Evolving Supply Chains, Sustainability, Circularity, and Fun
Oh, and fabrics that are good for your soul.
Despite the searing heat of summer, the energy at Texworld and the Functional Fabric Fair in New York was high, as the world of fashion, technology, fabric leaders and component brands convened to share best practices. From the show floor, a series of recurring industry themes have emerged along with a repetitive, stand-out message: Brands must embrace best-in-class technology to deliver the highest level of performance while furthering sustainability, traceability, and circularity, and evoking a sense of fun for the consumer.
Also generating buzz is the growing interest in using fabrics and yarns that promote well-being and healthy lifestyles. To accomplish these goals, brands also must contend with a wide range of global factors (e.g. tariffs, national and global referendums, and the changing political landscapes) that are impacting supply chains each and every day. Welcome to the new normal.
- There is tremendous diversity, aesthetics and creativity in the fabric world – giving brands and designers more choices.
- There exists a serious commitment to develop technologies that protect the planet, especially the responsibility to use less water, e.g. with no dye options.
- There are significantly more colors/textures and sheens, not to mention more light-hearted and spirited shapes.
- Fabrics with glitter and shine and “space age” modes are trending.
- The dedication to preserving performance is fierce.
- There is a growing trend to use products, e.g. yarn, that promotes wellness and benefits the skin.
- “Smart” fabric engineering is standard operating procedure.
- There is a clear increase towards more “wicking” properties.
- Recycling is not enough. Biodegradable characteristics are a must (PrimaLoft is an industry leader).
- There is an urgent call to pay attention to the worsening global plastic and compounding microplastics crisis.
- Products must be regenerative–putting more back into the earth.
- Eco-tech is a big trend, e.g. cottons with PFC free coatings or organic qualities.
- Supply chains must evolve to address the growing consumer demand for transparency.
- The global political climate is uncertain, driven by the tariff confusion, tweets and unrest between major powers – brands and manufacturers must be on their toes.
- There is a strong exodus out of China to Vietnam and possibly India (which has its own set of problems).
- Brands are diversifying their sourcing.
- With existing rules and regulations, a big move to Made in America is unlikely and difficult to imagine.
- The apparel industry is being proactive and making progress, but the home textile industry is behind (sooner or later the home textile industry is going to change, as consumers will dictate such change).
- Innovation will attract funding, but to attract young people, technology has to be next generation, e.g. robotics.
- Customers have to be in the trenches with brands – “everyone has to have skin in the game”.
- Investors and consumers are driving pressures for transparency, influencing companies to obtain greater visibility across the value chain.