If you are starting a sustainable and ethical fashion brand, then you need to be familiar with fabric trade shows - or the trade show circuit as many of us industry pros call it. So, what exactly is a trade show? And, how important is going to textile trade shows for your startup fashion business?
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To get started, a trade show is basically an exhibition for businesses that are all in the same industry.
Literally, almost every industry has its own set of trade shows. But, as a sustainable fashion startup, there are two types of shows you need to focus on - they are sourcing shows and apparel shows. For this post, I am only going to focus on sourcing trade shows. But, don't worry, I will be posting another list of apparel and fashion trade shows very soon.
And, because here at virtue + vice, we are a very international group, I have included shows from all over the world, not just the USA.
Why Are Trade Shows So Important To Your Small Business?
They Bring International Supply Chain Partners To One Easy To Navigate Location.
Trade shows are known for bringing together some of the best supply chain partners in the world. That is because not just anyone can exhibit in a trade show. Exhibitors not only need to pay a fee to participate (which is often over tens of thousands of dollars), but they also need to apply and be approved.
The companies that run textile trade shows are a business, and to stay in business they want you, their customer to be happy. And, that means having reliable, and trustworthy exhibitors participate.
The nice thing about textile trade shows (that the black hole of google can’t do) is that they pre-vet suppliers for you. You know that the people there are serious about long-term business growth (read, not looking to make a quick buck) and are definitely looking for new customers.
They Allow For Face Time And Relationship Building
Yes, technology is great, and zoom is pretty good. But, for now, it still can’t replace the real thing. When you are able to meet someone in person, that is when you can really start to build a relationship with them.
I like meeting people in person because it always you to do what I like to call the vibe check. It’s that guy feeling you get if this will be a good partnership or not. Early in my career I would ignore my gut and that little voice in the back of my head telling me to think twice about something. I chalked it up to anxiety. But you know what? As I got older I realized that usually that first gut initial reaction is right.
And, going to a textile trade shows makes meetings with lots of suppliers in the span of a day or two possible. You can then go home, think about everyone you met and decide who is the best fit for you. And, you don't have to feel pressured into working with one person, who you might not be crazy about, because they are the only person on your list.
They Are Chock Full Of Industry Experts, Panels, and Educational Opportunities
Tradeshows have come a far way, even from when I first entered the industry back in 2011. I feel like ½ of the experience now is panels and talks. It’s a great place for newbies like you to come to learn.
Sourcing Textile Trade Shows - The Ultimate List
Unfortunately, because the world is so predictable at this time the dates of trade shows are changing every day. If you are curious about when you can check out these shows in person, simply click the links and go directly to the show website to get the most up to date information.
While this might be a bit annoying, the good news is almost all of these shows have gone digital. That means you can do all your global sourcing from the comfort and safety of your own home!
"This Summer only - Pop Up Sourcing Showroom - Discover a new way to source with us this summer. This July, Apparel Sourcing New York City is moving locations to the Starrett-Lehigh Building to host the Pop Up Showroom, an interactive showroom that will host buyers to touch and feel the samples sent from exhibitors around the world."
"Apparel / Clothing, Men's, Women's, Children's, Active Wear, Trims, Spring/Summer, Fall/Winter, Textiles, Yarns, Footwear, Accessories, Home, Machinery, Services…
ATSM connects the southeastern United States, North America, Latin America, and the Caribbean to the international market for apparel, textiles, and fashion.
Interested attendees come from all over the world to connect with and source from our diverse group of international manufacturers from around the globe."
"THE PREMIER SOURCING EVENT IN THE US – DEDICATED TO HIGH-PERFORMANCE FUNCTIONAL FABRICS
FUNCTIONAL FABRIC FAIR—powered by PERFORMANCE DAYS®— is the premier marketplace in the United States where apparel CEOs, designers, and product development executives source the most current innovations in high-performance functional fabrics, finishes, trims, and accessories from a carefully curated selection of fabric mills and branded technology companies—all presented in a sustainable/minimal waste exhibition through the use of bio-degradable, recycled and reusable materials."
"The Fashion Industryâ€™s Premier West Coast Destination for Textile, Design & Production Resources"
LA TEXTILE is the fashion industry premier West Coast destination for textile, design & production resources worldwide. Showcasing hundreds of international fabric collections and design services, the caliber of resources and fashion direction is presented with West Coast's Contemporary & Lifestyle designers in mind."
"Launched in 2000, Première Vision New York is the event for North American fashion professionals. For 2 days, at Center415 (5th Ave (Bet 37 & 38th Streets), the major industries supplying materials and services to the global fashion industry come together in New York City."
Also, this. is something to pay special attention to
"The selection of Smart Creation exhibitors is based on a global eco-responsible approach which is based on 3 pillars:
THE COMPANY: Its social and ethical responsibility, its environmental performance.
THE TRANSFORMATION PROCESS: traceability, finishing, dyeing processes.
THE PRODUCTS: Recycling technologies, organic content, alternative materials."
This is probably the biggest and most well-known of the textile trade shows in the USA. If you are considering traveling for a show - this is it.
"Domestic and international gathering of manufacturers, suppliers and service providers from apparel and footwear manufacturing, textiles and materials to components, supply chain, and technology solutions."
Keep an eye on their trend forecasting services -
"Understand trend narratives and statistics driving consumer behaviors while breaking down the big ideas of the upcoming A/W '21-22 and S/S '22. Seasons. How has this uncertain era shaped sourcing choices? This report provides key insights to make sense of the current landscape and will keep you ahead of the curve for what's to come. Be sure to download this trend toolkit now! ! "
"Find your next fabric supplier from hundreds of international manufacturers offering a wide range of products, from knits to denim and functional fabrics.
Texworld New York City (formerly known as Texworld USA) is an international business platform to source fabric and materials for fashion. The largest sourcing event on the East Coast hosts global suppliers, fabric buyers, designers, and fashion professionals for 3 days of sourcing, learning, and networking.
This Summer Only - Pop-Up Sourcing Showroom
Discover a new way to source with us this summer. This July, Texworld New York City is moving locations to the Starrett-Lehigh Building to host the pop-up showroom, an interactive showroom that will host buyers to touch and feel the samples sent from exhibitors around the world."
"North America’s only dedicated textile trade show for technical textiles and nonwovens.
Techtextil North America assembles all vertical aspects of the technical textile industry: from research and development, through raw materials and production processes, and finally ending in conversion, further treatment, and recycling.
What you can expect at Techtextil North America 2021 -
Innovation: Utilizing partnerships with academic programs, research institutions, and industry associations, Techtextil North America has cultivated an environment that encourages innovation through the sharing of ideas and collaboration among industry leaders.
New business: With hundreds of exhibiting companies, international media outlets, and pavilions representing top contributors to the global textile industry, both visitors and exhibitors alike gain unparalleled exposure to new business opportunities and potential partnerships.
Diverse product groups: The product groups at Techtextil North America represent the entire value-added chain in the technical textiles and nonwovens sectors.
Education: Expand your expertise and gain a competitive edge through educational sessions led by industry experts."
"Sourcing & Supply Chain - The largest international sourcing event focused on the Canadian and North American Apparel, Textile, and Fashion sectors. Connect with 500+ exhibitors from the world's major manufacturing countries supplying the Canadian apparel market with Finished Apparel, Textiles, Fabrics, and Fashion."
"Join us after the textile trade shows in Toronto for an exclusive one-day-only matchmaking event in Montréal. Meet 50+ international suppliers and manufacturers displaying apparel, textiles, and fashion in an intimate setting where apparel professionals come to network and do business."
"ICSTF 2021: 15. International Conference on Sustainable Textiles and Fashion aims to bring together leading academic scientists, researchers, and research scholars to exchange and share their experiences and research results on all aspects of Sustainable Textiles and Fashion. It also provides a premier interdisciplinary platform for researchers, practitioners, and educators to present and discuss the most recent innovations, trends, and concerns, as well as practical challenges, encountered and solutions adopted in the fields of Sustainable Textiles and Fashion."
"LINEAPELLE is the most important international exhibition dedicated to leather, accessories, components, synthetics, and models for footwear, leather goods, garments, and furniture.
The fair system represented by LINEAPELLE and its connected “niche” events showcases the high quality of the exhibiting companies, with their outstanding style and customer service."
"TLTF offers buyers, distributors, and designers the opportunity to view a large range of textiles from the most prestigious textile mills in Europe – all under one roof!
A new hall, accommodating 50 new fabric manufacturers, was opened in July 2017 at the balcony level.
TLTF attracts designers, buyers and product developers who come not only to maintain existing relationships but work also to source and develop new and exciting products. Being in London, not only is the fair extremely convenient for all our customers but it provides a fantastic opportunity to find inspirational, relevant and directional collections."
"Since launching in 2002, Textile Forum has cemented itself as London’s premier sourcing event for luxury fashion fabrics, now presented over two floors at our prestigious venue One Marylebone. The textile trade shows attract fabric buyers from major fashion retailers and brands, established independent design businesses and start-ups, tailors, craft shops, seamstresses and costumiers.
Visiting companies include: Elvi, Goose, L.K.Bennett, Mint Velvet, Nike, Burberry, Carolina Herrera, Osman Studio, Mulberry, Pearce Fionda, ASOS, The National Theatre, Jenny Packham, Sassi Holfod, Janet Reger, Radley And Co, Hemyca, Jonathan Saunders, E. Tautz, Ashley Williams, Christopher Shannon, Marvel Studios, Jasper Conran, Anna Valentine, Louis Vuitton, Merlin Entertainments, Coco de Mer, Cath Kidson, Arcadia and John Lewis."
"Welcome to ReSOURCE - the sourcing platform for environmentally friendly and responsibly produced textiles and accessories. With the required growth in sustainable fashion, our goal is to guide and support the future of innovative material development and ethically correct manufacturing.
Discover more than 3,000 ReSource articles! New materials, designs and qualities that digitally support you in creating your collections."
Premiere Vision - International Trade Show
"As a true business accelerator for the global fashion industry, Première Vision aims to:
. Capture creativity at its source, to decrypt it, and summarise coming trends to offer inspiring fashion information throughout the year,
. Take the pulse of global business and share it with industry professionals, thanks to a selective offer and differentiating services with high added value,
. Raise the awareness of professionals regarding industry challenges by providing the larger picture and concrete answers for the future of creative fashion: Smart Creation (eco-responsibility), Wearable Lab (fashion tech), training, support for young talent…
. Connect the market’s players, both in person and on-line, at its trade fair and on the web thanks to the industry’s first marketplace launched in September 2018."
"Taking place alongside ready-to-wear fashion trade show Pure London, Pure Origin is the UK’s only fashion sourcing textile trade show to bring every element of the fashion supply chain together in one location. Pure Origin is a convenient and cost-effective route to market for numerous suppliers and manufacturers both from the UK and around the world, not to mention a key source of inspiration and education for its visitors.
Hosted at The Old Truman Brewery on 7th – 9th September 2021, Pure Origin is the must-attend fashion sourcing trade show of the season, offering key industry insights, the latest fabric trends, a carefully curated exhibitor line-up and a dedication to achieving sustainability in the industry."
"This event brings together, twice a year in Paris, around 1500 exhibitors from the fashion industry. It offers professional buyers from all over the world a sourcing platform with a wide variety of products ranging from basics to the most creative and qualitative."
"Join us in Bendigo for the largest event of its type in the world, as the 'best of best' sheep breeders compete and some of the country's most passionate food, fashion and fibre lovers gather to celebrate the mighty Australian sheep. Come and join us!"
"International Sourcing Expo Australia connects Australian and New Zealand trade buyers with a broad range of manufacturers and suppliers from across the globe.
With a focus on apparel, accessories and international textiles, the event provides an efficient way for international sourcing, learning and networking for industry professionals.
If you’re looking to improve or diversify your supply chain and product offer, compare production capability and costs, produce your own label or start a new sourcing business, this is the event for you."
"Join us for three days of interactive speakers forum, unparalleled exhibits and collections, and networking opportunities that bring you the best from the global textile industry.
Exhibitors are mainly from Europe, India, China, Indonesia, Japan, Turkey, and various highly renowned manufacturing countries across the globe. IATF will provide manufacturers and their respective agents with an unparalleled opportunity to showcase their products to the most influential buyers and designers on the UAE scene. Principally a "Trade-Only" event, IATF provides a professional and conductive atmosphere for business networking."
One Last Bonus Tip
Plan ahead, and schedule a full day after the show to get organized. You are going to me so, so many people. And hopefully find all the fabrics you were looking for to help you launch your line. You will need the full day to organize business cards, go over all your notes from the show, and send follow up emails for swathes and sample yardage.