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Blueprint Brings a Boutique-Feel to the Trade Show Circuit

Blueprint, the new denim expo organized by Blueprint Denim Washhouse Owner Bill Curtin, wrapped up Thursday in New York City’s Meatpacking District. The two-day event hosted 10 exhibitors including Calik, Orta and Mount Vernon, and saw attendees come from major New York City-based brands.

The show was decidedly edited, placing a spotlight on mills that don’t regularly attend trade shows, and on interactive features including a denim finishing instruction area and a “Made In NYC” space, which Curtin said resulted in new job opportunities for independent pattern makers.

“Lots of sampling was done on paper and interactively in the hands-on denim finishing area,” Curtin said.
He added, “The exhibitors loved the intimate format and direct customer involvement. They also liked that they could show the entire line in a relaxed environment. Visitors were attentive and not distracted or overwhelmed.”

At the show, Orta continued to see interest in its stretch fabrications, and used the show as a platform to explain its new vegan denim concept. Grandtex General Manager Albert Tjandra noted an uptick in its selvedge product, but said buyers were still looking for high stretch and power stretch fabrications with spun polyester, “like a performance fabric.”

Tina Agustina, sales manager for Tyfontex, said 100 percent Tencel fabrications and knit-like denim remain popular for A/W 16-17. The mill also sees coatings pick up, especially with knit garments sprayed to have a leather look and feel.

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For Georgia-based Mount Vernon, which doesn’t typically attend New York City shows, Blueprint was an opportunity to gain exposure among smaller brands. Dale McCollum, Mount Vernon vice president of merchandising, denim fabrics said the company wasn’t expecting to “do business” at the show, but said attendees were interested in the mill’s men’s stretch stories for A/W 16-17.

“Stretch isn’t even about comfort anymore,” McCollum said, noting that it is becoming a mainstay in all types of men’s denim cuts—even if male consumers don’t know it. “A lot of brands don’t call it out that their product has stretch, but it is there,” he added.

Momo Oshima, Itochu’s manager of denim and women’s apparel, said buyers were drawn to “soft looking constructions” and materials that had a fluid hand. The mill also bowed its first collection of E.N.D. by Edwin denim. The men’s line consists of sleek, sophisticated denim, which Oshima said pays homage to the mill’s Japanese roots.

Overall, Curtin said he was pleased with the positive feedback from both attendees and exhibitors. The best comment Curtin said he heard from a visitor was how the show did not consume their entire day. “They could attend the show and have time in the office. The exhibitor base was a great representation of their needs. It was intimate and productive.”

The next Blueprint is scheduled for Dec. 15, 2015.