Despite the general market difficulties, the kickoff of the European textile fairs for s/s 2008 was positive.

This mood pervaded Munich Fabric Start, the first event of the season, which took place February 7 to 9 in Munich’s M,O,C and Zenith Hall exhibiting areas.

The German trade show registered about 12,500 visitors, 13% more than a year ago, and showcased a total of 680 exhibitors.

Its denim-focused Blue Zone section achieved a significant goal. It was fully booked for the first time with 51 exhibitors and attracted 30% more visitors than the previous edition. An increase of 23% more international visitors was also registered. Most of them came from Austria, Switzerland and Italy, followed by The Netherlands, Eastern Europe and Turkey.

Sebastian Klinder, manager of the Blue Zone section, said of the growth: “People speak about Blue Zone and are aware of how it grew.” He added that there also was a lot of interest in a new upcoming competing initiative, Blue Ribbon, a denim-oriented offspring of the newborn Italian fair First Alternative due to debut in summer ‘07 in Rimini. “Representatives from Blue Ribbon have visited us and were very impressed from what they saw. For this they would like to recreate an exhibit inspired by the same spirit of MFS in Italy.”

The fair featured some new global exhibitors such as the Mexican giant denim manufacturer Telas Parras and visitors from international brand names such as Levi’s, VF Group, Gant, French Connection and Firetrap.

The Blue Zone is currently studying the possibility of offering new initiatives to the jeanswear and casualwear market. One idea is to launch a new and distinct workshop – in addition to the usual event held within MFS – for a few selected exhibitors in either Berlin or Munich in July, a time when more orders are written in the jeanswear industry. It is also considering hosting a few selected and top-quality manufacturers of ready garments in some of the few left spaces of the Zenit Hall area (where the Blue Zone is held) on the first floor. “We want to offer our visitors a complete service,” says Klinder. “And the possibility to host top apparel manufactures in small offices for private appointments would round off the circle of what we can offer to international jeanswear and casualwear manufacturers.”

Highlights of the season include an increasing interest in organic issues: Bossa offered a whole range of denim made with 100% organic cotton and dyed with 100% natural dyestuff. Intesa Tessuti, a cotton fabric manufacturer, offered fabrics containing Futura organic cotton fibers and MIC, an Italian sewing thread manufacturer, presented a range of organic cotton yarns.

Dark and clean denims continue to rule the market but are enriched by bright surface effects or Lurex yarn additions. Such offerings were presented by Isko, Orta and Hellenic Fabrics, among others.

On the opposite side, CDI and Bossa presented a wide series of frosted effects and bleached and marble-look denims.

New finishes also enlarge the market offer with new hues of colored denim – like those presented by Martelli – and new mixed techniques of embroidery and aging effects as developed by ITAC.

— Maria Cristina Pavarini, Senior Features Editor