When The Materials Show opens this spring in both Wilmington, Mass., and Portland, Ore., thousands of buyers from coast-to-coast will walk the shows in search of everything they need in materials, technology, and components for footwear and performance apparel. With supplies and sales reps from around the world, the shows are an ideal location for global and U.S. trend watching, and a microcosm of the state of footwear and apparel today.
Outdoor and performance have taken off in the past few years, and more and more buyers are looking for materials that have function as well as form. The rise of performance materials is due in part to the global sportswear market, which saw continued growth between 2011 and 2016, reaching $280 billion in 2016, according to Euromonitor International.
American brands dominate the worldwide sportswear market, with the United States representing 37 percent of global sales, or $103 billion in 2016, with the following break-down: 70 billion for sportswear (+4.4 percent) and 32 billion for shoes (+8.8 percent). The footwear market has always had a strong athletic and performance drive, but there has been a rise in fashion, technological, and outdoor materials on the trade show floor to match the rise in the market. Materials offer more stretch, durability, protective and thermal qualities, and marry function with style.
This is exactly what buyers like Joanne Stetson are looking for. As director of materials for Ariat International, Stetson says: “This show always presents so much athletic and performance materials, I find it exciting to see how we can weave athletic materials into our product line. We look at our boot wearers as athletes, so it is appropriate. We focus on textiles, no-sew solutions and synthetics. I love bringing back new materials that have some new technological, performance or sustainable application to show the teams to inspire us.”
Kelli George, material innovation manager, footwear materials at Adidas, has a number of trends on her watch list. “Two biggest ones would be sustainability and opportunities to bridge multiple technologies to create new materials.”
Most brands are hoping to see the next wave of innovation. Danny Wu, vice president at Long John Group, says innovation is the number one thing he is looking for, “and it can come from a few different areas: new technology, new process of making the material, aesthetics and the last but not least sustainability.” Joanne Stetson echoes this sentiment: “Innovation and performance are some of the key ingredients in our product, so we search for materials that are relevant to our product categories, like how to make a work boot with updated safety features. I will be looking at new breathable materials in linings and upper materials.”
Sustainability turned up on the wishlist for nearly all buyers. “Sustainability is on everyone’s mind these days,” says Stetson, “so when we can find the opportunity to incorporate sustainability in materials, we will.” This is exactly what attendees can expect to see on the show floor, where they’ll find vendors like e-Dye, Ortholite, Li Hong Sports / Sustainable Solutions, Stanbee, and Jing Hung Liang, all of whom specialize in sustainable services or products.
With the rising influence of the sportswear market on fashion and increased demand for performance and outdoor apparel, The Materials Show recently announced a partnership with Première Vision that will launch at their August 2019 shows. The Materials Show debut of Première Vision Sports will bring exclusive performance and active sports fabrics, components and designs to the show floors, all from exhibitors from Première Vision’s Parisian and international trade shows.
Fashion and aesthetic trends are also well-represented at both editions of The Materials Show, with a special presentation by PeclersParis that explores the most relevant socio-cultural trends that will influence design for the next three to five years. The show also offers ample opportunity for networking, bringing together buyers and vendors who rarely have a chance to meet face-to-face, allowing them to nurture and grow important relationships.
Attendees flock to The Materials Show to spot trends and make purchases that set a direction for seasons to come. The Materials Show founder Hisham Muhareb says, “As an industry leader for over 25 years, The Materials Show has earned a reputation as the number one destination for sourcing high performance raw materials and components. It’s the opportune place to find the latest innovations and trends, source cutting-edge materials, and make key industry connections. And by partnering with Première Vision Sport the show is poised to become a one-stop shopping destination for performance apparel, footwear and accessories.”
The Northwest Materials Show takes place Feb. 27-28, 2019. The Northeast show is March 6-7. To learn more about both editions of The Materials Show, visit americanevents.com.