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Players in Europe’s Denim Industry Reacquaint in Milan and Munich

As U.S. trade shows turn to digital events, a number of physical events began to take place in Europe in recent weeks.

Around 3,600 national and international visitors from 30 countries gathered at Fabric Days from Sept. 1-3 to view and showcase new concepts for Fall/Winter 21-22. The consolidated version of Munich Fabric Start and Bluezone was a first look at the season for many as previously scheduled trade events like Premiere Vision and Kingpins have been canceled and supplemented by digital shows.

Among the 1,300 visiting companies at the trade fair were brands such as Drykorn, Alberto, Hugo Boss, Vetements and Mustang. Organizers took special precautions to keep guests safe by widening aisles and digitizing the check-in process.

“Due to the pandemic, no one could tell what the visitor frequency would be like at the fair,” said Frank Junker, Munich Fabric Start creative director. “So, we are all the happier that an unexpectedly large number of designers, product managers and buyers travelled to Munich to explore over 700 collections from 300 international suppliers.”

Under the show’s theme “Hopetimism,” the condensed group of exhibitors was spread out across six areas: fabrics, additionals, denim and sportswear, innovation, design studios and sourcing. Bossa, Europa, Evlox, Prosperity Textile, Sharabati Denim, Tejidos Royo, Velcorex, Van Delden and the new entry Bartateks Tekstil as well as accessories suppliers like Altero and Piovese, were among the denim-focused exhibitors.

Denim mills, trim suppliers and influential women in the denim industry gather at Fabric Days in Germany and Milan Unica in Italy.
Trims at Fabric Days Courtesy

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In line with current events, Bluezone curator Panos Sofianos said textile brands presented denim developments with a focus on protection, health care and sustainability.

Evlox, for example, presented a bacteria-free denim. Bossa introduced a new generation of sustainable denims with the D-Chronicles concept, a collaboration between Bossa and Fibretrace that promotes transparency, trust and traceability within the supply chain.

Prosperity Textile showed hemp denims as material innovation. And Tejidos Royo presented its latest innovation Dry Black, a black denim based on the Dry Indigo technology that uses a unique foam dyeing process to color yarns using zero water.

“Besides this, our trend forum featured various new concepts and innovations dedicated to our ‘hopetimistic’ future,” Sofianos said.

Although the ongoing developments of Covid-19 continue to challenge the denim and trade show industry in Europe and on a global scale, Sofianos described the mood at the show as positive and optimistic.

“Exhibitors and fashion brands alike were very happy and enthusiastic to finally meet in person again,” he said. “Our efforts to bring the industry together again at a real physical event were greatly appreciated—especially because of the product novelties.”

Noting the tactility of denim and other fabrics, Sofianos said players in the industry were eager to touch and see new fabric innovation in real life versus on a screen.

Munich Fabric Start is moving forward with planning its next shows View Premium Selection Dec. 8-9, 2020 and Munich Fabric Start Jan. 26-28, 2021.

“We been approached by many exhibitors and visitors who thanked us for the opportunity and taking the courageous decision to make a real event happen again,” Sofianos said. “Likewise, we want to thank all participants of the show for their great contribution and their discipline in following and considering the safety and hygiene measures. This joint effort made Fabric Days possible after all.”

The following week at the apparel trade show Milano Unica, The Women In Denim, the global industry group that represents women across the denim supply chain, hosted nine women from Italy’s denim sector for a roundtable conversation.

The Women In Denim president Lucie Germser and Barbara Gnutti, CEO of EFFE-BI SRL, opened the conversation by presenting data that showed the wage gap between women and men.

Denim mills, trim suppliers and influential women in the denim industry gather at Fabric Days in Germany and Milan Unica in Italy.
The Women In Denim panel at Milan Unica Courtesy

During the roundtable, Alice Tonello of Tonello shared her journey from working as a switchboard operator to leading the technology firm’s marketing and R&D departments. Pepe Jeans London head men’s designer Daria Martelli urged companies to invest in education and cultural training as ways to break cliches about women’s place in industries such as denim. Cadica Group chief operating officer Martina Caselli shared how having a female mentor at the company positively affected her career.

The panel concluded with speakers sharing how they hope The Women In Denim association will help women become aware and build a better future for the next generations.

“In my opinion, The Women In Denim association gives us the opportunity to create a powerful and dynamic network that will redeem the belief that women struggle to collaborate in a constructive way,” Martelli said.