As of Friday, March 6, 2020
The coronavirus did not put a big dent in robust crowds for the LA Textile trade show, which ran March 4–6 at the California Market Center in downtown Los Angeles.
Matthew Mathiasen, manager for buyer and community relations at the CMC, said that 1,500 people attended the first day of the biannaual trade show devoted to fabrics. Approximately 85 exhibitors displayed at the show, the majority which are headquartered in America or Europe, Mathiasen said. So far, the coronavirus travel quarantine has focused on travelers from China and East Asia.
Shkendie Kaziu-Basler of the Switzerland-headquartered company Jakob Schlaepfer AG said that some of her colleagues had misgivings about exhibiting at a trade show with big crowds. She had booked booth space at the show months before fears about the coronavirus had surfaced. But she wanted to develop new leads in an important market for her company, so she decided to go ahead. Jakob Schlaepfer focuses on high-end fabrics that have been used in red-carpet gowns. The recent show marked the first time in a decade that the Swiss company had exhibited at LA Textile.
Hemp Traders, based in Paramount, Calif., is another brand that made a return to LA Textile after not exhibiting for about a decade. The brand made a return engagement after an explosion of interest in sustainable fabrics, including hemp, said Lawrence Serbin, Hemp Trader’s founder.
Sustainable fabrics have been in demand for more than a year, said Justin Perron, a junior business development manager for Peclers Paris, a trend-forecasting consultancy that produced a booth at the show. Perron remembered that sustainable fabrics were carving out an important presence at the show more than a year ago and it’s growing.
“It’s the hottest topic in the fabrics industry right now,” Perron said. “People want to see how to integrate the fabrics into their brands.”
Mathiasen said that attendees had been requesting eco fabrics in past shows and that 40 percent of the show’s vendors offered sustainable textiles.
Matthew Moses of the Los Angeles–headquartered Manfield Outpost said that he walked the show looking for organic cottons. He also was interested in Tahoe nylon, a soft, breathable nylon that can be used in swim and athleisure styles.
He also noted that vendors are more willing to make deals. “People are being more flexible about minimums than they have in the past,” Moses said.
Ron Kaufman, sales manager at Robert Kaufman Fabrics, said orders with low minimums have been popular with growth businesses in apparel. They are direct-to-consumer brands that seek custom prints from his company as well as others. Tropical prints and yarn-dyed flannel prints have been popular with his company’s clients.
The pace of business also has become faster in the past few years. “They need to make fast turns,” Kaufman said. “They’re looking for someone with inventory who can move quickly.”