London sourcing fair Fashion SVP (organized by IDEX) has extended its repertoire to include a denim hall – enter Source Denim. The showcase, due to be unveiled June 26-27 at Olympia exhibition center, will present some 50 denim producers from 14 countries. A schedule of seminars headed by key denim figures will also be part of the concept, covering the state of the industry, sustainable production, ethical issues and more. We caught up with Fashion SVP CEO Buzz Carter to learn more.
How did the idea behind Source Denim come about?
Fashion SVP has grown organically since its launch in 2012. We’ve been quite selective in our approach, not wanting to rush things. A sourcing show is a sourcing show, but these fairs don’t have to be dull – the quality should be high and reflect the changes that have taken place in the buying departments. We’ve formed a close bond with a group of buyers who give us feedback on the show and what they’d like to see – the athleisure showcase, launched in 2017, was developed due to demand, and the same goes for the new denim initiative. We’ve always presented a sprinkling of denim but there’s been an increasing interest from UK buyers for more. The feedback has been strong – ‘bring in more denim!’
What do you think has prompted this desire, and is it stronger at any particular end of the market?
Denim is fighting back, regaining its position after having been somewhat overshadowed by the athleisure movement. Advancement in textile technology has seen denim take a big step forward, making it just as comfortable to wear as any athleisure Lycra garment. The demand for denim seems particularly strong in the mid-market – a more tailored RTW denim look has emerged in this field, which is really interesting.
What’s your ambition with Source Denim, and how will you position it within the international denim fair landscape?
Fashion SVP attracts about 80% UK buyers so I’d say we’re quite a local show, and I believe the same will apply to Source Denim. Our launching a denim show with its own identity alongside Fashion SVP is not an attempt to compete with similar shows across Europe. There are some great fairs out there, but up until now, there hasn’t been much for local buyers who might not be able to travel to Europe regularly to explore denim. Our denim show is a reaction to what’s been missing – it’s our way of delivering what UK buyers want.
Please name a few of the players that have signed up for the first show in June.
There’s a wave of Pakistani and Indian producers that haven’t showed in the UK before including Soorty, Siddiqsons, Suriyalakshmi and Billoomi. We’ll also be welcoming Marjomotex from Portugal, Heng Feng Weavers from China and the Italian producer Everest. Between them, they’ll be offering fabric as well as finished garments.
Denim has been in the spotlight due to its unsustainable practices. At the last Fashion SVP show, green thinking was key. Will this be mirrored in Source Denim?
Sustainability is part of our ethos and we do vet every company that applies, taking every aspect into consideration, including the ethical approach. Each applicant gets a lengthy questionnaire to fill out, but the sustainability score of a producer might change from one season to the next. I’ve visited the factories of some of our exhibitors and they’ve carefully addressed the washing problem, for instance, trying to find ways to minimize water consumption. I feel that the denim industry is responding to the critique, and we’re supporting the debate.
These issues have really entered the public consciousness as well, thanks to the power of social media.