Some people will tell you that Lululemon led the rise of athleisure in the U.S., but Koreans have long staked their claim on starting the trend in the first place. So it makes sense that this week’s Korean Preview in New York (KPNY) featured an area focused on functional fabrics for the first time ever.
“We did athleisure before Americans did it. People actually wear mountain sports gear like The North Face just walking around in the street,” Eric Cheon, strategy consultant at KOTRA (Korea-Trade Investment Promotion Agency), said. “Fortunately in America right now athleisure is really big so it’s perfect timing to have a functional fabrics section.”
That’s not all KPNY brought to the table. Sixty-two exhibitors (up from 55 last year) are participating in this round of the textile trade show, now in its 20th edition, taking place July 13-14 at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City. In addition to functional fabrics, designers and sourcing specialists can also browse Fall/Winter 2017 collections in four other categories: knits, embroidery/lace, prints/findings/trims, and cotton/linen/denim/wool/silk/rayon.
“This is the first time we actually divided the exhibitors by product category. Now we have enough exhibitors that we can actually categorize them,” Cheon explained.
Another highlight: a Trend Forum presented by D2 (Designers of 2nd Generation), reflecting key Fall/Winter 2017 colors and trends and featuring several athleisure looks created using fabrics from participating exhibitors.
On hand to welcome show attendees Wednesday morning were Patricia Field, the Emmy-winning costume designer of iconic TV show “Sex and the City,” and Fern Mallis, founder of Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week.
“I have had an ongoing relationship with the Korean fashion industry,” Field said. “I would say that from the very beginning I was impressed by the amount of energy, interest and work on the part of the Korean people, as well as the support from various organizations… The result [of the show] can only be positive.”
“I’m very happy to be here to support all of my pals from Korea, all of the terrific designers, textile vendors and all of the good, extraordinarily creative fashion players in Korea,” Mallis offered. “I’m very proud of what they’re all doing there and to share this exciting work with everyone in New York and America.”