HONG KONG — Mounting economic woes kept buyers largely on the sidelines during the Interstoff Asia textile fair here.
Although innovative fabrics like Austrian fiber producer Lenzing’s Promodal blend and Texorganix’s spun bamboo bark and soybean protein fiber spurred interest, buyers were anxious about overcommitting on budget and volume. The 200 suppliers exhibiting at the show, meanwhile, were resigned to the market downturn. Most said they had been feeling the economic pinch since the beginning of the year and were bracing themselves for tougher times ahead.
About 6,200 visitors from 45 countries attended the show, which ended its three-day run on Oct. 10 at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Center.
Anil Chhaperia, a partner in Calcutta-based Vinayak International, which sells natural fabrics to European and American wholesalers, said compared with previous periods of economic turmoil he had experienced, the latest downturn would last longer and have deeper repercussions.
“Our wholesale clients no longer want to stock up on inventories,” Chhaperia said. “Everybody is just buying what they need and only when they have an order from a customer. In this business, we are used to an economic slowdown every three to four years, but recovery this time looks like it will take longer than the usual six to 12 months.”
Officials from show organizer Messe Frankfurt acknowledged the impact of the weakened global economy.
“Many European and American companies are cutting back on travel and accommodation costs,” said Amra Durakovic, Messe Frankfurt’s senior public relations officer. “Instead of coming to our fairs, they are sending their local distributors and representatives on their behalf. This has been a noticeable trend across all our fairs this year. It’s all about the economy right now.”
Caution has emerged as the buzzword among buyers who are facing increased scrutiny over their purchases.
“With the Australian dollar plummeting in the last week, we will have to recost everything and adjust our budget accordingly,” said John Holding, owner of Eco.D, a casual women’s wear brand in Melbourne, Australia. “There is certainly no way we can push up our prices to the consumer, so we will have to buy less and be very careful about what we buy.”
Uncertainty over when the U.S. economy might bottom out has hit brands like HTnaturals, with the lion’s share of the Vancouver-based eco-textiles clothing company’s sales coming from the U.S.
“Our customers are placing smaller orders even though they are telling us they will probably reorder,” said Jane Nemis, the company’s product director and designer. “People are really playing it safe. They would rather have less stock than be stuck with inventory.”
Yitzac Goldstein, director of development and production at Texorganix, is confident eco-friendly fabrics will retain their market niche despite buyers having to pay a premium of up to 50 percent.
“Eco-textiles are more resilient than some of the more fashion-oriented fabrics because there will always be consumers who want environmentally friendly clothing,” Goldstein said. “Consumers in this segment see eco-textiles as part of their lifestyle. We expect business to remain dynamic, but perhaps not as dynamic as in the last few years.”
Saral Kochar, a production manager at American Eagle Outfitters, was sourcing eco-textiles in preparation for the brand’s move into the environmentally friendly market. According to Kochar, the downturn was unlikely to suspend the effort, though expectations will have to be revised.
“The core customer base for eco-textile products makes this a stable market, but any pickup in demand will have to come later,” said Kochar.
For many buyers, the green movement has moved from the fiber level to putting the focus on the environmental impact of the entire processing cycle.
“The next push is on how the fabric has been processed and produced,” Nemis said. “We are looking closely at the finishing, the way the material has been dyed and the treatment of waste water to ensure the production cycle has not damaged the environment.”
“What he has done at Vuitton is really exceptional,” said @gameofthrones’ actress Gwendoline Christie on @mrkimjones’ final show for @louisvuitton. “He has rebooted luxury in terms of making it commercial, viable and contemporary. And most importantly artistic. He has never compromised his artistic vision for the sake of commodity.” (📷: @zefashioninsider)
After seeing a demand for men’s wear from its customers, British contemporary women’s wear label @ariesarise has added a men’s wear component and will launch a unisex collection with @mrporterlive. The 20-piece collection includes jackets, denim, logo T-shirts and more with deconstructed ‘90s vibes. Set to launch on January 18, you can shop the pieces on Aries’ website and on mrporter.com. #wwdfashion
“And so spending so much time with a character who thinks like that, inevitability you try and analyze yourself and go back and think about your own demons and dark chapters that you had in your life,” says @thedanielbruhl of his role in TNT’s “The Alienist.” The show, set in the Gilded Age of New York, also stars Dakota Fanning and Luke Evans. Head to WWD.com to read about how 39-year-old Brühl prepared for the role and why he thinks the show is so relevant to today #wwdeye ( 📷: @Eriktanner)
Now that Celine Dion’s collection has topped $10 million in sales, the pop superstar, fashion icon and newly-minted industry player is eyeing growth in Asia. Read the full report by @tiffanyap, link in bio. #wwdnews #celinedion
“My personal philosophy to beauty is paying attention to oneself. I love to be outdoors, lots of fresh air, trying to take care of yourself as best you can. I always notice that comes through,” says Felicity Jones, the global face of @shiseido-owned @cledepeaubeauteus, which launches today. Head to WWD.com to read more about the actress’ love for beauty and how she prepared for her new role in “The Basis of Sex,” playing the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg. #wwdbeauty (📷: @dandoperalski)
Among the familiar faces at @off____white’s show was a surprise figure: Japanese artist @takashipom, pictured here on Wednesday morning. Other show-goers included @jerrylorenzo, who spoke about his upcoming project: a @nike collaboration for back to school, with designs inspired by his childhood on the West Coast. Sitting in the front row were Future, Don Crawley, @miguel and more. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: Stephane Feugere)
According to @laurentsai, former “Terrace House: Aloha State” cast member, she didn’t know she was auditioning for the Japanese version of “Real World.” “I was telling a couple of my friends and someone’s like, ‘That sounds a lot like Terrace House.’ I was like, ’No it can’t be.’” Turns out, it was. But Tsai isn’t just a reality star — she’s an illustrator who has worked with Starbucks Japan and most recently, she’s dipping her toes into the fashion world. Head to WWD.com to read about her time on the show, modeling and her art. #wwdeye (📷: @danieldorsa)
More changes are coming to New York Fashion Week: Beginning with the spring 2019 collection, @alexanderwangny will move his New York show to June from September, adopting a biannual schedule with collections shown in June and December. Additionally, the @cfda is planning for an official summer/winter fashion season taking place as soon as June and December 2018. Read more about the upcoming changes on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @slovekinpics)