new contacts, new business and leads,” said Jessica Levy Antoni, designer at Matchy Matchy Design, showing at TLPDF. “The quality is much better than in seasons before.”
The event launched in 2015 and is steadily growing. The number of exhibitors across the two shows has almost doubled since the March 2018 edition. TLPDF hosted 50 exhibitors this season, 80% of which were British based. Texfusion featured 180 textile and garment manufacturers, up from 100 in March.
The uptick in exhibitor numbers comes in part due to new international partnerships. The Taiwan Textile Federation (TTF), arranged for 10 exhibitors to appear, including several specialists in technical fabrics – a sector that organiser John Kelley says is a speciality of the Taiwanese manufacturers.
There was also a strong Chinese delegation, and 50 new Chinese exhibitors at the show were brought through the Chinese Trade Organisation. The Synthetic and Rayon Textiles Export Promotion Council from India also brought a contingent of 27 exhibitors to the show.
In 2019, Kelley is aiming to further increase the number of Chinese mills on show. He also intends to bring in more South Korean names – as the area becomes a focus for good quality and good value textiles.
He added that the international approach has injected a new energy into the show as a whole: “It gives another dynamic to the fair. The show has morphed since it began, and we’re showing all these different ideas, which is exciting.”
This season’s edition of Texfusion was the second for the show’s dedicated new denim area, which launched at the March 2018 edition.
Despite this international feel, British guests dominated the visitors. Although Spanish people, Italians and Americans were spotted, the UK was the focus for those selling.
“This is mainly a UK show,” said Laura Gambarini, sales associate at MITI SpA, an Italian technical fabrics producer. “Texfusion is a really local show compared with the European shows.”
Despite the overall positivity at the show, times are still tough for the textiles sector, and several exhibitors expressed nervousness over continuing difficulties on the high street, and the knock-on impact for retailers.
“There is still a great deal of uncertainty in the market,” agreed Kelley. “As retailers are losing shops, people are buying differently. People shouldn’t be scared when retailers close shops. Everyone needs to adapt – there is a different style of doing business now.”