The Biggest Disruption is the Switch from the Seasonal to a Timeless Conception

Munich Fabric Start is a big event, packed with diverse and distinct verticals within the event ecosystem. See this in the backdrop of the array of exhibitors and the diversity of visitors, and, presto, it becomes an indubitable place to gauge the pulse of the industry and palpable elements that will become trends in the near future. The best person to throw light on all this is Sebastian Klinder, Managing Director of Munich Fabric Start Exhibitions GmbH. A conversation with texfash.com.

Long Story, Cut Short
  • Everyone at every single position of the supply chain knows that they can no longer afford to waste resources. So yes, people are taking more measured, circumspect decisions.
  • Many mills and manufacturers are in the midst of or have already shifted to processes that are in accordance with the EU Textiles Strategy.
  • When it comes to the heavy impact of inefficient blended fibres and fabrics on a sustainability scale, there is still a gap between research and development and the actual integration of the already developed products into the market.
Many exhibitors have said that the first questions buyers ask them are: Are your business practices are sustainable? Are your plants certified? Are your products recyclable? Those are no longer questions of marketing; they are questions of the market.
A question of marketing Many exhibitors have said that the first questions buyers ask them are: Are your business practices are sustainable? Are your plants certified? Are your products recyclable? Those are no longer questions of marketing; they are questions of the market. Munich Fabric Start Exhibitions

The turnout and excitement at this year's Munich Fabric Start matched pre-pandemic levels. What were the changes that you noticed in terms of buying practices? What were buyers looking for? Were they more circumspect? Were people taking more measured decisions?
Sustainability has become even more important than before. Many exhibitors have told us that the first questions buyers ask them are: Are your business practices are sustainable? Are your plants certified? Are your products recyclable? Those are no longer questions of marketing; they are questions of the market. Moreover, the conflict situation of skyrocketing energy prices, the current geopolitical unpredictability plus ever imminent shortages of some raw materials are necessitating fast and even further transformations towards more efficient technologies and processes. Everyone at every single position of the supply chain knows that they can no longer afford to waste resources. So yes, people are taking more measured, circumspect decisions.

Another main topic is the discussion about prices. Especially, Germany is a very price sensitive market. There are fixed retail prices brands do not want to change. Now that raw material and energy costs are rising, buyers and product managers are searching for solutions. This is quite challenging if they at the same time want to maintain their high quality and create collections with exciting, fresh and new looks, colours and materials.

This is also the first time Munich Fabric Start was held since the announcement of the EU Textiles Strategy. Were its overall and long-term implications already reflected this year at MFS? How are companies gearing up?
Many mills and manufacturers are in the midst of or have already shifted to processes that are in accordance with the EU Textiles Strategy. Many denim manufacturers, for example, have adopted dyeing and finishing technologies that work with no or little to no water and entirely without chemicals. Whether it be Muze’s drop dye, Sharabati’s recycling system, Wiser’s oxygen-based, pumice free bleaching process—many have already taken steps to fulfilling the EU’s requirements. In terms of recycling and recyclability, we see that lot of new ideas come up to join forces to use consumer waste as new raw materials to create fashion in circularity. Many countries are looking for solutions. There is a lot to come.  

The other thing that has happened, and is still happening, is the Ukraine war. Has it had any impact on Munich Fabric Start in terms of visitors? What was Russian participation like in the earlier years?
To be honest: in this specific case, the first thing we as trade show organisers care about is the people, not our performance indicators or visitor numbers. For sure, this war has an impact on all of us on a way deeper level. During the last couple of days, I had several talks to long-time friends who are affected on a personal level by having relatives in regions that have turned into a war zone, or knowing business partners who had to flee, or just personal memories of travels to places that have now become battle fields. Hearing those stories is heart breaking and it frightens me. On a personal level as well as a professional. Our industry is an exceptionally international one—conflicts are never good for globalisation; armed conflicts and wars even less so.

On an aesthetic trend level, the biggest shift is the concurrency of different trends. Denim is an absolutely ageless phenomenon. And while young generations might be willing to lever heavy qualities from the heritage scene to a wider market, those brands focussing on mid-agers probably tend to source more stretchy ones. The same applies for finishing options.
On Trend On an aesthetic trend level, the biggest shift is the concurrency of different trends. Denim is an absolutely ageless phenomenon. And while young generations might be willing to lever heavy qualities from the heritage scene to a wider market, those brands focussing on mid-agers probably tend to source more stretchy ones. The same applies for finishing options. Munich Fabric Start Exhibitions

The Bluezone is a big canvas in itself. It’s a good place to pick up denim trends. How has denim changed since the pandemic?
On an aesthetic trend level, the biggest shift that we see is the concurrency of different trends. Denim is an absolutely ageless phenomenon. And while young generations might be willing to lever heavy qualities from the heritage scene to a wider market, those brands focussing on mid-agers probably tend to source more stretchy ones. The same applies for finishing options. Having said that, we see multiple parallel trends going on in denim. Nevertheless, our own trend forecasters once again identified a meta trend that was able to encompass multiple actual social characteristics and merge them with contemporary ones that move the fashion and design scene—which is why Bluezone’s seasonal theme is ‘Campus’. Under that term we’ve been able to condense a lot of the things that are going on in the denim world right now. And to stimulate education within a community that has a growing mindset and is able and willing to learn and change.

As I have already made apparent earlier, the biggest shift for our whole sector—including the denim universe—is the huge increase in consciousness. Everyone has realised what raw materials are really worth. There is more education around those contexts and a growing interest in details such as social issues or efficiency. We are aware of this demand, which is why we had an extensive series of seminars, lectures and talks at MFS this year, most of which have been centred around circularity, recycling, new materials, traceability and innovations. And we take this matter seriously—we’ve even reached out to enable a ‘coopetitive’ (cooperative competition) cooperation with the Transformer Foundation, resulting in a specialised on stage programme of trans-sectoral discussions and round table talks.

Do you notice any perceptible change in terms of material use? A significant chunk of denims are still made from elastane or are blends. What do you notice in terms of fibres?
Most innovation-driven denim makers have already laid the idea of exclusive seasonal collections to rest, bringing new fabrics to the market whenever they are ready instead. Therefore, the change that you are talking about will be an ongoing process rather than a sudden one. But one can be sure that regenerated man-made fibres, new biobased or recycled yarns will lead to an even wider array of blended fabrics. Therefore, it’s crucial that those who are in charge of creating those fabrics will collectively become aware of how to compose them in a way that meets quality criteria as well regarding design needs, and the fabrics environmental aspects.

Speaking about the heavy impact of all those inefficient blended fibres and fabrics on a sustainability scale, I must admit that there is still a gap between research and development and the actual integration of the already developed products into the market. However, Munich Fabric Start is a driver of awareness and change, and through our talks as well as the many show-in-show areas such as Bluezone, Keyhouse, The Source or ReSource, dedicated to quality, innovation and sustainability, I think we’re on a good path. There are many exciting new materials and techniques that could change the use and composition of material in an instant. The shift is slower than many of us might hope, but awareness and visibility are increasing, and with this increased visibility comes change.

Regenerated man-made fibres, new biobased or recycled yarns will lead to an even wider array of blended fabrics. Therefore, it’s crucial that those who are in charge of creating those fabrics will collectively become aware of how to compose them in a way that meets quality criteria as well regarding design needs, and the fabrics environmental aspects.
Of Fibres & Fabric Regenerated man-made fibres, new biobased or recycled yarns will lead to an even wider array of blended fabrics. Therefore, it’s crucial that those who are in charge of creating those fabrics will collectively become aware of how to compose them in a way that meets quality criteria as well regarding design needs, and the fabrics environmental aspects. Munich Fabric Start Exhibitions

Do you see any dramatic change in the denim market in terms of manufacturers or buyers? Are the manufacturers and buyers still the same as ever? What will be the next disruption in denim?
The only constant is change. This old saying has never been more current than it is right now… and the denim market is no exception. We think that it is no longer a secret that the fashion industry has to face and find answers to an oversaturation of the market. Thus, the biggest disruption is the switch from seasonal to timeless conception.

What was the need for The Source, so much so that it needed to be a sub-event and not part of the main Munich Fabric Start?
We actively decided to make it a show-in-show because we wanted to raise awareness for the potential synergies that the simultaneity of a trade show focusing on sourcing and one for fabrics make possible. Think about visiting designers or product managers, and being able to hold meetings with their brand’s fabric producers or even pattern studios and the CMT companies. Our vision is the one of a kind one-stop sourcing ecosystem.   

The Source talks about prime manufacturing solutions. It's about an all-in-one package. How will this concept morph in the coming years? Were tell-tale signs already visible in the earlier years?
Well, I can’t give you a definitive answer for years to come today. We have manifold ideas, and we truly believe that the benefit of all-in-one solutions are manifold as well. But first things first: We’ve set up a completely new concept. Now we have to analyse and listen to our guests’ feedback. We know from experience that it always takes a couple of seasons to optimise a new trade show product—therefore, the concept of The Source itself will hopefully improve over the next seasons. And so will the concepts of all-in-one package sourcing that you speak about in your question. The potentials for them are big—think reducing of the numbers of margins across the production chain; think transparency, to only name two. Turnkey solutions might be the future for some market segments, but definitely the market needs to be patient, and it needs allow those manufacturers who venture to go that direction some time in order to improve the processes.

What, according to you, are the driving forces for turnkey, end-to-end solutions? Did the pandemic accelerate this need?
As I just said—we don’t see it as the single future solution for the whole fashion market. For some segments it works, for others it might not. Critical volume surely is one differentiator regarding that question. Discriminability or brand individuality might be another that should be considered. In one aspect the pandemic definitely acted as an accelerator for end-to-end solutions: the transcontinental means of travel. But keep in mind that we’ve identified quality and trustworthiness as two main demands of the modern fashion industry—end-to-end is no exclusion to that need.

In terms of recycling and recycleability, a lot of new ideas have come up to join forces to use consumer waste as new raw materials to create fashion in circularity. Many countries are looking for solutions. There is a lot to come.
New Ideas In terms of recycling and recycleability, a lot of new ideas have come up to join forces to use consumer waste as new raw materials to create fashion in circularity. Many countries are looking for solutions. There is a lot to come. Munich Fabric Start Exhibitions

Then you have the ReSource. How do you think online sourcing works? One reason why people have been flocking to Munich Fabric Start and also other premium events is that sourcing works best in person-to-person meets. So, how do you position ReSource w.r.t. Munich Fabric Start?
ReSource is a meta platform that we created years ago and to which we invite all our exhibitors to submit their ecologically and socially certified fabrics and additionals. We verify them and present them according to the sustainability criteria they meet. Alongside that special presentation area, we gather some standards, certification bodies, and other sustainability experts so they can answer questions. Here, too, education is key. ReSource initially is an offer to all our visitors where they can source more sustainable solutions to what they already use, meet potential suppliers and gather new insights.

As those topics are packed with content, we launched a digital expansion of ReSource a couple of years ago where we provide further information about fabrics, producers, certificates, etc. All products that are presented in our ReSource area on-site can be sourced 24/7 online as well on www.resource-textiles.com to provide an ongoing access to these materials. And: yes, we believe in the power of personal meetings and get togethers — think of building trust, relationships and reliability…

Munich Fabric Start is a big event. But we know all about the area, the features, the number of participants, etc. Please tell us how you go about organising Munich Fabric Start every time. If I want to successfully organise a big event, what would you tell me: what are the 3, or say, 5 pieces of advice that you would give me.
Be reliable, be unique, be inspiring, deliver continuity and, have a good, passionate team and the right partners who love what they do. And, you might have already guessed it, strive for quality.

The biggest shift for our whole sector—including the denim universe—is the huge increase in consciousness. Everyone has realised what raw materials are really worth. There is more education around those contexts and a growing interest in details such as social issues or efficiency. We are aware of this demand, which is why we had an extensive series of seminars, lectures and talks at MFS this year, most of which have been centred around circularity, recycling, new materials, traceability and innovations. And we take this matter seriously.

Sebastian Klinder
Sebastian Klinder / Managing Director / Munich Fabric Start Exhibitions GmbH
 
 
  • Dated posted: September 7, 2022
  • Last modified: September 7, 2022