Texworld USA made “virtual” a reality for its annual summer edition by connecting global textile industry players, together with its co-located show, Apparel Sourcing USA, on a new lauded and live digital platform. But the question of its continuance — online, that is — remains to be seen.
Its digital event that took place on July 21 to 23, which was originally scheduled to be held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, followed an identical format to its traditional show schedule: fabric and trend offerings, an educational lineup of panels and discussions — its Lenzing Seminar Series, Textile Talks and trend presentations for fall 2021 — and a bevy of industry resources through its Local Loft and Resource Row.
This year’s presentations were focused on shifting markets, sustainability initiatives, environmental and ethical impacts to re-strategizing and sourcing options amidst a pandemic, show organizers explained. And its virtual platform will be open for an additional 45 days after the show’s ending to allow for continuous networking, as well as access to the live educational sessions that were recorded.
Exhibitor participation spanned more than 16 countries, had 460-plus exhibitors and drew in more than 4,000 buyers, collectively, over the three-day period.
Jennifer Bacon, show director, Fashion and Apparel, Messe Frankfurt North America, said, “We are committed to supporting the textile sourcing community and were pleased that the virtual platform enhanced our ability to provide international suppliers with a means to reach the U.S. market successfully. The industry was searching for an alternative solution to reach global suppliers during these challenging times.”
Bacon added, “As evidenced by the tremendous support from high-quality independent designers, buyers and brands, Texworld USA and Apparel Sourcing USA are helping meet that need.”
Key buyers included Amazon; Adrianna Papell; Calvin Klein; Gap; Hollister; Levi Strauss & Co.; Macy’s; Michael Kors; Nordstrom; Revolve; Target; TJ Maxx; Tory Burch; Victoria Secret, and Walmart.
Its intuitive algorithmic platform was designed for virtual networking, which allowed attendees to connect with like-minded industry members and “meet” — or “skip” — interested parties with a simple click. Its AI-powered “matchmaking capabilities” provided attendees with recommended textile suppliers and created the opportunity to set up video meetings and chat to cultivate stronger business relationships, show organizers said.
Bacon told WWD, “Visitors to the site have been happy about the opportunity to connect with global suppliers. The site has been met with enthusiasm, with an easy-to-navigate system and a multitude of ways to discover manufacturers that fit their needs, as well as the AI-powered recommendations offered.”
Hector Fabio Gutierrez, Co&Tex SAS, Colombia, added that “We received around 170 inbound leads. We are exposing our company to the U.S., Canada and the Mexican market.”
Show organizers said Texworld USA and Apparel Sourcing USA combined cover nearly 40 different product categories, which were all represented on its virtual platform with more than 20,000 product listings.
But even with its success in digitizing the event, for now, the future remains unclear. “Ultimately, we will always believe in face-to-face interaction, but as technology has continued to impact our lives, we found it important to continue to innovate in order to meet the needs of the business. The onset of COVID-19 simply forced us to accelerate. In doing so, we are pleased that our first virtual edition was held in high regard by exhibitors and attendees alike,” Bacon told WWD.
“We are excited about continuing to innovate and have plans to incorporate a virtual portion into upcoming events, while maintaining our hope of the time when it will be safe for us to meet face-to-face once again,” Bacon added.
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