Good news from the international trade fair for sustainable textiles
Visitor numbers at 51st INNATEX close to pre-pandemic levels
Frankfurt am Main, 24 January 2023 On the evening of Monday 23 January 2023, the 51st INNATEX closed its doors with a gratifying result: over the three days of the event, 1523 trade visitors attended the exhibition centre in Hofheim-Wallau, Germany. This is a sign of how things are normalising – good news, too, for the many young labels that were exhibiting at the fair, who found the ground being cut from under them during the pandemic.
“We were spotting many promising signs well in advance of the fair,” says Alexander Hitzel, INNATEX Project Manager. “After those quiet years, several exhibitors were reporting for the first time that their appointments diaries were full again. Social media similarly reflected a significantly more relaxed atmosphere, with high levels of reach and positive comments. Nonetheless, after the extremes of recent years we had to be prepared for anything, which makes this result all the more pleasing.”
Sustainable business models are not aimed just at niche target groups
Highlights of the fair included a Business Panel discussion arranged by the organisers, MUVEO GmbH, in collaboration with the Hessen Retail Federation. Under the heading ‘Sustainable fashion as a success factor in retailing – how to get started’, representatives from retail and from research spoke about issues including strategies for entering the sustainable sector, sales argumentation, credibility and further developments.
“Over the long term, the impact of sustainability on the consumer side is significant and measurable,” says Boris Hedde, Managing Director of the Institute for Retail Studies in Cologne. “At present, though, it is being overshadowed by the economic situation. As a consequence of the inflation, rising energy costs and higher prices in all sectors due to current crises, consumers are particularly price-sensitive at present and their consumption more restrained. The reduced readiness to buy across the broader society is affecting growth rates in the sustainable sector. The challenge to the industry right now, therefore, is to demonstrate that sustainable business models are not aimed just at niche target groups but have positive benefits across the whole of society.”
The discussion was moderated by Mirjam Smend, founder of Greenstyle Munich and co-publisher of the magazine PUREVIU. On the expert panel, alongside Boris Hedde, sat Silvio Zeizinger, MD, Hessen Retail Association, Laura Ott of Marlowe nature in Hamburg, Dr Simone Spranz of Spranz Landhaus und Trachtenmode, and Heike Hess of the International Association of the Natural Textile Industry (IVN), which is also the patron of INNATEX.
As a voice of the community and a networker who has been engaged in the sustainable transformation of the industry since 2016, Mirjam Smend also moderated Lounge Talks on the topics of greenwashing, materials, circular fashion and the German Supply Chain Act. These conversations with various guests took place in the new Community Lounge on the upper floor, where the DesignDiscoveries and a number of knowledge transfer providers held presentations.
Focus on circular approaches, natural fibres, recycled materials
“Through the Lounge Talks,” comments Mirjam Smend on the well-attended sessions, “we were able to bring together on the stage representatives from standard setters, startups, industry associations and visionary brands, and exploit their expertise on issues that are currently important to the sector. Interest in the topic of circularity, for instance, was quite striking. By this I mean collections in which the end of the life cycle has already been taken into account at the design process stage.”
Circular concepts were presented in DesignDiscoveries by, for example, Lotta Ludwigson with her biodegradable business suits for women, and Wellicious with their cradle-to-cradle certified yoga-wear. Mirjam Smend calls it the “revival of natural materials”, covering products made 100% from hemp, linen, organic cotton and other plant-based fibres. For the autumn/winter 2023/24 season, earthy colours such as rust brown and mustard yellow are in evidence, together with fantastical patterns. Some labels are reinventing their outdoor products using striking colours and prints. Workwear-inspired and casual textiles such as corduroy, denim and satin join up with elegant, traditional silhouettes to create a new look.
And turning to another heartfelt passion at MUVEO GmbH, the team from Europe Cares was delighted with the donations of goods from exhibitors and retailers and with the constructive contacts it made. The initiative will pass on the mint-condition products to refugees at Europe’s borders.
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INNATEX | International trade fair for sustainable textiles:
INNATEX is the only international trade fair for natural textiles in the world that offers a unique sales and communication platform not only to the traditional clothing sector but also to countless other textile product groups, including accessories, shoes, home textiles, fabrics, toys and many more. Since 1997, this fair for trade visitors has taken place twice a year – once in winter and once in summer – in Hofheim-Wallau near Frankfurt am Main. Since Spring 2014, Showroom events in Bern (Switzerland) have complemented the portfolio offered by trade fair organiser MUVEO GmbH.
The DesignDiscoveries project was developed for INNATEX by MUVEO GmbH to support selected newcomer labels and new exhibitors at the fair with subsidised stands and special business communication activities.
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