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Fostering Collaboration for Sustainability at Texworld USA and Apparel Sourcing USA

At the Javits Center in New York City, event producer Messe Frankfurt held its summer 2019 edition of Texworld USA and Apparel Sourcing USA July 22–24 with a large push toward sustainability.

“We had three times more ecologically sound exhibitors than in 2018—with 60 as eco-friendly or sustainable certified, we reduced the use of carpet and our signage on 90 percent of the show floor was recyclable,” explained Messe Frankfurt’s marketing manager of fashion and apparel, Lauren Klopfenstein. “We also used approximately 2,500 feet of recycled banners from 2018 that were turned into our show bags.”

In addition to these eco-friendly components, Texworld USA and Apparel Sourcing USA launched a sustainable-education session called Fashionsustain. The one-day sustainability conference was inspired by Messe Frankfurt’s Berlin-based Neonyt event.

“Attendees were really looking for ways regarding how to become sustainable and how to get started with sustainable practices in the fashion industry, so we included talks and panels on those topics,” said Klopfenstein.

Attendees filled the space, which quickly became standing room only, to hear speakers from major companies such as Athleta, PVH, Vince, Eileen Fisher and Walmart e-commerce to discuss topics including upcycling, traceability and transparency.

“We did a spotlight on sustainability because the whole industry is talking about it,” said Klopfenstein.

One ecologically conscious exhibitor was the Arlington, Va., organization Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production, whose communications manager, Seth Lennon, noted that he saw a lot of traffic due to a shift that has changed sustainability from a specialty segment to a major component of apparel manufacturing.

“Sustainability is not just a buzzword thrown around to make yourself sound like you are making a difference—there is actually tangible movement in this arena,” he said. “At our booth, we had a bunch of new and emerging designers and brands come by and talk to us because ethical sourcing is at or near the top of priorities for them.”

Looking to expand his reach in the United States, DanielMota Pinto chose to work with Texworld USA and Apparel Sourcing USA because of his company’s commitment to sustainable-apparel-production standards. As director of strategy and business development for the Cavaloes, Portugal–based textile-manufacturing company Scoop, Mota Pinto believed the events could serve as resources to forge strong connections with partners to help reach these goals.

“The U.S. is a target market for our company, and we believe we can bring to the U.S. innovation and best practices in the industry,” he said. “We want to be part of shows that align with our own dimension and customer target, and be closer to the U.S. universities where we aim to develop relationships and partnerships to research new fabrics.”

Looking for more-sustainable solutions to increase capability for eco-friendly apparel manufacturing, attendees found solutions for a circular-clothing-production system. Most striking was the rise in a fresh atmosphere of collaboration rather than a shroud of secrecy, noted Alice Redmond, who is the social media manager at fashion-sustainability, nongovernmental organization The New Fashion Initiative.

“A lot of commentary was focused on the increasing number of brands—small or large—who are prioritizing important initiatives and collaborating with like-minded brands,” she said. “Brands, which intuitively would be classed as competitors in the space, are now partners in creating and sustaining change through a holistic and authentic approach.”