China Fairs in Transition Phase

Organizers look to upgrade their shows as China manufacturing changes.

The next China Sourcing Fair in Hong Kong runs Oct. 27 to 30.

BEIJING — Trade fairs in China and Hong Kong are refining and honing their offerings for this upcoming season, looking to further specialize and appeal to buyers looking for their expertise.

This story first appeared in the May 16, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Exhibition organizers in Hong Kong and China said they are expanding for the second half of this year and setting up new areas to showcase more specialized and targeted products. Vendors said they hope the creative marketing works better for them as China’s production industry seeks to become more competitive and sustainable, while also becoming leaner.


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The industry has never quite returned to its heyday of five to 10 years ago, before the financial crisis, but trade show executives and vendors are looking for a continued upswing in the next six months. China appears to be steadily moving slowly up the value chain, drawing more buyers back to the region as the financial situation stabilizes globally. In response, trade shows want to show off specialty items that will make their fairs more important.


“Lately we have been doing considerable work on new technologies in knitwear, such as seamless applications,” said Karine Van Tassel, founder and organizer of Spin Expo, set for Sept. 4 to 6 in Shanghai. “We are also focusing more on garments, finishing and characteristics inspired by sports. Last session we spearheaded a marketing laboratory where we explained the network of our trends from the concept to the research to the finished products and accessories, paying close attention to details. This was very well received.”

Still, not every fashion and apparel-related trade fair in China and Hong Kong is changing the business model that has worked well for them for season after season. Several said they are sticking to tried-and-true methods that have put sellers and buyers together for years.

Li Na, business manager for the 2012 China International Functional Fabrics and High-Performance Fibers Exhibition, also running Sept. 4 to 6 in Shanghai, said the fair depends on a solid reputation and word of mouth to bring in vendors and clients. Li did note that the industry never has quite rebounded from the 2008 global financial crisis and what’s happening now is more maintenance-level work.

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“The exhibition is mainly for fabric fiber, quite a professional show,” Li said. “We are doing fabric and fiber that’s more functional, like high-strength fiber products, antistatic cloth, body armor and high-class underwear.”

Elsewhere, in bigger shows, the Intertextile Pavilion at Shenzhen, running July 8 to 10, will expand its size and offerings significantly, according to a spokeswoman. She said the Messe Frankfurt-organized shows across China and Hong Kong this year are seeing encouraging growth and greater depth in content of products on offer.

“All of our textile trade fairs in Greater China have witnessed, on average, a 3 to 10 percent buyer attendance growth rate from previous editions, and we anticipate this year’s Intertextile Pavilion at Shenzhen to increase within the same range,” the spokeswoman said.


She noted some developments that prove southern China’s manufacturing base is far from dead, in spite of dramatic reductions in output and factory closures in recent years. China’s main manufacturing index has shown continual shrinking of the sector, but it appears the survivors are innovating and catering to customer demands.

“A prominent trend we noticed was the number of lace and embroidery suppliers participating, mainly from India and Taiwan,” she said. “This seems like a natural growth segment as ladies’ wear manufacturing is still predominate in southern China, therefore attracting a number of suppliers producing fabrics specifically for ladies’ wear garment manufacturers.”

Van Tassel also said targeting is key for Spin Expo.

“We witness a growing desire of our exhibitors to participate in the trend area, as what is on display gives the buyers a clear idea of what they can source at the show and gives them ideas on new stitches and how they [can] work the yarns into new developments for their collections,” she said.