More than 600 suppliers and 13,400 international visitors gathered on site for the first edition of Munich Fabric Start and Bluezone since February 2020. Thanks to a detailed Covid-compliant format, the trade show managed to stay close to its pre-pandemic schedule of panel discussions, trend presentations and networking opportunities.
“Our team is exhausted but overjoyed,” said Sebastian Klinder, Munich Fabric Start managing director, after the event. “The biggest challenge in our company’s history lies behind us.” Their efforts, he added, were rewarded with positive industry feedback.
“It seems as if the whole textile industry was cheering and so grateful to be able to experience a few hours of ‘business as usual’ again,” Klinder said.
Bluezone celebrated the return of in-person meetings with trend seminars led by Monsieur-T and ’80s-inspired artwork by Sphynx. Business, however, was top of mind, according to Frank Junker, Munich Fabric Start creative director. Trending topics include digital prototyping, circularity and ways the denim industry can introduce color and comfort to boost consumer interest.
“The denim industry is currently brimming with sustainable innovations and new developments, all of which were presented in Munich,” Junker said. “Now all we can say is that we are doing everything we can to repeat this success in the following season.”
The next Bluezone event is scheduled to take place Jan. 25-26, 2022, but first, attendees and exhibitors at the recent event share details about their show experience.
Salli Deighton, Responsible denim development specialist
Describe your show experience. Very positive, I think Sebastian and the Bluezone team did an incredible job to make everyone feel safe and welcome. It was a lot of organization, but the show ran seamlessly and we were all glad to be together again.
Why did you attend? I have been working on a collaboration with Naveena Denim Ltd. and it was the first time I have been able to meet with the team. It is so much easier to work on projects face to face and we managed to solve some issues quickly. I also work with Gas and was visiting a new supplier and seeing mills for the coming season. The mills have made a herculean effort to present fabrics over Zoom but there is nothing quite like touching denim. Bluezone provided the opportunity to meet denim friends again and be part of the community I have really missed over the last year. As freelancers, we work independently, and I didn’t realize how important my denim friends were for support, collaboration and motivation.
Did you meet the people and companies you had hoped to meet? Yes, it was perfect. I met all the key companies and mills I needed to see and met a few new and inspiring people, too. There were some excellent innovations from the mills, and I found the ranges more concise than previous fairs. I managed to find all I needed, and I worked in a more methodical manner to avoid excess and oversampling. Covid gave us all time reassess the way we work. I managed to do some work, but I must admit I was talking and listening far more than researching on this trip.
Did you feel safe at the show? I felt very safe. I was double vaccinated; we were checked thoroughly and there was a testing center on site. Masks were worn and every stand had sanitizer and felt clean. Germany is always very efficient and organized at events and the Bluezone team really went the extra mile to ensure our safety. Arriving back in the U.K. I couldn’t say the same with huge queues and no social distancing! No wonder the U.K. has had the most cases in Europe. It’s shameful.
Takeaway: Thank you to the Bluezone team for making the effort to make this fair happen and thank you for bringing my denim mojo back!
Adriana Galijasevic, Founder and CEO of Cocircular Lab
Describe your show experience. It was a unique opportunity to come together and exchange, which I always find inspiring.
Why did you attend? Meeting up with the broad textiles community, being able to touch and examine a wide spectrum of products in person and ask questions on the spot was something I missed.
Did you meet the people and companies you had hoped to meet? Although the show was not at its full capacity due to pandemic, the presence of exhibitors was diverse in terms of opportunities in connecting with new companies and in reconnecting with existing partners.
Did you feel safe at the show? Bluezone and the whole Munich Fabric Start environment, in general, felt very safe thanks to the combination of the daily testing checks, mandatory masks and enough space for safe distance keeping.
Takeaway: Thanks to the organizers for making this event possible during such uncertain times, it was energizing.
Paolo Gnutti, PG Denim CEO
Describe your show experience. It was a great emotion to finally be able to see many people from the denim community face to face. Being able to greet each other in person, discuss this crazy period and talk about the future has filled me with so much positive energy.
Why did you attend? It was a great message for our industry. We can start seeing each other again, discussing and no longer digitally but physically.
Did you meet the people and companies you had hoped to meet? Yes, I have seen all the brands I work with in Germany and beyond. I also made new contacts. I can only be satisfied with this important event.
Did you feel safe at the show? Very. The controls were ironclad, and everyone wore a mask. All of the staff was prepared and this allowed us to work calmly.
Takeaway: As always, it was an extremely serious and well-organized fair, but also a lot of fun. Our community is full of people who are extremely competent but also very nice and with a great desire to spend happy moments together.
Carlo Parisatto, Cadica CMO commercial director
Describe your show experience. Having the opportunity to work as a team with the entire Cadica staff and prepare for the fair together was very nice and stimulating. Moreover, the opportunity to show the collections to customers, to let them touch and feel the material and textures has given us a great boost that we’ve been lacking in recent times.
Why did you attend? Touching collections, perceiving customers reactions, and discussing new developments face to face was exciting and charged us with so much positivity.
Did you meet the people and companies you had hoped to meet? It’s always an important fair for the German market. The key clients were all present and we worked very well. We’re very happy.
Did you feel safe at the show? The controls were excellent and massive. We felt protected and worked in serenity.
Takeaway: I would like to thank all the Munich Fabric Start staff for the excellent organization, for believing in it and working in such a professional way. It is always a pleasure to work with them.
Silvia Rancani, The Denim Window founder
Describe your show experience. Overwhelming! You realize how much you missed meeting people in person and to touch fabrics and garments. You can do a lot online nowadays but the experience in person is irreplaceable.
Why did you attend? The first physical show couldn’t be missed. Also, I’ve always been a supporter of Bluezone—coming to Munich was a must do.
Did you meet the people and companies you had hoped to meet? I have to say that I saw even more people than what I was expecting. To see both exhibitors and visitors traveling from the U.S., Turkey, The Netherlands, France, Italy and the U.K. was really a positive surprise.
Did you feel safe at the show? I felt safe. People were strictly following the protocols, and everyone was wearing a mask. There was also a covid testing center organized by the exhibition where you can take a test for free.
Takeaway: Overall, I had a great time meeting with people I know in the denim world. Somehow after covid we are even closer [and have a bigger] desire to share and collaborate.
Lucia Rosin, Meidea founder and head of design
Describe your show experience. I was happy to see a lot of friends and talk to them in person. It is different to feel their vibrant emotions and [share] empathy.
Why did you attend? We all need a restarting of business; this event was a brave action.
Did you meet the people and companies you had hoped to meet? Yes, being together gave everybody great energy. Personally, and as part of the Meidea team, I received positive [feedback] and new connections.
Did you feel safe at the show? The fair was very well organized. The safety rules were respected by everyone, so the protection from covid was guaranteed.
Takeaway: We thank the organization; they trusted our project The Circle Book and they actively supported us. We enjoyed our time at Bluezone.
Tilmann Wrobel, Monsieur-T. founder and creative director
Describe your show experience. It was emotional meeting and seeing all these people I hadn’t physically met since the start of covid. The first day when the doors opened was especially emotional. I am convinced that there is a true family spirit in our denim industry. And it proves how important physical meetings are whether it is for fabric, product, trend, design or simple networking.
Why did you attend? Because it’s the best way to feel what’s going on in the industry, to get information and to spread positive energy, to simply do our job like we did it before while taking in[to] account what we have learned from the pandemic.
Did you meet the people and companies you had hoped to meet? Yes, most definitely. Of course, there could be always more but the two days were filled with appointments, meetings and seminars.
Did you feel safe at the show? Yes, totally safe. The health controls were strict and provided a safe feeling. Plus, I am two times vaccinated and still did the covid tests on site.
Takeaway: I wish there would be a third day to be able to do more and meet more people from the industry.
Andrea Venier, Officina+39 managing director
Describe your show experience. It made us feel like human beings again. We were able to revive our five senses. Living emotions allows you to think about new products, developments, new challenges. Fashion is emotion. It was great to meet the denim community physically after a long time.
Why did you attend? We’re facing the most challenging time globally since World War II. But we need to consider this time as a big opportunity. We are all aware that fashion must change, and Covid-19 has accelerated this. Attending and meeting with people at Bluezone has been a positive because despite the difficulties, the industry continues to produce innovations, collaborations and new initiatives.
Did you meet the people and companies you had hoped to meet? We met many people and companies. Unfortunately, some missed the show for various reasons. But it was important for our company to come. We had the chance to accelerate some projects that were on hold due to the pandemic.
Did you feel safe at the show? I always felt safe, thanks to the Bluezone and Munich Fabric Start team. We saw really their big effort and commitments on that. This is a demonstration that we can organize activities and strictly follow rules and recommendations.
Takeaway: I hope the denim community can meet again soon and that this type of event will return.
Aydan Tuzun, Naveena Denim Mills executive director of sales and marketing
Describe your show experience. It was very exciting to be at a physical show after two years. Reuniting with customers, colleagues and friends from all over the world was very moving. I think the fact that it was the first physical show after the onset of the pandemic has been a factor for many of us to decide to attend. We wanted to get together.
Why did you attend? It is very important to meet customers face-to-face and to be able to show the product’s hand feel. We have been all communicating digitally for one-and-a-half years. It has also been great, thanks to advances in technology, but real human contact will always offer something else.
Did you meet the people and companies you had hoped to meet? We had the opportunity to meet with the brands we expected. I think the number of visitors was less compared to previous seasons, but most of the visitors were brands that mills wanted to see.
Did you feel safe at the show? Yes, I felt safe. Every precaution was taken, and everyone was following the rules.
Takeaway: I hope we will meet again in January!
Francesca Polato, Berto marketing manager
Describe your show experience. The overall feeling was good. We have been really happy to be out and to see our clients in person.
Why did you attend? It was important to attend because the exhibition gave us the possibility to see clients and to talk with them face to face. In the last period it was difficult to travel and to visit clients, so the exhibition gave us this important possibility.
Did you meet the people and companies you had hoped to meet? Yes, we had the visit of our most important German clients. And also some new clients.
Did you feel safe at the show? We felt safe thanks to the fact that the rules of entrance were strict, we were all vaccinated or tested.
Takeaway: Really good to be there and hope that things will be better and better in the future!