Functional Fabric Fair 2019
Photo: Functional Fabric Fair

Functional Fabric Fair 2019 Photo: Functional Fabric Fair


Virtual Functional Fabric Fair Series to Launch With Mindful Trade-Show Mission

The Functional Fabric Fair Powered by Performance Days is preparing to launch its virtual offering as digital trade events gain momentum due to COVID-19 cancellations of physical shows. Hosted July 20-23, Reed Exhibitions’ Functional Fabric Fair will unveil the Expert Talks Live Webinar Series online with a 12-session schedule covering topics such as “Microfiber Analysis for More-Sustainable Product Development,” “Verification and Validation: Communicating Sustainability Efforts to Consumers,” and “Sustainable Sourcing and Supply-Chain Management” by the Hohenstein Institute; “Collaboration Is Key” with the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists and “Inspired by Nature: The Evolution of Sport & Textile” with designer Nora Kühner.

“I want each session to spark an idea,” Marketing and Industry Development Director Chadaé Bowler explained. “Even though our series covers sustainability and the focus topic, which is ‘Inspired by Nature,’ I want them to walk away with something valuable that helps them become more sustainable or collaborate with a speaker.”

For Bowler, organizing a digital strategy means more than simply trying to fill the time that would have been occupied by the July 20–21 Functional Fabric Fair at the Javits Center in New York City.

“It is really important for me to put my customers first, but, for me, my customers aren’t just the people on the other side of the screen,” she said. “It’s really important, for the relationships, to have these conversations and not always be about the bottom line or ‘How do I get ahead?’”

Within the current climate, Bowler is forging conversations regarding inclusivity in the fashion and trade-show spaces, which she hopes will inspire attendees to consider and implement actionable, progressive changes within their businesses. A session titled “Social Impact Is the New Black: Where the fashion and apparel industry is going wrong with diversity” will feature commentary from Brittany Sierra, founder of Portland’s The Sustainable Fashion Forum, and Gus Harris, who is the director of product design and sourcing at Mizzen+Main and will share the company’s perspectives as Black fashion professionals.

“Brittany Sierra has learned so much in the space and grown an incredible following to become a leader in educating consumers and brands regarding the direction we are going with sustainability,” Bowler said. “It’s important to have that diverse voice because it is a conversation that hasn’t really been amplified enough to include the Black community.”

Tactile experiences are crucial to the apparel industry, an important point that Bowler still considers when planning events. With an on-site trade-show foundation, she does see an opportunity to build additional virtual components in the future.

“This audience is very smart. Because it is a technical audience and our messaging for the overall series is not so much how to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s how we can create a more-sustainable future in fashion,” she said. “Our physical events have to have some virtual aspect, whether a livestream or virtual showrooms. I am exploring all those options.”