By  on February 16, 2010

PARIS — While the worst of the global economic slump might be past, lingering uncertainty made for mixed results for visitors and mills attending the Texworld trade fair.

Attendance at the show, which ran here Feb. 8 to 11, was up 2.2 percent to 14,038 visitors, compared with last year’s edition, according to the fair’s organizers. For this season, organizers condensed the layout into a single hall showcasing 642 exhibitors, giving the show roughly the same number of exhibitors as the February 2009 edition.

With the outlook for 2010 still cloudy, mills offered flexible pricing, buyers said. However, those seeking to place small orders still found themselves at a disadvantage to bulk buyers.

“Prices are negotiable,” said Haidar Bazzi, a buyer for Lebanese clothing manufacturer Clear Trim. “The mills will give you one set of prices, but when you squeeze them, they go down.”

Bazzi said his budget was back up by 30 to 40 percent after being trimmed 30 percent during the recession last year. Still, he was making every dollar count.

“We have lowered our margins to be competitive in the market,” he said.

That pragmatic outlook was echoed by Craig Jackson, design director at Berwin & Berwin, which also owns the Daniel Hechter, Paul Costelloe and Lambretta labels.

“The business is there, if you’re willing to adapt your price point,” he said.

Jackson said his budget for bulk cloth was up 10 percent this season as the group recently increased capacity by 20 percent at its plant in Longkou City, China. Berwin & Berwin produces private label collections for brands including Austin Reed, Ted Baker and John Lewis. However, Jackson lamented the absence of several European and Chinese mills.

“There are one or two interesting things, but there’s not enough tailoring to go around,” he said. “People are not spending money on showing.”

Buyers intending to combine visits to Texworld and rival show Première Vision found their plans scuppered last Wednesday, when the suburban railway line linking the show venues broke down, leaving scores of travelers stranded.

Beyond problems with logistics, mill executives said the growing number of textile shows being put on around the world could be negatively impacting visitor attendance and is placing greater financial burdens on mills.

Mubashir Shakoor, marketing executive at Pakistan-based Artistic Denim Mills, said the plethora of textile trade fairs worldwide was bad for business.

“We are not very satisfied this time. There are not many visitors,” he said. “Too many fairs are going on in the world. Maybe denim brands are more interested in door-to-door visits.”

Nonetheless, Shakoor said order levels were “very good” despite ADM having to hike its prices by 20 percent in response to a global cotton shortage.

Newcomer P.T. Mayer Indah Indonesia reported strong interest in its lace, embroidery and tulle, though no firm orders. Meanwhile, long-standing exhibitor Vrijesh Corp., which has clients such as Giorgio Armani Group and Marks & Spencer, said demand for fabrics was picking up from last year’s lows, while interest in its cashmere-feel linen scarves remained strong.

“We’re having quality visitors,” said Vrijesh co-owner Shruti Agarwal. “Demand is up by maybe 30 to 40 percent on fabrics and 35 to 40 percent on scarves.”

Buyers singled out basics like cotton and linen as the strongest products on offer, but some complained that despite an effort to spotlight eco-friendly fabrics, natural textiles were still hard to find.

“We found a lot of fabrics which are not sustainable,” said Emma Kopper, a student at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute, who was sourcing textiles for the Individuals by AMFI collection, sold in The Netherlands. “Most mills do a combination of stuff, so you can’t be sure that it’s all eco-friendly.”

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