There is no shortage of opinions when it comes to the tariff uncertainty surrounding the apparel industry, but many will agree on one thing: It’s jolted them awake to the importance and advantages of having a diversified supply chain.
While the full impact of tariffs on the industry is still unknown—and the outlook changes almost weekly—more manufacturers are taking proactive steps to explore the different solutions that are available.
Lululemon Athletica, for example, announced that tariff-fueled port congestions has led to the decision to air freight more goods to ensure timely delivery to customers, and Gap said it will continue to slash its China sourcing. Global trade stumbled this spring thanks to the tariff war between the U.S. and China, according to the CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis in The Hague, with a 0.7 percent drop in goods traded in April vs. the previous month. Analysts expected the declines to continue through the rest of the quarter.
Meanwhile, some retailers are trying to circumvent tariff impacts and price increases by stocking up on inventory, a practice that carries potentially negative consequences should the trade disputes be resolved. To be sure, the apparel and textile industries are operating in new and challenging times.
To respond to this evolving environment, the upcoming Functional Fabric Fair—powered by PERFORMANCE DAYS®—from Reed Exhibitions will feature a varied mix of exhibitors spanning a wide range of products and representing the entire production range. The show, being held in New York at the Jacob K. Javitz Center July 22-23, and at the Oregon Convention Center October 22-23, will offer a multitude of sourcing and collaboration possibilities, with a curated list of exhibitors spanning fabric, yarn and garment suppliers.
Following the gold standard of Munich’s PERFORMANCE DAYS® model, Reed Exhibitions has instituted a metric regulating the amount of companies from each geographic region in the world, capping the number from Asia, South America, Europe, the U.S. and Africa.
“No one region can be the majority at our event,” Stephen McCullough, Functional Fabric Fair event manager, confirmed to Sourcing Journal. “This allows exhibitors from around the world to have the opportunity to showcase their capabilities at our fair.”
This priority on diversification is shared with show attendees, who say the tariff instability is having them focus on areas other than China, such as Taiwan, Japan, Korea and Europe. The Functional Fabric Fair enables them to explore the different technologies other countries are developing, as well as have quality products brought to their radar from companies that they may have otherwise overlooked.
Marina Barnes, CEO of Racysuits, was impressed with the sourcing manufacturers at the first Functional Fabric Fair, including the companies from Italy, Switzerland and Taiwan. “It’s really great to meet them in person in a more intimate environment,” she noted.
“It’s the fair for functional fabric sourcing, exploring innovations and trends in fabric developments,” agreed Gus Harris, design and sourcing director at Mizzen and Main. “The choice of exhibitors, the organization and the program are very professional. In a familiar working atmosphere, you meet contacts from the sports and athleisure industry from the entire world.”
The PERFORMANCE FORUM area of the show features samples from all of the 100-plus exhibitors, classified into a number of categories that have been predetermined as being of interest to attendees. A jury represented by industry experts select the “best of the best,” which are then prominently displayed for attendees to have a hands-on experience with the latest developments in each category.
Attendees are also privy to unique educational content from internationally recognized influencers, helping them stay abreast of the latest market trends. They tell Sourcing Journal that they particularly appreciate the keynotes and panels—not to mention the summer timing of the show.
“Functional Fabric Fair is definitely the go-to show for performance fabrics,” said Alexandra Rivera, vice president of design at Li & Fung/Oxford Apparel. “It provides us with a great opportunity to meet existing and new suppliers in a focused environment. We also value the ability to receive updates on new performance trends and sustainability issues through the PERFORMANCE FORUM and speeches.”
Visit FunctionalFabricFair.com to learn more about the show.