January 30, 2014

NY Tradeshow Roundup Spring/Summer 2015

Despite the winter storms and dropping temperatures, we made it to all the apparel fabric tradeshows here in NY. This year we did not only confirm the seasonal colours and fabric trends but we sought after the most innovative fabrics that meet our demand for comfort in our ever evolving lifestyles.

Premier Vision NY and Indigo are the first to open up each season for fabric trade shows worldwide, which gives us a great advantage point. This Spring Summer ‘15 show offered a broad selection of exhibitors showcasing their latest designs and styles to a large customer base which generated a steady flow of attendees.

The most predominant colours were shades of blue tones including everything from indigo, cobalt, and mint to light blue with a continuation into greens of sea foam, teal, and moss. Yellow ranged from citrus to soft pastel shades to a warm mimosa yellow. Candy colours continued to be strong in pale and muted tones along with natural colours which all enhances the brights.

Femininity rules in transparent fabrics, delicate constructed laces, eyelet, tulles and webbed like elements, sheers, transparency effects, sheens, sparkles, pearlescent sheens across knits and wovens. In prints we saw tribal, flowers from dense to open designs, watercolour influences, tropicals, fresh vertical stripes (mostly in knits), textured fabrics in either graphic, linear or circular patterns, and mostly tone on tones to offset the feminine mood. Sportswear fabrics were key in neoprene, nylons, scuba materials, mesh, imprinted, and embossed.

Our picks for the most innovative exhibitors are:

Based in Japan, Mitsubishi Rayon Group is the sole manufacturer of tri-acetate fibre Soalon ™ which provides water absorbency, quick dry, and lightweight properties to womenswear. With these fibres, garments can be machine washed on gentle cycle and ironed. So far such well known brands like Balenciaga, Lanvin, Haute Hippe, DVF, Tori Burch, Tara Jarmon, Miu Miu, Max Mara, and Banana Republic are already working with Soalon.

Established in Istanbul in 1970 with a mere two weaving looms, Ozdoku has significantly grown to specialize in structured wovens and performance fabrics like double faced cotton, poly-blends, stretch and satin finishes. These properties create a nice, comfortable hand which has been purchased by companies like Club Monaco, Express, Chicos, and White House Black Market in the past.

photo via Prints of Orange

At Indigo we would like to mention an outstanding company that we came across called Prints of Orange. This textile design studio is based in Connecticut and represents numerous designers from around the globe that delivers a range of original and trend driven designs for the fashion, home furnishings, accessories and paper goods industries.

From paint splatters, smudges, butterflies, and watercolor themes in light pastels to geometric hand printed florals in white, blue, or black, the designs from Prints of Orange all reflected a shift towards artistic, abstract notions. Digital influences continued by altering hand painted prints and realistic knitwear designs. Overall, lines were super fine and mirrored effects, specifically in embroidered prints stood out. However, the most popular prints were contrasted against white backgrounds.

Next on our trade show circuit was of course the most innovative denim and sportswear fabric show, The Kingpins Show. While Kingpins continues to expand globally by adding Amsterdam to its roster in May, the show has maintained its neighborly, intimate setting that we've all grown to love. 

The Kingpins tradeshow was held in a great space called the Tunnel and despite a major snowstorm, the show was absolutely packed. The interior was made up of brick walls and unlike past seasons, the whole exhibition was on one floor. We loved the presentation in the entrance where various denim pieces were on display. This year, the invite-only Kingpins show celebrated 9.5 years and the exhibitors and buyers were just as excited to be a part of it as ever.

At Invista, we discussed the importance of merging activewear and fashion. Pioneers like Nike and Adidas are now integrating technical qualities into denim to give it more diverse value. This performance denim now has Thermolite ® to keep the wearer dry and warm during cold weather, Coolmax ® to keep you cool and dry,  and Toughmax ™ which withstands the rigor of every day active life in a normal weight. And, by adding Lycra, it creates extra comfort.

While visiting Cotton Inc, we were walked through their various products, one we would like to mention specifically called storm denim.  This new innovation combines performance with design in a woven fabric and also offers breathable water repellent protection. 

We also had an interesting conversation with Armin Sachathrep, Director of AMC, who along with Viresh Varma from ADL/Arvind confirmed that Coolmax is not yet perfected like its counterpart heat tech. Coolmax still has too much of a polyester feeling. According to Varma, a lot of customers are showing interest in this performance technology in denim but since the hand is not very soft yet buyers really aren't going for it.

Kurabo Denim carries premium denim from Japan and offers performance denim that creates warmth called Thermal (81% Cotton, 11% Acrylic, 7%Cupra, 1% Spandex). For cold fibers, they use Xylithol a natural chemical, used in chewing gum. With a mill in China and a spinning mill in Thailand, they are able to provide premium denim at a more competitive price point.

Our final stop was Texworld where exhibitors were extremely happy to see a steady flow of buyers especially since the weather was much less harsh on the second day! Overall, the trade shows this week were much slower than usual due to the polar vortex conditions.

Of course we headed to the trend forum first. The set up was very well done and the fabrics were organized by color schemes, which was very refreshing. The themes for each trend were well illustrated and created an easily read story. Pretty much all of what we saw overlapped with PV and further confirmed our S/S 2015 predictions.

photo via Tradegood

As the match-making partner of Texworld USA, Tradegood, is a B2B sourcing community that connects responsible buyers with trusted suppliers from around the world and works to facilitate the buyer's experience. At the show, all participants could partake in the complimentary service by filling out an application during the registration process and once the application is received, Tradegood finds suitable suppliers onsite that complement the buyers' specifications.

With a drastic increase in fashion performance functionality in the last 4 years, Hyperbola is committed to outdoor, fashion, and casual fabrics. Their 3D embossed foam fabric is doing really well in the activewear arena because it's all about combining fashion and function to address the unpredictable weather patterns. The performance fabrics they carry are: Anti-bacteria, Anti-UV temperature changing fabrics, really new technical materials that change colours according to heat. For instance, in cold climates, fabrics turn into a grey metallic foil material to protect heat.

 photo via MBF Trend Consulting

Toray is a manufacturer and fabrics sourcing company that has seen athletic wear cross over to fashion apparel and the other way around. Printing on nylon has become a fast growing trend that is becoming very popular for down jackets as well as microfiber products that are soft and lightweight.

From the most technical, high performance fabric qualities to abstract, watercolor inspired prints, and blue hues from dark to light, we are seeing more of a balance between high fashion and activewear influences. Our lives are more demanding than ever and with that, grows a need for fabrications that are durable, weather adapting, and of course, comfortable. 

January 23, 2014

American Beauty

We have been following the Made in the USA movement since early 2012 and this year, it's beginning to really reach its peak. Due to the recent tragedies in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Haiti, larger more established companies are linking up with new and innovative ones who are specifically geared towards a Made in America mentality.

video via Manufacture NY

One of our favorite organizations, Manufacture NY has collaborated with Texworld USA to connect independent designers with exhibitors who offer smaller minimums, eco-friendly textiles, and domestic sourcing. Manufacture NY's mission is to "reawaken and rebuild" the fashion industry by fostering the next wave of creative talent all while remaining transparent and sustainable. Their headquarters are based right in the Garment District and furnished with sampling rooms, classrooms, conference rooms, fitting rooms, computer stations, and already in use by over dozens of local designers and members. According to the founder Bob Bland, "The fashion loving public is embracing Made in the USA and it has become a major selling point." They have already started promoting for Fashion Week as they partner with retailer Adorama who specializes in photo shoot equipment rentals, to produce a state-of-the-art runway experience.

video via Ecouterre

Most recently we attended the event, Made in the USA Founder Forum 2014, organized by Manufacture NY that hosted a panel of experts including the co-founders of Maker's Row. This online marketplace introduces American manufacturers to businesses and has literally broken down transparency into a 6 step process, from sketch to production. And now, they are taking it to the schools to help emerging designers understand the know-how of manufacturing so they will have the choice to either work for Fortune 500 companies or build their own brands. Not to mention, they have teamed up with Cotton Inc to gain more insight about cotton growth as well as to connect textile firms with US cotton growers.

As this enthusiasm for Made in America continues to gain popularity across the US and consumers make it clear that there is a demand, retailers like Brooks Brothers and Walmart are finally seeing the value in promoting locally made products. With that said, the advantages are pretty obvious – lower shipping costs and weather adaptable production – which is why, preserving the Garment District has become such a powerful cause. Ralph Lauren is just one of the major fashion houses supporting NY garment manufacturers by contributing to the Fashion Manufacturing Initiative, a partnership between the CFDA and Andrew Rosen to help grow and sustain existing factories within the five boroughs.

photo via Made In NYC

Since NYC is home to almost 7,000 small factories, producing everything from pianos to fashion to food, printing, and furnishings, there's also Made In NYC, a project of the Pratt Center for Community Development. This organization not only caters to manufacturers but also consumers who can shop local products, learn about emerging designers, promote sustainability, and even create jobs. In the end, for any city to be fully sustainable, local manufacturing is a crucial component and with so many bustling industries, NYC has an undeniable potential to live up to.

photo via fashionista.com

Nanette Lepore, who is a major advocate for saving the Garment District is just one of the many designers committed to the diversity and craftsmanship sitting right here in midtown. Most recently, she's caught the eye of new Mayor, Bill de Blasio by dressing his wife, Chirlane McCray and daughter at his NYC inauguration. In a statement made by McCray, "Chiara and I are proud to be wearing this beautiful clothing today, that was made right here in New York City. This city needs more creative entrepreneurs like Nanette Lepore who are committed to keeping our city's garment industry thriving."

video via Flint and Tinder

Flint and Tinder, who just launched a new shirt and slack line called "Perfect Flannel," is another US made brand you need to know about. If that's not enough to win you over, all their products have a 100% quality guarantee, including their 10-year hoodie and locally made men's underwear line.

Even the shoe pioneer New Balance is on a crusade to produce the first fully American made sneaker. While about a quarter of their shoes are already labeled "Made in the USA," they still contain components made overseas so let the challenge begin!

Whether you've already jumped on the Made in the US bandwagon or not, there are a ton of brands made right here that you may not even realize, and this is just the start. 

January 16, 2014

Thinking Forward to S/S 2015

Spring/Summer 2015 represents the season of forward thinking. So progressive in fact that it has taken many of the tried and true trends from last Fall and reinterpreted them into a lighter, more minimal aesthetic. The industry is finally learning to evolve with the current pace of the world, from technology to globalization to consumer behavior. Now that we know what works, we can really focus on developing design and functionality to make what we wear the best it can be. This by no means suggests a stop to experimentation but instead we've become interested in advancing fabrication standards, fit customizations, and of course, the overall construction and appeal of what we are wearing.

Liquid fabrics, bare midriffs, tons of transparency, and a renewed 90's minimalism really set the ambience for the latest Fashion Week extravaganza. While florals and tribal references definitely ruled the runway, athletic influences are modernized by cool approach to layering and tennis inspired uniforms. Despite all the cropped tops, things remain modest with classic menswear tailoring in soft feminine fabrications. From an airy elegance to a strong desire for nonconformity, punk rock inspired glamour lives on in fluid fabrics and iridescent tones. grunge and punk continue as does the new age gypsy but both taking casual to eclectic. Pants are wider and looser with even culottes making a comeback. Abstract marble swirls, bold tropical florals, brand logos and sayings, and an artistic movement from the street to the gallery lead print directions. Details like sequins, fringe, feathers, and crystals revamp the ordinary.

If Orchid is the color of 2014, it is without a doubt that blue will reign next year as purples and greys get watery accents. From cobalts to mint, turquoise, navy, indigo, and sky blue, this the most predominant colour direction for the S/S 2015 season. Not to mention, reds get pinker, candy colours brighter, brights deepen, and pastels neutralize. White stands strong yet again as the prevailing palette cleanser and represents minimalism in its purest form.

So without further ado, here is our Spring/Summer 2015 teaser. For the full report, please email: contact@mbf-trend-consulting.com.

January 9, 2014

Athletic Hype

Well it's a New Year and you know what that means...a rise in gym memberships as people strive to fulfill their annual resolutions to get fit. Not only will the gyms be packed these first few weeks of January, but we've been having a lot of mainstream conversations concerning athletic wear. It's now a lifestyle more than ever, especially as fashion and fitness begin to merge.

Over the past few seasons, things have been getting much more active, especially with the most recent Spring/Summer 2014 shows. From sneakers on the runway at DKNY to tennis influences at Lisa Perry and Tommy Hilfiger's scuba fabrications, this sporty attitude is getting us hyped up. All you have to do is look around and you'll notice the influx of technical fabrications in clothing, people interchanging their wardrobes from gym to work and back again, and the onset of athletic gear influences hitting Hollywood like in "The Hunger Games." Everyone has fitness on the brain and the industry is catching on to the craze as well.

photo via NY Daily News

It's not only on the runway but hitting mass market retailers as well like H&M with their new activewear collection. The fast fashion mega-giant has announced that it will be dressing the Swedish Olympic and Paralympic teams at the fast approaching 2014 Winter Games as well as the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2015.

photo via NY Times

In other news, the cutting-edge brand, Under Armor is planning to open its first NYC location early this year in SoHo, which will also be its largest store to date. This neighborhood is really heating up especially with the already existing Adidas, Sweaty Betty, Athletica, and Lululemon shops. In addition, rumors have been circulating about the opening of a Niketown which would really create some competition. 

video via Nike

As far as the marriage between fashion and athletics goes, it all stems from the obvious: wearable technology. Nike leads the pack with the introduction of its Fuelband SE that measures your whole body's movement to give you better insight into how active your everyday life is. This innovative limited addition gadget nearly sold out following the most recent holiday season. And with the launch of Samsung's Galaxy Gear smart watch, Google Glass, and of course, Burberry's former CEO moving to Apple, who knows what the future will bring.

photo via ft.com

So whether you're into the athletic thing or not, fashion is proving that fitness is an important aspect of our current lifestyle. Wearable technology is getting smarter as new applications allow us to track and predict behaviors via clothing, watches, and footwear. What we wear tells says a lot about who we are already, but with these new innovations, we will learn how to live both fashionably and healthy. 
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