The latest edition of Intertextile Shanghai Apparel Fabrics concluded last month with new exhibitor and buyer records set, orders continuing to be placed in spite of economic uncertainty, and general optimism about the global textile industry being the prevailing sentiment.
“This edition has further reinforced the fair’s status as the foremost platform in Asia for the global apparel fabrics and accessories industry,” Messe Frankfurt’s Senior General Manager, Ms Wendy Wen, commented. “Speaking with exhibitors this week, there was definitely a realisation that the market is changing, but also a recognition that buyers are still placing orders and looking to do business at the fair. For many exhibitors, customers that they found at previous editions are now placing regular orders at subsequent fairs, validating their decision to exhibit at Intertextile. And all the while, the Chinese mid and high markets continue to be robust, with much potential still to be realised.”
Ms. Wendy Wen, Senior General Manager, Messe Frankfurt (HK) Ltd.
Continuing the trend of the last few years, the exhibitor and visitor numbers rose once again in 2016. The exhibitor figure reached 3,155 from 27 countries and regions (2015: 2,636, 24 countries and regions) while the final visitor count totalled 71,163 from more than 100 countries and regions, which included buyers from the concurrent Yarn Expo, CHIC and PH Value fairs who also entered the Intertextile Shanghai halls (2015: 62,649, 88 countries and regions). Intertextile Shanghai itself took place across 156,000 gross sqm.
Fair praised by exhibitors as best platform to reach China and Asia markets
Participating companies from around the world and across the product spectrum reported Intertextile Shanghai was the best method for them to access the China and Asian markets. “This is the best fair in Asia to promote our products as it attracts the right type of buyers from the right countries,” Mr Jang Youn Seok, Overseas Sales Manager at Korea’s Hyundai Chemical said. “There are many buyers here, and we’ve met new ones from Hong Kong, China and Turkey.” Lenzing’s Maggie Shen, concurred. “Definitely yes, this fair is the best event in Asia to promote our products,” she said. “As the biggest textile fair in China, it really is a good platform to meet customers through the whole supply chain. We’ve had very good traffic at our booth during the three days, and many enquiries.”
An Intertextile veteran of 15 years, Creations Robert Vernet, a French exhibitor in the Verve for Design zone, still finds the fair worthwhile. “It’s still very important for us as Intertextile Shanghai is becoming the place to be more and more each year, especially for the Chinese market which is becoming more important. There’s still huge potential here,” Mr Benoit Feder, Sales & Export Manager said. Fellow repeat exhibitor Liberty Art Fabrics also had a successful fair. “This edition is the best fair we’ve joined in recent years,” Ms Rachel Huang explained. “The buyers are more professional and serious than before, and there’s great demand for our printed fabrics from Chinese and Asian apparel and fashion buyers.”
Exhibitors report demand from China remains high while optimism for future remains
Much talk leading into the fair centred on the fluctuating Chinese economy and how this might affect buyer numbers and demand. And while exhibitors noted the market situation was changing and that strategies needed to be adjusted in some cases, many reported little or no negative effect on demand at present, as well as optimism about what the future holds. Digital printing company Digitex USA, was one such exhibitor. “The Chinese market isn’t slowing too much, and it’s in a better shape than other countries. Chinese buyers are curious about the overseas trends still, and Intertextile is the best platform in Asia to find new buyers,” Mr A. El Rhman El Mor from the company’s China headquarters, Shaoxing Digital Printing & Dyeing, opined.
Ms Longina Phillips, from Australian design studio Longina Phillips Designs which was participating in Verve for Design, perhaps illustrated the steady demand best when she said: “On the first day of the fair you couldn’t move through the aisles, it was that busy!” She continued: “For the future, China is still an emerging market so there’s more potential here. Buyers have more respect for IP nowadays and they’re more professional.”
Chinese exhibitors are perhaps in the best position to comment on the local market situation, with a number of them just as positive as their overseas peers. Shandong Ruyi Cotton Textile Group, which recently acquired a controlling stake in France’s SMCP, expanded their participation in Intertextile this year to include their full product spectrum, and reported a lot of interest from buyers. Ms Zhang Hong Mei, Deputy General Manager, explained: “I don’t think the current economic situation will bring us any concern. We see improvement in this fair every time we attend, and it really helps us to meet quality buyers.” Huafu Top Dyed Melange Yarn, another leading Chinese company, also had a successful fair. “Compared with March last year, we can see a big increase in the visitor flow. We target big-brand companies, so the biggest reason we attend this fair is we can meet these type of buyers here,” Ms Samantha Long said.
The international nature of the fair‘s buyer profile, unrivalled in Asia, also provided a boost for exhibitors. “We had many of our target buyers visit our booth this time, especially because there were more overseas buyers compared to last year, and we’ve received many orders,” Ms Snow Xue, Sales Manager at Kunshan Doonly Textile from China outlined. “I don’t think the current economic situation will have a big influence on our business because we target the high-end market where technology and quality are important for Chinese buyers.” Guangzhou Fangyi Knitting also recorded increased business. “Compared with previous editions, the numbers of buyers coming to our booth has increased 30-40%,” Mr Leon Li, General Manager explained. “Many domestic and foreign customers expressed interest in cooperating with us, and some already placed orders. Many were from the US which is our target market.”
Product zones assist exhibitors to capture business in growing markets
To ensure the fair still provides opportunities for exhibitors, no matter the prevailing macroeconomic climate, the organisers have been focusing their efforts on key areas of demand in the local and Asian markets, which are currently denim, functional fabrics and sustainability. Exhibitors in these areas reported brisk trade, and that the product zones they were in were beneficial in attracting their target buyers. Denim exhibitor Orta Anadolu from Turkey was in the Beyond Denim area. “Absolutely, being part of Beyond Denim is effective for us,” Mr Ömer Murat Sözeri reported. “We were one of the busiest booths last edition and this time we’ve had the same experience, plus we’ve been able to meet more new customers and brands. There’s more potential still in China as an overseas company selling to local brands; it’s unlimited really.”
The All About Sustainability zone was once again well received by exhibitors and buyers alike. “This zone matches perfectly with our sustainability focus and with our products, so being part of this area really works for us. We’ve seen a lot of traffic here,” Head of Marketing & Sales for TESTEX, Mr Marc Sidler commented. “Certification is becoming more and more important in China, so there’s still demand here and it’s still growing. We are very positive that we can continue to grow.” Fellow industry heavyweights TÜV SÜD felt the same way about the zone. “This is a good platform for brand promotion, and the professionalism and number of buyers is the best amongst all textile fairs,” Mr Andy Liu, explained.
A relatively newer zone at the fair, the Functional Lab, was also successful. “This zone helps to clearly indicate what we are showcasing, so all the buyers who came to our booth had a very certain purpose and could find the right products from us,” Ms Katherine Cheung from Hong Kong’s Miutex Fabric Development, who were displaying functional fabrics for sportswear and yoga wear, outlined. “We successfully developed new business with buyers we met in the October fair last year, while most of the enquiries we received this time were from new buyers, such as domestic garment manufacturers and brands, as well as sportswear buyers from overseas. There is still strong potential and demand for our products despite the unstable economy, and this fair helps us as it attracts a broad variety of buyers from both China and overseas.”
Buyers mirror exhibitors’ appreciation of fair and positive industry outlook
Many of the buyers that attended this year’s fair shared a similar sentiment with exhibitors: the options on offer to them were of high quality and good variety, they weren’t too concerned about the economic situation, and with so much on offer, the product zones assisted them to find their target products more easily. “It’s definitely a good place to find new products and discover the latest industry trends,” Mr Matthias E. Schaefer, Managing Director, Walton HK Group from China described. “This fair is a must to attend, as while there are other big fairs in Europe and the US, only here do you have everyone coming together.” Mr John Connolly, Vice President, Operations and Supply Chain of Lion Brothers from the US was sourcing innovative fabrics. “We’ve been looking for a lot of new fabrics; things that are different that can help us in our next generation of products. I’ve found quite a few things that are promising, as well as some mills I can work directly with. You pick up a lot of ideas and new product trends here. And it’s very useful to have the different product zones and pavilions, as the products I’ve been looking for were mostly all in the same area.”
Italian buyer Mr Mario Talli Nencioni from Lps Studio was impressed with the quality of the Chinese suppliers. “I’m searching for high-quality linen and yarn, and have already found some that will be useful for my clients in Italy and across Europe. Besides, I’m also impressed by the variety of fabrics, especially in the International Hall. The show has become more international and the spectrum of fabrics is more comprehensive, but the setting of the fair, with different zones in different halls, has made it easier for us at the same time.”
Mr Karl Bartl, a designer from Australian firm Jack London was still positive about the industry’s prospects. “The economic uncertainty doesn’t affect my business much, and we are still buying here. This is absolutely one of the best textile fairs in Asia as I don’t need to guess the quality of the exhibitors here. Plus, this fair is well organised with different product zones and country pavilions. I like the overseas trend forum too, as I can learn the forecast of next year’s trends and get inspired.”
New panel discussions successful in assisting exhibitors to reach more buyers
As well as the overseas and domestic trend forums, the fair’s fringe programme also included a number of seminars and panel discussions. The latter were a new feature added to this edition, and were widely appreciated by buyers and exhibitors alike. “The panel discussion we participated in has provided us with great visibility in both the flax and linen sectors as well as other parts of the textile industry. The location of the panel is very interesting since it is open and positioned next to the trend forum, so many visitors stopped by,” Ms Thérèse Vu Xuan, Development Manager, European Flax commented. Long-term Chinese exhibitor Bros Eastern had also participated in the past, as well as again this year, and Mr Dingo Law, Marketing Manager explained: “Based on past experiences, there are usually more visitors coming to our booth after the presentation. Some of them wanted to know more about our service and some placed enquiries. Intertextile Shanghai is a perfect platform for us to introduce our new products every year, and the fair attracts many new buyers for us.”
In addition to the panel discussions, the seminars also proved useful for exhibitors to promote their products and attract new buyers. “We think the seminars are a good method to get more and more contacts since both ourselves and the fair organiser have invited a lot of brands to attend, so we get the opportunity to expand our business contact pool,” Ms Michela Bronzatti, Branch Manager, Idem srl ITALIAN FASHION DESIGN said. Diana Zhou, Design Director at Master Fashion also conducted a seminar and was happy with the results. “More and more customers know us through this seminar and we have seen very good promotional effects from it. Buyers visited our booth afterwards and raised a lot of questions.”
Intertextile Shanghai Apparel Fabrics – Spring Edition 2016 was co-organised by Messe Frankfurt (HK) Ltd; the Sub-Council of Textile Industry, CCPIT; and the China Textile Information Centre. Intertextile Shanghai Apparel Fabrics – Autumn Edition 2016 will take place from 11 – 13 October.