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China’s Market Slows, but New Business Still Booming

China’s economy may be slowing but interest in its market is hardly letting up.

This year’s spring edition of Intertextile Shanghai brought with it a host of new exhibitors, each eager to tap into China’s massive market.

Despite the downs China has experienced in recent years, Acorn Conceptual Textiles Ltd., a UK-based textile design studio felt now was a good time to exhibit.

“I think all markets are a challenge,” director Robert Weldon said. “But the important thing is to find new clients and new customers to work with and the only way to do that is to speculate.”

When Weldon came to Shanghai 12 years back, he said the market wasn’t quite ready for design studios, but interest has been on the upswing of late, particularly among Chinese customers. Buyers at the show expressed interest in Acorn’s designs, some closing sales on the spot.

Nix Co. came to the fair to find new customers, too. The Japanese design studio brought its original artwork, featuring trend-right florals and studio staple Japanese sakura, or cherry blossom prints.

Business at the booth was booming and the company already has plans to return to the October edition of the fair.

Cloth Collections, brought its original design work by way of Australia to the fair this year because it believes in China’s market potential. The company chose its more modern, Asian-inspired designs to bring along in the hopes of meeting Chinese local demand, and by the end of day one, things were looking good.

“We got a lot of inquiries, several serious buyers. We will definitely follow up and keep in touch and maybe we can get some serious orders,” sales manager William Wei said, adding that the company plans to return home with feedback for designers in order to be well prepared for another round of the fair. “It’s a good beginning for us,” Wei said.

Petchkasem Textile Cluster Association (PTCA), which works with the Kenan Institute Asia and represents roughly 30 companies from Thailand came to the fair for the first time to elevate the Thai offering, showcasing it to what PTCA president Piboon Manatpon called a very big, potentially lucrative Chinese market. The slowing economy posed little hindrance in the decision to exhibit.

The cluster’s handmade, hand-woven indigo-dyed textiles and garments resonated with buyers and the group is already thinking about expanding its booth at the next Intertextile Shanghai.

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“It’s still a big market, there millions of people here, you can’t ignore it,” Manatpon said in reference to China. “If this market fails, the whole world fails. There is no other place like this.”