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Behind the Scenes at Bluezone

With 110 denim-related exhibitors, Bluezone presents one of the strongest denim lineups worldwide and an impressive range of novel styles, fabrics and finishes. The international trade show will take place in Munich Sept. 5-7.

For the first time, Bluezone will take place all three days of Munich Fabric Start, the international trade fair for fabrics and accessories. Bluezone New Business Manager Panos Sofianos points out that the growing interest in the trade fair demonstrates how important education and innovation is for creatives and decision-makers in the fashion industry. “At each Munich Fabric Start and Bluezone there are new exhibitors who provide new input, present specialties and focus on individuality,” he said. “This is so typical of each new event, but also what makes each trade fair surprising and exciting.”

This season, the show enhances its offerings with the launch of installations like the MicroFactory at Keyhouse, where attendees can experience Industry 4.0 in a live demonstration, The Infinite, a concept focused on season-less designs and the Denim Club, a hub for expert talks and workshops.

At its core, Sofianos said the trade fair stands by its commitment to present innovations and newness to industry professionals. “This passion and ambition gives Munich its special flair,” he said. “The exhibitors’ high demand and constantly rising visitor attendance confirm the importance of Munich Fabric Start as one of the world’s leading trade fairs for fabrics and additionals, with Bluezone as the key platform for denim and sportswear.”

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Rivet spoke to Sofianos about the upcoming industry event, denim’s influence over other categories and the steps mills are taking (and need to take) to become more sustainable.

RIVET: A recent report indicates that U.S. denim sales are rebounding. What is the denim industry doing right and what can it improve?
Sofianos: Denim is a strong and determining indicator for developments in the apparel industry as a whole. The impact of denim on trends and directions has increased enormously. This market is highly susceptible to innovations and novel technologies and provides fresh impulses for the whole fashion market. The prime task of all parties involved is to make distribution channels more transparent and to examine the prevailing oversupply of goods more closely. [Companies] must build confidence and disclose who performs which functions and tasks in this dynamic market.

RIVET: This season a lot of denim mills are introducing new ways to reduce water usage. Why water?
Sofianos: Water is a limited and vital resource that must not be used wastefully. The global disasters and images of people in need have been an indication of this for a long time. We are aware of the problem of over-population and the resulting food scarcity, which entails major disasters in large areas of Africa. Now the industry has started using low-water processes, but we are far from reaching the optimum. There is room for improvement and awareness is rising. We are on the right track.

The industry has already been preoccupied with the careful handling of resources for quite some time now. At Bluezone and Munich Fabric Start, in general, this topic is omnipresent. Weaving mills have developed outstanding technologies and processes for a more environment-saving production—be it material consumption, manufacturing technology or environment-friendly dyeing and finishing techniques.

RIVET: What are some of the important trends in denim weights, finishes and fabrications for the season?
Sofianos: There is currently an excellent range of new versatile and high-quality fabrics. Moreover, we are entering a season of extremes. Anything goes! Everything is possible and nothing is a must. This is reflected by both ultra-lightweight denims with a wool touch and heavy-duty denim categories. Or, look at the denims blended with silk and with functional stretch plus excellent climate control properties. We are facing times of fundamental change—very exciting time. [Be] ready to accept something new and to tolerate contrasts.

RIVET: Is interest growing in non-denim woven arena?
Sofianos: Denim is just one part of a comprehensive fabric portfolio—albeit an important one—especially when it comes to the young, sporty and progressive market. However, there are also innovative and forward-looking fabrics beyond denim. Just think of all the outstanding performance fabrics, fabrics based on natural resources and fabrics that offer added value or smart technology.

Munich Fabric Start has recognized outstanding achievements in this area with the Hightex Award presented for three seasons now. With Keyhouse as a competence and innovation center, we have created a central forum to present smart textiles, high-tech innovations and revolutionary process engineering. Creativity and innovation should never be limited to just one product area.