Seventy textile manufacturers, suppliers and service providers exhibited at the FFF with good representation from Taiwan, in addition to European and U.S. companies. Fabric vendors from South America, Vietnam and China also showed. New relationships formed: vendors tapped buyers outside the performance-wear arena, while buyers and designers explored new territory of ingredient tech. New York has been a white space for this kind of experience; other textile shows have stretched to reach a broader audience with an added eco-emphasis and technical fabric displays, but at the moment the Functional Fabric Fair appears to hit on something new and different. Here’s what some exhibitors had to say:
“The sport/outdoor crowd understands functional fabrics, so this is good opportunity to talk with fashion people who want to learn about performance textiles,” said Angela Domsitz a representative with The WoolMark Company. “It’s a good mixed crowd. We’ve met new people as well as seen our partners, and re-connected with others.” She added, that “recycled” is big on the fashion front and a direction being explored.
“We’ve seen people from Everlane, J.Crew, PVH, Free Country and Untuckit among others,” commented Jen Miller of Concept III Textiles, a sales and marketing firm representing several performance lines including AMBT wool from Australia. “They see merino as a trend and want to get their customers onboard. They are looking to incorporate merino, and recognize that merino blends work, but are asking how do we make our garment different from Smartwool, for example.”
“Brands are looking for down alternatives,” said Joe DiGiroLamo of Thermore, who met with execs from American Eagle, Ralph Lauren and Reebok. “They are talking about sustainability and concerned about animal welfare issues related to down.” Thermore showcased its EcoDown synthetic insulation along with a stretch insulation product.
“Tech that adds an extra element of comfort is on a growth path,” said Christy Raedeke, of Cocona/37.5. Recent developments for the ingredient brand have come in men’s suiting and footwear. The company partners with Banana Republic as well as Carhartt in denim.
“Reflective has a role in design and fashion trends, but also trends in functionality,” said Chuck Gruber, president, Safe Reflections. To his point, a stylishly contemporary dress displayed in the company’s booth showed how reflective can be incorporated in a fashion garment, proving that the material has evolved far from its safety origins.