Fabric Shows Pick Up Steam

Trade shows are emerging as an important -- and profitable -- segment of the domestic textile industry.

Byline: Michael McNamara

NEW YORK -- Trade shows are emerging as an important -- and profitable -- segment of the domestic textile industry.

Spurred by a soaring interest in global sourcing and a textile industry hungry for increased business, the four major U.S. fabric shows -- the International Fashion Fabric Exhibition, Texitalia and Jardins d'Elegance (a combined showing of upscale European fabrics) and Yarn Fair International, all held in New York, and the Los Angeles International Textile Show -- are reporting substantial increases in both exhibitor and buyer attendance.

Each of the shows has a distinct flavor, although IFFE, Yarn Fair and the Los Angeles event all feature a mix of domestic and foreign fabric offerings, with overseas mills comprising about 20 percent of the exhibitors.

Exhibiting at one of the shows could cost a firm as much as $50,000, depending on the size of the booth and travel expenses.

"It's not a cheap proposition by any stretch," said A.C. Corbiere, president of Cortex, Marcy L'Etoile, France, who shows at the IFFE and Jardins d'Elegance. "But the contacts we make and the sampling we do is starting to pay off. It is a necessary evil to pay, but we do."

The show's sponsors said exhibitors are recognizing that although there's not a lot of business written at the shows, contacts and sampling lead to filled order pads.

"The U.S. is a huge market, and people are realizing there's an incredible amount of business to be done at a trade show," said Jonathan Larkin, president of The Larkin Group, sponsor of the twice-yearly IFFE. "Up until a few years ago, there were no viable trade shows here. You had several smaller, regional shows, without a lot of drawing power."

"The key is to be able to get firms not only from the U.S., but also from Mexico, Canada, Europe, the Far East, wherever there's a textile industry. Variety is the key," said Ruth McKeown, director of markets and trade shows for the California Mart, which along with the Textile Association of Los Angeles sponsors the Los Angeles International Textile Show.

As for the buyers, Melinda Besnoin, an owner of Melivier, a designer bridge resource in Los Angeles, said that while she usually attends Premiere Vision, she has begun shopping the Los Angeles show to "support the market here."

Here, a look at the four top domestic textile trade shows.

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