The 25th edition of Munich Fabric Start, held in Munich’s M.O.C. exhibition center, drew to a close on Friday, with positive results to show. According to organizer Sebastian Klinder, the three-day event, focusing on fall/winter 2009-10 fabric previews, registered a 12% visitor increase compared to the September 2007 edition (definitive results are not available yet). Despite such significant developments of the main exhibition, Blue Zone in the Zenithalle pavilion, which hosted 61 companies including denim manufacturers, finishers and textile service companies, had a quieter response, despite a slightly busier second day. “We know that the present situation of the denim business is not an easy one,” Klinder said. “We know that the market is suffering and some companies are facing hard times.”

The quieter mood was also due in part to the advent of competing fairs. “In addition, two other fairs dedicated to denim insiders have started operating–Denim by PV and The Source,” Klinder added. As a result, change might be on the horizon for Blue Zone, which used to kick off the beginning of the season for the textile shows. “Despite this, we are happy for Blue Zone, since we are offering the market a useful service at a reasonable price, within a relaxed and constructive atmosphere. In addition we also noticed an increase in visitors from countries such as Italy, Tunisia and Belgium,” Klinder explained. Of similar opinion were several exhibitors. Thomas Dislich, CEO Vicunha Europe, said: “Participating at Blue Zone brings to us significant results–less in terms of quantity than quality. I have the opportunity to meet people working for companies such as S. Oliver, Esprit and Boss.”

This season the show debuted a new lighting system that offered daylight effects and white panels covering the outside of the booths and floor corridors in Zenithalle. The fair also collaborated with the young Japanese artist, Yuka Oyama, for a more artistic edge.

According to Panos Sofianos, product manager for Hellenic Fabrics, the makeover signaled some optimism in the industry. “Although white and clearly defined shades are not so related to the denim world, I think it was a good step to renovate the show’s image. It’s a sign that Blue Zone is a lively organism ready to evolve and meet the ever-changing needs of the market.”

Several returning visitors, including Isko, and new ones, such as Kuroki and Nihon Menpu Textile from Japan and Bezsan Tekstil, Marassi Denim and Perateks from Turkey, were the highlights of the show. Absolute Denim, a new denim manufacturer from Thailand, made its international debut at the shows.

Among the key trends and news for fall/winter 2009-10, vintage looks and ringspun effects will make a strong comeback, though fabrics will be developed in lightweight fabrics only because of recent and widespread warmer seasons. Stretch is also an absolute for both loose and skinny fits. And ITV will launch “milk denim,” a special eco-minded denim with 10% of its yarns obtained from milk.

-Maria Cristina Pavarini

UPDATE: Munich Fabric Start now confirms a 13% increase in visitor attendance, or 14,200 attendees up from 12,600, from the previous year.