CHINA: A LAND OF SUPERLATIVES BUT NOT OF TEXTILE INNOVATION

Intertextile is a fabrics trade show no short of superlatives. Taking place in the biggest city of the world’s most highly populated country and on the world’s largest trade show grounds, the Intertextile Shanghai Apparel Fabrics hosted a total of 4,600 exhibitors (3,464 of which were domestic and 1,172 from overseas) last week between October 13 and 15.

The atmosphere was bustling and busy and all of the nine halls (occupying an area of 228,000 sqm) maintained a constant flow of national and international visitors inspecting the latest fabric developments for fall/winter 16-17.

Selling well in China: Colorful and printed denim by Panther
Selling well in China: Colorful and printed denim by Panther

However, it is indisputably still the international halls and exhibitors to turn to for true innovation rather than the Chinese manufacturers.
“It will take another five to ten years until the Chinese offer will be truly innovative. The workforce hast to be trained better and the factories need to have the right machines in order to be more inventive. In terms of denim, Italy, Japan and Turkey are still leading”, said Steven Wang of China-based Panther Textiles, who supply denim for a range of renown international mid-price players including Gap, Bestseller or American Eagle.

DENIM GOES STRONG

Next to Panther, Winsing Denim was another highlight exhibitor amongst the local manufacturers in this season’s expanded Beyond Denim hall. The international cast included names such as Cone Denim or HW Textiles from Hong Kong, who presented a special SeaCell denim including moisturizing seaweed fibers or Orta Anadolu from Turkey, who displayed their Vegan and BodyFrame denim and showed extremely happy with the local response to their offering. After all, the Chinese market is full of high potential for overseas textile manufacturers. Ömer Murat Sözeri, responsible for the Chinese market at Orta, reported he just had a meeting with Yishion, a Chinese young fashion retail chain that has more than 5,000 stores in China – and is greatly unknown in Europe.

Vegan Denim by Orta Anadolu
Vegan Denim by Orta Anadolu

For the first time ever, Beyond Denim did not only host local and overseas denim manufacturers, but also a selection of ready-to-wear denim brands from adjacent fashion trade show CHIC, including Joneaa or BOYI (Shanghai).
Additionally, there was also a nicely arranged trend forum showcasing exhibitor samples matching the five trend themes: Dwell (modern, athleisure, indigo knits, stretch, corduroy), Western (“cowboy”-style, worn looks, yarn-dye shirts, eyelets, embroideries), Cyber (technical fabrics, performance oriented, synthetic, coated and bonded materials, metallic finishes), Artisan (functional, raw and selvedge denim, crafted, Shibori prints) and Wanderer (pigment and tie dyes, patchwork, applications, ethnic prints).  Generally, all sorts of high percentage stretch and recovery denims were dominating the booths.

'Dwell' installation in the denim trend forum
'Dwell' installation in the denim trend forum


CHINA FACES EXTREME ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS

Next to Beyond Denim, another area hosting an interesting spectrum of textile innovation was the All About Sustainability Zone which was brought to live two years ago. China has a huge pollution problem, most prominently manifesting in its water crisis. Cleaning up China’s polluted water resources would cost the Chinese government ca. one trillion US-Dollars, a number faced by “only” 270 US billions of tax income generated from the local textile industry.  To address this problem, China has seen the introduction of the new, much stricter ‘Environmental Protection Law’ by the beginning of 2015 – since then, around 3,000 textile factories have left the country and 300 cases of violation against the new law - worth penalties of 30 Mio US-Dollar - were detected in the first six months alone. This only underlines the high importance of sustainable alternatives in all stages of the textile chain. A very interesting innovation was presented by the Taiwanese New Wide Group, who developed a special “Eco-Trans” printing procedure which uses a special printing paper and water-based instead of oil-based ink. Eco-Trans printing has a higher penetration into all sorts of different fibers compared to conventional procedures with a dye excess of only 5-10% (which can even be recycled).

Eco-Trans Prints by Taiwanese New Wide Group
Eco-Trans Prints by Taiwanese New Wide Group

Generally, Taiwan presented a broad offer, hosting 120 exhibitors (especially from the knit and technological field) in the biggest of all six Asian country pavilions.  There were five European pavilions (Germany, Turkey, UK, Portugal and France) plus Milano Unica’s Shanghai edition in a separated pavilion with 102 exhibitors.

TOP TEN FABRIC TRENDS FOR FALL/WINTER 2016-17

A well-curated compendium of fabric and textile trends for the fall/winter 2016-17 season was given in the Trend Forum. The following ten directions turned out to be especially high in demand:
- bonded qualities (soft, light, bulky; even employing cashmere!)
- 3-dimensional, relief fabrics
- sparkling materials
- mesh (texture plays and important role; even wool is used for mesh!)
- felted qualities (compact and heavy)
- crêpe fabrics (not flat but bulky)
- performance coated fabrics
- double-sided qualities
- natural materials such as linen, ramie, bamboo or even pineapple fibers (niche)
- recycled fabrics (suppliers have even started recycling food trash into fibers)

Fabric moods in the Trend Forum
Fabric moods in the Trend Forum


TURNING SHANGHAI INTO A TEXTILE HOT SPOT

Starting with the previous edition in March (when the new National Exhibition and Convention center was still under construction in some parts) the China National Textile and Apparel Council (CNTAC) united the four industry trade shows Intertextile (apparel fabrics), CHIC (read-to-wear fashion), PH Value (finished knitwear products) and Yarn Expo (fiber suppliers) under one roof, setting a strong local event for the entire industry supply chain. In the very predetermined press conference, Xu Yingxin, Executive Vice President of the Sub-Council of the Chinese Textile Industry, explained how many of the companies of the CNTAC joint fall fair “believe that expanding their sales channels is no longer the only purpose for exhibiting; instead, optimizing their business supply chain and seeking suitable upstream or downstream long-term business partners are the priorities at the fair”. 
The next edition of Intertextile Shanghai will run March 16-18, 2016.

The world's largest trade show ground unites not only Intertextile and CHIC
The world's largest trade show ground unites not only Intertextile and CHIC