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SHANGHAI — SpinExpo Shanghai has moved beyond its core to keep pace with an increasingly integrated industry.

This story first appeared in the April 1, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

More than 11,000 visitors attended the three-day fair that featured 192 exhibitors, an increase of 12 percent from this time last year.

It may have been the 23rd edition of the yarn and knitwear fair, but it was the first time it featured a pop-up “Cashmere Boutique” and also introduced a “Knitwear Pavilion” with jerseys and circular knits more prominently displayed than before. The focus on cashmere for spring 2015 was seen as a particularly innovative move, but it was one that made sense to SpinExpo founder and organizer Karine Van Tassel.

“We have been calling this edition ‘Breaking the Boundaries,’ which gives you an idea of what we are trying to do,” she said. “Why should cashmere be an autumn-winter fabric? If I want my show to grow, I can go about it several ways. I don’t want to grow by going down-market so I am obliged to add things, like circular knits, to help the show to grow.”

SpinExpo’s creative director, Sophie Steller, was responsible for the colorful and fashion-focused pop-ups and trends area. She believes the introduction of different materials and knitwear reflects the way people work in the modern world.

“It’s the whole one-stop shop for a collection, which makes more sense,” Steller said. “It’s the way we work now. No one really works just with yarn isolated from how things are knitted and put together. If we want to encourage the international buyers to come, it makes sense to give them more under the one roof.”

As China continues to move manufacturing higher end across the board, a result in part of losing ground in the mass-market sector to newer and cheaper manufacturers elsewhere in Asia, SpinExpo has also focused more on enticing quality buyers from Europe.

“We believe China has reached a level where it’s not going to grow [as dramatically] anymore,” Van Tassel said. “Manufacturers here have to target export in a more sophisticated way.”

This year, Van Tassel and her team honed in on more than 200 VIP buyers, many making the trip to Shanghai and experiencing SpinExpo for the first time.

“Now that they have seen it, I think they will keep coming back,” she said. “I’ve already talked to a lot of people who have told me they have met more people [than at previous shows] and are expecting to do more business.

“We have definitely seen more buyers,” said exhibitor Shawn Qiang from Jiangsu Guotai Huashang Industrial Co. “Every year we come here, for many years. This year, we have seen the demand for quality is higher, especially among foreign buyers. People are looking for fancier yarns. I think we will do good business this year.”

Canadian-based wholesaler Helen Fortomaris was one of the first-time visitors to SpinExpo and was equally positive about her experience.

“I’m looking for novelty yarns, mostly for spring,” Fortomaris said. “This is my first time here and it’s really interesting to see the variety. I think I will find what I am looking for here, or at least a place to start and then go from there.”

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