MIAMI BEACH — Attendees at last month’s Material World Miami trade show sought sourcing options beyond China while still waiting for signs of a recovery in global consumer confidence.
Continued global economic turmoil took a toll on the show, which ended its three-day run at the Miami Beach Convention Center April 23. The number of textile, technology and sourcing exhibitors fell to 268, compared with 400 during last year’s edition.
The show’s organizers declined to disclose attendance figures but acknowledged the difficulties facing both buyers and suppliers in the current environment.
“I’m not surprised by the size of the show,” said Kevin Burke, president and chief executive officer of the American Apparel & Footwear Association, which sponsors Material World. “It’s reflective of the economy, but I have definitely seen more suppliers at this show than I’ve ever seen here before, which means people are hungry to sell.”
Burke noted the apparel industry is often the first to be hit in a recession. “But there will come a time when unemployment will bottom out and companies will start putting their fingers out to see which way the wind blows,” said Burke. “Until then, [businesses] have to make sure their balance sheets are in order, make sure they’re saving their cash and keeping light inventories. If they’re not doing that, they’re not reading the tea leaves very well.”
Attendees expressed concern with production conditions in China and many were eager to look into alternative sourcing solutions, such as opening factories in Vietnam, Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka.
“There aren’t as many Chinese factories offshore as there used to be. They are moving inland, and eventually China will want to buy its own product. Vietnam is becoming a very strong alternative,” said Burke, adding Central America hasn’t been able to verticalize its business to position itself as a valid production option for domestic companies.
At Material World, textile trends ranged from sport performance knits with mesh and stretch, organic and eco-friendly cotton, hemp, seersucker and gingham, as well as romantic floral and geometric patterns.
The Technology Solutions area featured innovative products from providers such as Arigo, a sourcing and trade management company. The company launched a division at the show called Arigo Collective, a software product that offers enhanced visual content management and allows customers more control over documents and images such as sketches, artwork, logos, swatches and fabrics.
Donny Haskins, Arigo’s ceo, projected a 10 percent increase in sales for the year despite a weak economy, attributing potential growth to a more product-driven shift in company strategy and the urgency in nurturing existing clients.
“If we can get one or two strong prospects at Material World, then we’ve had a good show,” said Haskins.
Many exhibitors stressed the importance of product safety issues and compliance.
Susan Power, president of About Sources, a textile sourcing firm in New York, said the industry could expect greater emphasis on being more transparent in compliance issues and production over the next two or three years.
“You really, really have to do your research when dealing with fabrics. For example, lots of people out there say they’re organic, and they are not,” Power said in a seminar for small manufacturers that was held during the show.
Lawrence Serbin, president of organic supplier Hemp Traders, expressed concern over the future of the eco-friendly movement, noting he has recently moved into more home furnishings and mostly sells to upholstery companies. Serbin said producing hemp is especially challenging because of growth restrictions in countries other than China, Romania and Canada.
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
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