“Fabric Frenzy at Première Vision”

A brief brainstorm on sourcing Fabrics

Première Vision Paris, which took place last week, is heralded as the top tier designer fabric show in the world, attracting the major fashion houses among its 50,000 visitors. Beyond the world’s most luxurious fabrics and trimmings, the show also offers trend seminars and specialist advice including copyrighting your product.

However, those unable to make it shouldn’t be discouraged, as the following are also touted as excellent resources for their respective specialties:

–       Pitti Filati in Florence, specializing in yarns and clour (2325 January 2013)

–       Linea Pelle in Bologna, for leather (twice yearly in April and October)

–       Tissu Premier in Lille, woven fabric specialists (28-29 Nov’12)

–       Texworld, generally considered to be cheaper than PV and better suited to middle range producers (17-20 September 2012)

And for UK based fairs:

–       Textile Forum, fabrics from UK and continental mills (17-18 October 2012)

–       The London Textile Fair, mills and suppliers mainly from Europe (23-24 January 2013)

Fibre2fashion and Textile World are both useful sources to browse global fabric events, and even if you are unable to take the trip, it is definitely worth following fabric conferences and fairs online, via blogs, twitter and Facebook, to keep up-to-date with the ever-increasing innovations and ethical issues at the forefront of the marketplace.  For instance, a conference I’ll be following online will be the 2012 Sustainable Textiles Conference in Hong Kong (4-5 October), billed as a focus on “Innovation, Investment, Impacts and Integrity”, which has a host of key speakers lined up including Cotton Connect’s CEO Rosanne Gray, to discuss the future of the textile industry.

With greater importance being placed on ethical practices, and consumers gradually changing the way they purchase products, there are numerous ethical resources popping up to meet the need of the ethical fashion designer. I’ll touch more on those in a later post, but in terms of sourcing sustainable fabrics, Offset Warehouse, Source4Style, and Social Alterations are useful go-to sites.

Key things to bear in mind when sourcing fabric:

–       Navigating around trade fairs: go to fairs on the last day when it’s quieter, armed with business cards, to provide your business with credibility.  If you can’t go, use the exhibitor directory as a database of fabric mills (for instance on the Premiere Vision site you can see who all the silk suppliers are, and their respective agents)

–       Sourcing from Abroad: Orders from mills abroad can invariably be late, which can have a knock on effect on the whole production process. Designers often experience misprinted colours, fabric which is of different quality to the sample, and a failure to figure in potential shrinkage after pressing and steaming.

–       Minimum Orders: if the minimum order is too large and you can’t afford the surcharge, business consultant Toby White suggests either tacking it onto the end of another major order, or buying a large amount of fabric and dying it yourself and stick to a simple range in one fabric.

I’d be keen to hear of other fabric resources, experiences or pitfalls to look out for, so do get in touch! xx

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