SHANGHAI — China’s textile producers have mostly resigned themselves to lowered expectations, but some exhibitors at the Intertextile Shanghai Apparel Fabrics Fair said they were seeing glimmers of economic rallies in the U.S. and at home.
“The fair is better than last year, the economy and exports are all better,” said Zhao Xuefu, trading manager of Shaoxing Hengyuan Textiles, which manufactures 85 percent for export and sells 30 percent of its output to the U.S. “The U.S. economy is better, so exports are better. People’s spirits are also better.”
Gao Yi’en, president of Hangzhou’s Fulida Group, said, “The economy has some impact, but nothing overwhelming. After all, everyone needs clothing, so the fallout is minimal.”
The fair, which ran Oct. 20 to 23 at the Shanghai New International Expo Center, maintained last year’s scale, spread out over 10 halls of exhibition space and featuring more than 2,400 exhibitors from 21 countries and regions. Attendance increased about 8 percent from 2008, drawing some 53,000 visitors.
Public interest in the fair was intense, with visitors facing a gauntlet of scalpers selling badges and milling crowds attempting to get in. Nonindustry visitors were better screened, to the approbation of exhibitors, with 600 people turned away one day, said Liu Yanwei, deputy general manager of the information department of China’s governmental Sub-Council of the Textile Industry, which cosponsored the fair.
“This year we have seen a lot of people coming and of better quality than last year,” Liu said.
He added that service consistency and transit remain issues for the massive event, as do international language and culture barriers.
“For foreign buyers, after the fair, we want to get them to go to domestic factories and understand the conditions, the design, the environment in China,” Liu said.
He stressed the fair’s importance for China’s textile sector.
“It’s not just about trade, it’s about getting the industry together,” Liu said. “This year, the international economy is particularly impacting China. The international price pressure is tighter. The domestic price point is up, just as international prices are down. For North America and Europe, price is more and more sensitive.”
While few North American textile producers participate in Intertextile, most of the Chinese firms identify Canada and the U.S. as their primary markets despite the economic downturn and ongoing Sino-American trade tensions and disagreements over currency valuation.
“Most of it has to do with that the U.S. textile industry is small and mostly high-end,” Liu said. “China is doing clothing and cloth mostly for daily use. So in fact, the two are complementary. China has this production ability, and the quality is getting better and better, while remaining cheap. For both countries’ people, this is great: Americans get cheap clothes, and Chinese get jobs and a rising standard of living. Trade protection is something everyone hopes won’t be pursued, for whatever reason, as everyone gets hurt.”
However, prices more than politics worried most Chinese exhibitors at Intertextile.
“The trade policy doesn’t have much impact on fabric, but maybe more on apparel,” said Shaoxing Hengyuan’s Zhao Xuefu. “The issue is global price competition. Because China is developing, it is becoming more expensive. People show a lot of interest in new stuff, but otherwise it is price driven.”
Daniele Furlan, chief executive officer of High Fashion Advance Textile, a Hangzhou-based silk and apparel producer that is one of the biggest Chinese participants at Intertextile, said, “We get a lot of requests and people are looking for a certain price. They are very much more price-conscious.”
He added the timing of the fair means most buyers come to source for as cheaply as possible.
“Silk in particular has lost a lot of market share, especially in the U.S., where people are moving from silk to polyester,” Furlan said. “Therefore, we’re changing our prices and blending silk with other fibers. But we’re still losing market share. In Europe, silk is stable, but buyers prefer low weights to spend less. Generally, the worldwide silk demand is decreasing. The U.S. is still our main market, but going down proportionally. The market is changing, so we need to face reality, which means making more proposals, getting less orders and short timing.”
Exhibitors said innovative techniques, technologies and products were key to adapting to the times. Zhang Baocai, general manager of Ningbo E.Moon Textile & Clothing, ended a litany of woes — the China market pinch, the currency revaluation, Australian wool protectionism — with that focus.
“Apparel performance has been not great across the board,” Zhang said. “We rely on opening new markets, and on new products. In this climate, we have to focus on R&D [research and development]. Without new products, there is no way to develop.”
In the last several years, Intertextile has sought to push product development through a special textile design section. However, it has remained small and exhibitors in it have remained ambivalent, suggesting that textile design presents a hard sell in China.
“It’s a long road,” said British designer Melissa Wright, participating in the fair for the first time. “People here don’t get what we do and don’t want to pay for it. China is the land of copying. We’ve gotten loads of interest, but then people ask the price and they cough. It is taking a while to kick off, not surprisingly.”
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye