The Materials Show and Première Vision Sport Bring Comprehensive Athletic Sourcing to the Pacific Northwest

During its first collaborative run with newly launched Première Vision Sport, The Northwest Materials Show brought to Portland, Ore., expanded offerings in a region that many consider the outdoor-enthusiast capital of the United States. Hosted at the Oregon Convention Center Aug. 14–15, this new partnership allowed attendees who are focused on athletic apparel and footwear to easily explore sourcing options and trends between categories.

In addition to its new partner, which brought apparel-fabric sourcing options, The Materials Show also partnered with the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America to host the Footwear Materials Summit on August 13. Hisham Muhareb, founder of The Material Show’s parent company, American Events, Inc., reported a 30 percent increase in attendees over the February edition and reported they were looking for sustainable materials to include in sourcing.

“We attracted brands from all over the world—Lacoste, Lululemon, Columbia, Nike Swim, Perry Ellis, Hannah Anderson, Brooks Running, Skechers and Deckers,” he said. “A lot of brands are looking to get away from plastics and petrol materials toward more-sustainable and eco products such as foam from algae.”

Shopping for her pure-yoga-enthusiast customer, Alo Yoga’s creative director of apparel, Mystika Jones, was excited to have a local show to attend when considering sourcing options for the Los Angeles–based brand. Accommodating a consumer who is focused on wellness of body and environment means that she was interested in more- mindful sourcing.

“It’s very exciting to have a show that’s in the heart of the Northwest and active movement. Because I live in Portland but commute to L.A., it was nice to have something local,” Jones said. “As a yoga brand, we are interested in making thoughtful, considered product using recycled materials in trims and performance garments.”

Britta Cabanos, co-founder of Portland, Ore.’s design-and-consulting firm Creative Capital Design, has attended both The Materials Show on the West Coast and Première Vision’s Paris edition but was elated to have greater apparel options in the Pacific Northwest. She mentioned that the increased presence of more print studios than during previous editions provided greater sourcing options.

“I loved it and was super excited to have it because I am an apparel person, not a footwear person,” she said. “In the past I had gone and not found much for me, so to have that aspect added in Portland was fantastic.”

Impressed by the work of first-time exhibitor Longina Phillips Designs, an Australian textile-design studio, Cabanos also appreciated the presentations by different textile providers who showcased their offerings. To easily see new trends and possibilities in fabrics from exhibitors such as Paris-headquartered Peclers Paris was extremely helpful and a welcome component of the show.

“The presentations are where I got the most information,” she said. “It was a little easier to get everything in one presentation rather than walking the floor and digging through the booth to find those things.”

At the booth for Bloom Foam, the Meridian, Miss., company that uses algae biomass to make plant-based foam used to create performance footwear—while also cleaning the water supply—co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Ryan Hunt noticed more traffic than in previous editions exhibiting at The Materials Show. For many attendees, sustainable sourcing has become a big draw to sourcing shows, which worked in Bloom Foam’s favor as it continues to promote a sustainable-apparel mission.

“Every person that came by the booth and every brand we’ve been talking to has sustainability products now, or at least they’re talking about it now,” he said. “The designers want to do it when they see other brands doing it, and they don’t want to be left behind.”

Not only did attendees seek more-sustainable options but there also seemed to be a genuine interest in joining up with sourcing partners who can provide these eco-friendly products along the supply chain.

“There was much more earnestness as people try to find ways to incorporate sustainability into their finished product,” added Dave Smith, an account executive for Bloom Foam. “The consumer is asking for it, Millennials are willing to pay more and are looking for brands to do it, designers have an interest in it, and the brands want to do it.”

With eco-friendly initiatives and campaigns on their minds, attendees also commented on the increased importance of the mission toward sustainable sourcing. Visiting the shows from Portland, Ore.–headquartered Columbia Sportswear, Danielle Coggin, a materials trend researcher, said that she appreciated the large turnout and mentioned that the exhibitors provided a sustainable presence, which makes her job much easier.

“All the suppliers really put their best foot forward in showcasing what they’re doing for the environment, which is super appealing in my research because going forward everything we do has to encompass it,” Coggin said. “That was great to see.”