By  on July 1, 2008

As textile shows struggle and fall by the wayside in New York, fair organizers are turning their sights to the West Coast.

The Los Angeles International Textile Show will be joined next year by two new shows that have announced their intention to set up shop there. In May, Atlanta-based Urban Expositions said it will pull up stakes on its Material World New York show and head to L.A. to launch Material World West. Also in May, Dallas-based Market Center Management Co. said it will introduce GlobalTex, a biannual international textile show that has garnered the endorsement of the Textile Association of Los Angeles.

The first Material World West show will take place Sept. 30 to Oct. 2, 2009, at the Los Angeles Convention Center. GlobalTex will kick off April 28 to 30 at the same location.

Trade show organizers said their interest in a West Coast show has existed for several years. The strength of California's manufacturing community and Los Angeles' proximity to Asia seem a natural fit for international textile shows, they said. Most acknowledged the sudden influx of shows is likely overdue. Several calls for response about the new shows to the Los Angeles International Textile show were not returned.

"I do think the strength of Los Angeles within the apparel industry, which includes textiles, has gotten stronger," said Cindy Morris, chief operating officer of Market Center Management. "More and more higher quality products are being produced in Asia. When you look at U.S. consumption levels of those products, it makes it a good time to launch an event of this magnitude."

Tim von Gal, president of Material World, also pointed to Los Angeles' manufacturing prowess and its position as the gateway to Asia as factors driving new shows.

"It's really the combination of what's happening domestically out there and the international reach that Los Angeles offers that makes it so attractive," said von Gal.

Given the conditions facing organizers of textile shows in New York, it's natural that others are looking elsewhere. Rising costs, a weak dollar and a poor economic environment have put considerable pressures on textile manufacturers around the globe, and difficulties have been mounting for trade show organizers on the East Coast.New York's textile week, which is slated to begin July 16 and has traditionally provided the domestic apparel industry its best opportunity to find suppliers without flying overseas, has seen a steady erosion of exhibitors and buyers. One casualty has been the Turkish Fashion Fabric Exhibition, launched by the Istanbul Textile & Apparel Exporters' Associations, also known as ITKIB, in 2002. Attendance among both exhibitors and buyers fell in recent years as Turkish mills grappled with rising costs and poor exchange rates, and over the last several years some mills opted to move to the higher-profile Première Vision Preview or Texworld USA shows.

ITKIB has since confirmed the New York show will no longer take place, nor will its show in Milan. Instead, ITKIB has decided to join with the Los Angeles International Textile Show.

Prefab: The Supima Premium Fabric Show is making significant changes for its fourth edition that organizers hope will better suit buyers' schedules. The show will move to a one-day format, occurring July 15 at Gotham Hall in Manhattan, and will dispense with the traditional trade show model of mills setting up booths to exhibit their products. Instead, Supima has obtained fabrics from 25 to 30 mills and will handle displaying them and taking sample orders from buyers.

Organizers from Première Vision Preview and Texworld USA haven't been able to grow their shows from past seasons as a result of the economic environment, but are confident attendance levels are still on the rise. Stephanie Everett, group show manager for Messe Frankfurt Inc., which produces Texworld USA, said she has seen "a little pullback" from mills. According to Everett, the number of mills exhibiting at the show has decreased slightly. An estimated 185 mills representing 15 countries, primarily from Asia, are scheduled to exhibit.

Morris noted that shows like Texworld USA and Première Vision Preview are smaller versions of their European counterparts. MCMC's goal with GlobalTex is to build a U.S. show of the same magnitude as the Paris versions of Texworld and Première Vision. Morris believes the show's association with the Textile Association of Los Angeles, along with being housed at the Los Angeles Convention Center, will differentiate it from competing shows in the area.

"It's a new show, but I think with TALA's endorsement we already have a built-in community of industry leaders in L.A.," said Morris.Market Center Management plans to take advantage of the additional space to provide buyers with expanded trend areas and exhibits.

"We have the space to grow a show and create a different environment from where [buyers] had been in the past," she said.

At the heart of the matter is a belief that the apparel industry has shifted to the West Coast and the suggestion that the world may be increasingly turning its eye there for the latest trends.

"We have to look for opportunities to benefit our customer base and they need to be in places where they'll have the best opportunity to sell their services and products," said von Gal. "We feel Los Angeles is a great place that can present a different set of opportunities to our customers."

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