Byline: Brenda Lloyd

ATLANTA — The equipment exhibitors with systems integration solutions packed them in at the Bobbin Show here.
Apparel manufacturers want to link manufacturing and design throughout their plants and offices, no matter where they’re located globally, and link up with their retail customers. And, they want open architecture systems, or systems that can be linked with any company’s hardware, whether it’s Gerber Garment Technology or Lectra or Eastman. Systems for automated custom measurements were other attention-getters, while embroidery equipment also was high on buyers’ lists, as were fabrics and sourcing opportunities. Sewing might have been, but few sewing equipment manufacturers showed up at this edition, reflecting a change in the Bobbin Show format as well as an evolving industry.
The four-day event, which ran through Sept. 26 at the Georgia World Congress Center here, had about 100 fewer exhibitors this year, down to 892, as major sewing equipment producers like Juki, Singer and Brother dropped out.
Next year sewing equipment producers will return when the Bobbin Show becomes Bobbin World, a new triennial international show, with an emphasis on technology. Bobbin World will run in a cycle to avoid conflict with similar international shows held every three years — the International Machinery Show in Germany and the Japanese International Apparel Machinery Show. The established Bobbin Show will continue as it was this year in the two in-between years.
The sewing equipment producers have been complaining for several years that there are too many shows. Also, their customers are moving sewing facilities offshore, and the cost of exhibiting is high, they say.
Their absence was clearly noticeable in the West Hall, where these companies would have exhibited. The hall was marked by wider aisles and empty spaces. Many buyers, expecting to see the latest developments in sewing, were disappointed. Said William (Bo) A. Willis, manager of Oxford Corporate Technical Services, Oxford Industries, “There’s no sewing equipment here this year, which makes the show less attractive.”
Attendance was down as well. As of Thursday’s close, the Bobbin Show counted about 22,000 participants, compared with 26,629 the same time last year.
Despite the drop in attendance, many exhibitors said that the show was worthwhile, and that the attendees were executives and decision makers, unlike past years when apparel companies sent larger groups that included non-decision makers.
Emanuel Weintraub, president, Emanuel Weintraub Associates, said “From our standpoint as a management consulting firm, we want the executives. And that’s true of everyone else today, especially as the industry has adopted a lean silhouette.”
Sourcing was another issue of major concern for apparel companies, who came to the Bobbin Show to meet with contractors and contracting associations. The International Sourcing area had representatives from several Caribbean and Latin American countries, including Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Jamaica.
The busiest exhibits at the show appeared to be Gerber Garment Technology (GGT) and Lectra, both offering full integration of systems and new technology, as well as Sunbrand, one of the few exhibitors to show up with sewing equipment.
GGT emphasized its new Silhouette 2000, which removes redundancy in pattern design. According to Peter Tredwin, vice president of sales and world marketing, the computer automatically makes all the necessary adjustment simultaneously when one aspect of a pattern is changed. He called it the “new generation PDS (pattern design system).”
In addition, GGT introduced WebPDM, which is a communication link between designers, pattern makers and stores.
Lectra’s main attraction was its new Modaris FitNet, a system for automating made-to-measure production. With this, a person’s measurements are taken manually in a store and automatically sent to the factory, where a pattern is adjusted to the measurements of that person. The system, which operates with Lectra’s Topspin single-ply cutter, is not in the U.S. but has been installed in a few operations in Europe, according to Daniel Harari, chairman and chief executive officer of Lectra Systemes. One such company is the Italian men’s suit maker Corneliani SpA, which was in the Lectra exhibit showing how the system works.

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