Sustainability tops the agenda

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 March, 2010, 12:00am

Sustainability continues to be the main focus of this year's edition of the Interstoff Asia Essential-Spring fair. 'The trend of mixing fashion and functional textiles with sustainability is growing fast,' says Wendy Wen, director of trade fairs at Messe Frankfurt.

The fair will be held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from tomorrow to Friday, with the number of exhibitors more than doubling from last year's 163. This will be the highest tally in the past four years.

Three out of four country pavilions, Japan, Taiwan and the mainland, will boast significant increases in exhibitors, with a 30 per cent rise in eco-suppliers.

New exhibitors include global conservation body WWF, BKS Textiles from India and the mainland's Skytex.

Wen says the increase in exhibitors is unexpected, especially during an uncertain period for the industry.

'We understand that it is important for companies to promote themselves and obtain the latest trends and industry information at the fair, but times have been tough, so we are pleasantly surprised by the increase in the number of exhibitors.'

To emphasise the importance of sustainability in fashion, 'Planet Textile', a conference co-organised by Ecotextile News, Messe Frankfurt and the Society of Dyers and Colourists (SDC), will be set up on the second day for innovative textile companies to share their latest eco-textile initiatives and for suppliers to showcase their newest products.

Eleven speakers from international companies - including brands Patagonia and adidas Group from the United States; manufacturers Lenzing from Austria and Fountain Set from Hong Kong; retailer KIK from Germany; industry associations Sustainable Fashion Business Consortium Hong Kong, RITE Group from Britain, the China National Textile and Apparel Council; NICE from Norway; and chemical company Huntsman from Switzerland - will be participating.

There will also be a Designer's Studio called EcoChic Hong Kong Exhibition by Green2greener, featuring sustainable eco-couture and sustainable ready-to-wear garments created by designers from around the world.

Each of the garments displayed are created and selected by Green2greener and have been shown on runways around Asia and Europe in Green2greener's touring sustainable fashion shows called EcoChic.

Sustainability is one of the hottest topics in the industry. However, it comes with a price. 'Using sustainable methods and materials are more costly than the traditional methods and materials. However, companies are still taking on the more eco-friendly route as it is an added-value for society and most buyers are also getting more and more concerned about the organic and natural factors as well when buying clothes,' Wen says.

Seminar designs and trends, and functional textiles will be held on the first day and the last day respectively. There will be 22 speakers for all the seminars in the fair. For exhibits, there will be 12 product groups, including basic fabrics, novelty fabrics, fibres and yarns, functional fabrics, eco-textiles, innovative fibres and yarns, textile design, trend forecast and trend publication, CAD/CAM, accessories, garment products and fashion design/styling services.

Exhibitors say they chose this fair because of the quality of the buyers.

'Most of the buyers come to Interstoff to source for products, unlike in some fairs where there are visitors who walk around and look without any buying,' says Dixon Chow, sales manager of Practical International Trading.

Emmy Yu, sales manager of Firstextile, an exhibitor, agrees and says she expects the fair visitors to be 'professional'.