London Textile Fair

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"Wool is Everywhere" 

A report from the London Textile Fair 

The buzz around this summer's London Textile Fair is indicative of its growing popularity. Pleasantly housed in the airy, windowed glass architecture of the Islington Business Centre in North London, a range of buyers came to sample A/W 19/20 and, in some cases, to browse for quicker delivery. Womenswear dominated, with a backbone of well-known menswear and suiting specialists from European and British companies.

Along with many well-known names in British textiles, the offer included a strong showing from Turkish firms, including Altinyildiz, Italian producers from famous areas like Prato and Como, and companies from Portugal.

Areas included Accessories, Print Studios, Vintage Garments and Trends. Seminars covered sourcing  sustainable fashionon textiles, notably one by the Lenzing Group on how to evaluate particular fibres for sustainability.

The Attractions of British Wool

As the season in question was Autumn/ Winter there was a fair amount of wool in major blends and 100 per cent qualities.   For example, Golden Tex, Turkey, with 60 or 70 per cent wool with polyester for suitings with effects like shine, included 100 per cent worsted qualities in lightweight Merino.

But British wool had clearly moved up the agenda. The patterns at Marton Mills reported interest in identified wool breeds, including lambswool with an 8% cashmere content as well as traditional poly/wool in various designs which are still demanded by some big retailing groups, with the amount of wool gradually rising to 55 per cent.

Lochcarron of Scotland brought its bright and colourful influence to a prime spot on the upper floor of the hall with wool sometimes mixed with mohair for a long brushed look, and soft, lightweight fabrics in unusual coloured tartans and jacketings – yellow, red, green and black for example.  The ranges were reported to have received a ‘super reaction’ and the interest was palpable.

Abraham Moon had developed ‘set up’ compact weaves, and colour schemes sometimes provided by speciality wools in attractive British tweed combinations and undyed shades, a fashion being taken up by many important names in online retailing as well as high street stores.

In the same way Mallalieu of Delph showed exceptional, big scale tweeds fabrics in greens, reds and dark accents in various weights some very light.  Here too, there was a good example of British wool’s attractions, reported to be appreciated by Japanese buyers. This was seen in 100 per cent qualities with 3D effects for depth, while pure new wool Merino worsted qualities which had been shown recently in Idea Biella Milan were finding equal interest in London.

It was no surprise to see Joseph Clissold present, who reported the importance of both new and established clients they see at the London show. British wool here was represented by Herdwick sheep wools, naturally diverse in colour, from mountainous Cumbria, and overcoatings in Jacob wool.  Merino still represents the bulk of the offer, some with a crisper look and with heavier coatings. The denim washable all wool fabric introduced last year by Clissold is having a great impact.

Altinyildiz of Turkey are old hands and come every season for a show they find very busy. Double-face fabrics were at a premium here, with all wool pinstripes and a silky touch with a proportion of polyester, often added to a mainly wool fabric for suitings.

Many exhibitors mentioned that thankfully, sustainability is now finding impetus from the retail end back to the beginning. Wool was also mixed with viscose and Tencel, as this finds favour with certain environmentally conscious customers. Paulo de Oliveira of Portugal used wool blends for various fabrics for winter, in light to heavier weights

A Good Match to Current Demands

London was described as a busy, good show, with an increasingly active set of visitors looking for change and stylish goods for the new winter season 2019/20. The growing popularity of this fair is indicative of a hard look at the relevance of show timings which retailers and suppliers are currently taking. Both areas of commerce are evaluating the best way of tackling fluctuating supply schedules, and maximising effect for their business flows.The London Textile Fair seems to be a good match to current demands and saw visitors both regular and new, including large British retail groups and supermarkets. 

Buyers were reported to be looking for texture and colour, including special effects producing by metallic wool blend yarns for shiny effects, alongside some cashmere. Another trend was for thicker yarns and heavier double weaves.

The most encouraging verdict, speaking for many, was ‘wool is everywhere’.

– Janet Prescott

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