NEW YORK — Sourcing executives are facing a confluence of manufacturing and economic issues as they come together for New York Textile Week trade shows starting Monday.
Buyers and exhibitors planning their spring 2014 fabric and production strategies must take into account shifting trade winds, from higher wages and operating costs in China and labor strife in places such as Bangladesh and Pakistan to higher scrutiny of working conditions and safety procedures following tragic fires in those countries last year. Decision-makers will also be discussing the increasingly vital area of sustainability and gauging the renewed interest in Made in America, along with choosing the right fabrics and materials for their brands.
While economic uncertainties abound — U.S. political volatility, European recessionary trends and Chinese growing pains — show organizers at Texworld USA and Première Vision Preview said they are seeing robust interest in their latest editions, with broader global appeal among exhibitors and higher expected attendance.
Texworld USA, which runs next Monday to Wednesday at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, will host 236 companies from 16 countries, representing a 45 percent increase from last January’s event. Kristy Meade, group show director for textile events at Messe Frankfurt USA, which produces the show, said featured pavilions include Lenzing, Pakistan, Taiwan and Turkey. New to Texworld USA is the Mogilev Branch of Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, bringing three companies to the expo, and a Turkish pavilion organized by the Uludag Textile Exporters Association. This is also the first time Texworld USA welcomes a Taiwanese pavilion in January.
Meade noted that Lenzing’s pavilion and booths organized by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade have both seen an increase in exhibitor participation from the previous January edition.
Tricia Carey, USA merchandising manager for textiles at Lenzing, noted that the Lenzing pavilion has 26 exhibitors showcasing knits and wovens in Lenzing Modal and Tencel.
“These exhibitors are from seven different countries and offer a wide range of price points and fabrics,” Carey said. “I expect strong attendance at the show as buyers continue to seek a diversified sourcing portfolio for innovative fabrics.”
Lenzing will be showcasing Lenzing Modal color, which is dope dyed for lasting color with energy and water savings, she noted, adding that there are a variety of design effects that can be produced with Lenzing Modal color, including fabric overdyes for quick response. The fiber is produced with a carbon-neutral process using Lenzing’s Edelweiss technology that helps to reduce energy and water consumption throughout the processing stages.
The show will also include enhanced trends displays and presentations, and the Apparel Sourcing Pavilion, focused on the production supply chain for contract manufacturing, private label and original design manufacturing.
One of the highlights of Texworld has been the seminar series, now organized jointly by Lenzing and Messe Frankfurt, and this edition’s lineup promises to live up to expectations.
Highlights of the diverse seminar series include “Fiber Innovation — Where Sustainability Starts,” examining how fiber innovation can provide the base for more environmentally friendly products at the brand level. Speaking on the topic will be David Roberts, president of Tuscarora Yarns; David Sasso, vice president of sales at Buhler Quality Yarns Corp., and Claudia Mommer, project manager for apparel at Lenzing.
At the “Lingerie & Active — Just the Right Fabrics: Sleep & Sporty” seminar, experts in fiber and fabric formation will discuss how to select the right fibers, appropriate blends and perfect construction for these specialized markets. Leading the talk will be Brad Pedell, president of Bradlee Int’l Ltd.; Ria Stern, global marketing and brand director for Hyosung Holdings USA Inc., and Bart Kennedy, Lenzing’s marketing director for the Americas.
“Politics of Fashion: Impact of the Election on the Textile Industry” promises a topical examination of what to expect from U.S. trade and economic policy in the wake of the contentious election season and fiscal cliff debates. Kevin Burke, president and chief executive officer of the American Apparel & Footwear Association; Andy Jassin, managing member of Jassin Consulting Group, and Jeffrey Silberman, chairman for the Textile Development and Marketing Department at the Fashion Institute of Technology, will talk about issues of domestic commerce and international trade, and where common ground might be found between the political parties.
Among the areas likely to be discussed by this panel, and noted by Meade and Carey, is how real the revived interest in Made in America apparel and textile manufacturing is and what could or should be done to support it. One exhibitor that regularly had one of the busiest booths, Fessler USA, and whose owner, the Meck family, was a champion of Made in USA, will be noticeably absent from the show. The knitwear manufacturer shut down operations at year’s end, citing credit problems and slackening demand.
Some observers said Fessler had overextended its reach, while others said its location in rural Orwigsburg, Pa., worked against the company.
“Fessler has been a good partner for many years, providing a domestic alternative to retailers and brands,” Carey said. “I am saddened that Fessler has [been] unable to continue their unique vertical American business. However, I do not see this as indicative of USA manufacturing. There are many healthy and thriving USA garment manufacturers.”
Lenzing’s pavilion features about 20 percent U.S. knitters that use its fibers, a percentage of which is produced in its U.S. mill in Mobile, Ala.
Meade noted that attendees surveyed at last July’s Texworld show said they wanted to see more Made in America companies on the show floor. She said this is exemplified by one if the new exhibitors, Seams, the Columbia, S.C.-based nonprofit organization comprised of manufacturing and contract manufacturing companies in the sewn products industry with a mission of supporting the resurgent U.S. sewn products industry through educational programs and benefits packages that help control overhead expenses.
The numbers haven’t yet reflected the anecdotal interest in U.S. manufacturing as an alternative to imports that have become more risky and costly. In December, apparel employment fell by 400 to 145,800 jobs. But mills making apparel fabrics and yarns added 400 jobs to employ 119,900 last month and mills making home furnishings products added 800 jobs to employ 115,000. A recent report from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization said textile production in the U.S. registered a 0.7 percent gain in the second quarter.
Perhaps giving U.S. manufacturing a boost, last month Apple said it would invest $100 million in producing some of its Mac computers in the U.S., beyond the assembly work it already does in the country. This followed Lenovo’s news in October that it would begin making its Think-branded computers, including notebooks, desktops and some tablets, at a facility in Whitsett, N.C. The move will create 115 manufacturing jobs at the plant, the company said.
Designers and brands scouting for upscale fabric and trend direction for spring 2014 can head to the Metropolitan Pavilion & Altman Building next Tuesday and Wednesday, for Première Vision Preview New York and Indigo New York. The combined trade shows give U.S. buyers and designers an opportunity to preview the fabric and trimming collections of a record 237 exhibitors, a 13 percent increase over January 2012, ahead of the Première Vision show in Paris next month.
Première Vision Preview will feature 106 international exhibitors, 19 percent more than last year, coming from 15 countries, including Italy, France, Japan, the U.K. and Brazil, organizers noted. Among them will be 27 new exhibitors. Vital trend forecasts such as the Fabric Forum, Color Wall, Trend Tasting Seminar and Color Card will again provide a comprehensive overview of the spring 2014 trends.
With a growth of nearly 8 percent compared to January 2012, Indigo New York will present the work of 131 international and domestic textile design studios covering women’s, men’s, juniors, infants, lingerie, swimwear and accessories. This includes Brazilian firms 412Be, Musse and Caju, supported by the Brazilian Textile and Apparel Industry Association.
Promoting creativity and imagination over the course of seasonal collections has been the foundation of Première Vision’s approach since its start. For this reason, a new dedicated area will host the 2012 winning creations of Première Vision Group’s sponsorship of fashion competitions. Attendees will discover the winners of the PV Awards, Texprint, supported by Indigo Paris, and International Talent Support, supported by ModAmont.
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