The third edition of Future Fabrics Expo took place from September 22-24, 2013. Held at the Olympia Exhibition Centre in London, the show was housed for the first time alongside Fashion SVP, a sourcing event with focus on near-shore production. The Future Fabrics Expo was established in 2011 to enlighten designers and brands about the innovative world of sustainable fabrics, introducing them to the variety of materials available within this growing category, and helping to extend networks in the fashion and textiles industries.

30 mills from around the world specializing in fabrics with a lower environmental impact took part this year. Hundreds of different materials were on show – from the colorful tweeds of UK mill Dashing Tweeds, to the brightly hued fish leathers by Icelandic tannery Atlantic Leather, which creates materials from fish such as salmon, perch and cod. The old chestnut that sustainable fabrics are all murky and tied-dyed has long evaporated, but the examples displayed at Future Fabrics Expo really had a forward-thinking and high fashion quality to them. Denim was fairly well represented, too, courtesy of the likes of Kassim Denim and Raymond Uco.

Aside from the wide range of fabrics served up, the expo also made room for a string of exhibitors who operate within the field though not in the area of textile production. Avery Dennison, one of the event’s main sponsors, presented a selection of sustainable packaging and labeling solutions, such as swing tags and size strips. Digital Sensoria, meanwhile, is a project funded by the Research Councils UK Digital Economy Programme. The main premise of Digital Sensoria is to offer designers, companies and consumers a new “language” allowing them to convey sensory perceptions of texiles and other products through rich multi-modal digital interfaces.

When we visited the Future Fabrics Expo in the afternoon of the last day (Tues. 24 Sept.) it was busy, and certainly more buzzing than the adjoining SVP show.  “This is the first time we’ve exhibited within a commercial venue, which is a reflection of our growth,” said co-organizer Charlotte Turner. “A significant number of big brands have visited this year– among them many UK based highstreet names– and they’ve all showed genuine interest and commitment to making their businesses more environmentally friendly by looking into ways to source fabrics more sustainably.” Future Fashion Expo may still be a small-scale event in its infancy, but we believe it has the potential to become a significant force in steering the industry down a greener route.