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MENA Region Transforming into a Crucial Textile Hub

MENA Region Transforming into a Crucial Textile Hub

An Interview with FABRIC DAYS, MUNICH FABRIC START & BLUEZONE

By: Middle East Textile Journal

1. Could you please let us know more about MUNICH FABRIC START and BLUEZONE, its history and success story?
As one of the leading European textile fairs, MUNICH FABRIC START opens the new season twice a year with a substantial portfolio of international fabric and accessory manufacturers who present their latest developments and innovations in Munich.

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More than 1,000 manufacturers from 40 countries, over 1,800 collections and a comprehensive range of textiles, accessories, prints, finishings and apparel sourcing make MUNICH FABRIC START an outstanding international business format.

An event programme with renowned speakers, trend lectures and detailed trend and sample areas offer an extensive pool of information and inspiration in addition to the trade publications provided.

Continuously raising the bar on inspiration and innovation, MUNICH FABRIC START attracts more than 20,000 visitors to Munich from across Europe and abroad every season, including buyers and designers of influential retailers and fashion brands.

The percentage of visitors from abroad is around 38 percent. The visitors appreciate the expertise, professional working atmosphere and the wide range of information and inspiration.

MUNICH FABRIC START has pursued the goal for holistic sustainability since the very beginning – that is why we always react progressively to changes and anticipate sustainable processes. Every season, the ecological footprint of the trade fair is continuously reduced, with the effects on exhibitors and visitors also taken into account. It’s all about transparency, education, credibility and information as well as raising a new awareness for limited global resources and the fact that progress and sustainability go hand in hand.

 FABRIC DAYS, MUNICH FABRIC START & BLUEZONE

MUNICH FABRIC START launched the first of its kind denim dedicated show in 2003: BLUEZONE. Since then, BLUEZONE has established itself as one of the most substantial business platforms for the international denim, street and sportswear markets.

More than 100 established denim weavers, finishers and washers present their latest developments in the authentic setting of a former railway construction hall and coal shelters. With a strong commitment to excellence and a highly innovative approach to its curation, BLUEZONE is used as a key event by the denim community to present and discover the finest materials, know-how and latest blue innovations.

2. Why did you decide to organize FABRIC DAYS this season instead of MUNICH FABRIC START and BLUEZONE? How many exhibitors are you expecting at FABRIC DAYS?

Due to the lockdown phase and ongoing travel restrictions, many exhibitors had to cancel their participation at MUNICH FABRIC START and BLUEZONE. But we followed our goal to still offer a creative environment for effective work and inspiration under the new conditions this season for those exhibitors and agencies who are willing and able to present their novelties and for the visitors that are able to travel to Munich.

 FABRIC DAYS, MUNICH FABRIC START & BLUEZONE

With FABRIC DAYS, we now offer a condensed business trade fair from 1 – 3 September 2020 in Munich that concentrates on the essentials and presents a select portfolio of around 300 German and European exhibitors. In around 700 collections, novelties for Autumn.Winter 21/22 are presented across 5 sections.

Thanks to established partnerships with leading textile agencies in Germany, many collections by European manufacturers will be shown exclusively and only in Munich this season. The trade fair format, which has been slimmed down to 4 exhibition halls on the ground floor of the MOC Munich, has been adapted to the changed conditions and offers a professional and inspiring working atmosphere. Above all, visitors will have the chance to meet their suppliers and partners in person, gather inspiration and experience fabrics and accessories in real life.

We are well aware of the great responsibility and challenge that comes with organising an event in the current times. At the same time, we feel the need and the enthusiasm of the industry to meet in person again and to gather new inspiration and to resume business. We have implemented extensive measures and hygiene rules on site, which go beyond local and international requirements, in order to minimize the risk of infection on site.

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3. Do you have any kind of trend information or seminars during the FABRIC DAYS show?

Besides the select exhibitor portfolio, there will be an informative Trend Forum under the seasonal title HOPETIMISM at FABRIC DAYS. Visitors will have the chance to get an insight into the 5 trend themes which are newly developed by our team every season and then presented in the Trend Forum.

Besides the descriptions of the trend topics, the Trend Forum also includes relevant fabrics from the exhibiting manufacturers. At MUNICH FABRIC START, we normally organize an extensive program of trend seminars, round table discussions with industry experts and keynote talks about relevant textile topics with top speakers, most notably leading trend forecaster Li Edelkoort.

FABRIC DAYS, MUNICH FABRIC START & BLUEZONE

4. What do you think about Middle East and Africa textile and fabric market and its potential?

For several years the MENA region has been transforming itself into a crucial textile manufacturing hub. We believe that it is an important centre for apparel and textile business with great potential for the future in all kinds of goods: fibres, fabrics, apparel, home textiles and technical textiles.

The MENA region is also becoming increasingly more important because of its central positioning: Textile products can be easily shipped to Europe for example without having to travel an extremely long way. This fits with the growing awareness and popularity of the nearshoring concept and a more holistic approach to sustainability. Besides, the MENA region seems to have the capacity and the know-how to develop into a leading fabric market.

5. Do you have any exhibitors or visitors from MENA region? Which countries in the Middle East and Africa are your main targets for visitors and exhibitors?

Due to our focus on international markets and offerings, we are always very happy to welcome exhibitors and visitors from outside Europe, of course including the MENA region. At the last edition of MUNICH FABRIC START in February 2020, around 24% of our nearly 1000 exhibitors were coming from the MENA region. 212 Turkish companies presented their products in Munich, including Ipeker, Bossa, Kilim Denim, Santana Tekstil and ITKIB. We also welcomed 9 exhibitors from Morocco like Nautus, AMDIE, Madness, Confetex Albo S.A.R.L. or Lavasser.

Further participating countries from the MENA region were Tunisia and Egypt, among others. The exhibiting manufacturers from Egypt included, for example, Sharabati Denim and Eurotex Garments while Confection Ras Jebel, Denim House Tunisia, Denim Authority and ETC Group are some of the Tunisian exhibitors that presented their collections at MUNICH FABRIC START in February 2020.

FABRIC DAYS, MUNICH FABRIC START & BLUEZONE

Being located in the heart of Bavaria, Munich, the MUNICH FABRIC START event attracts visitors from all continents every season. In February 2020 for example, 16% of our visitors came from outside the EU and 7.5% of those were coming from the MENA region (including Turkey). In further detail, 337 Turkish visitors, 23 Tunisians and 19 Egyptians travelled to Munich looking for inspiration, innovation and to connect with the industry.

As soon as the pandemic allows an ease of international travelling again, we are striving to welcome more exhibitors and visitors from the whole MENA region every season. Our tip for first-time visitors in Munich: Don’t miss the chance to visit and experience one of our traditional Bavarian beer gardens and spend a day at one of the many lakes with views of the nearby mountains!

6. Do you think there will be long term changes for textile trade fairs as a result of Covid-19?

This crisis has already resulted in far-reaching changes for the entire industry. In these times, it becomes clear to us as trade fair organisers what the industry expects and needs from us at upcoming events. Future trade fairs will become good indicators of possible changes and opportunity arising from the crisis, which must be developed further – the keywords are ordering behaviour, digitalisation and circular economy. These are topics that can completely restructure the textile industry along the entire supply chain to the consumer.

The most important learning we can do is to continue to respond flexibly to the changing market needs and to offer the industry a platform for information and inspiration. We must work closely together in this time. Establishing trusted partnerships, synergies and concentrating on the essentials is what is most important. We are working on solutions on how to continue our everyday life and organize a trade fair WITH Covid-19 instead of after Covid-19.

This is not only about introducing necessary hygiene measures in the long run but also about planning with different scenarios and continuously adapting.

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7. What kind of innovation is expected from textile trade fairs in the future?

Progress is always important – and with the introduction of an area completely dedicated to sustainably produced fabrics and trims already in 2008, known today as ReSource, or with the launch of the first of its kind denim dedicated show BLUEZONE in 2003, we are always striving to be ahead in the textile trade fair field.

Right now, digital alternatives to fashion events are what the whole industry is talking about and we see this development as a very positive one in general. From our point of view, however, digital trade formats are not yet a fully-fledged alternative for fabric fairs.

For products such as fabrics, touch, fall, weight and colour are decisive. In our opinion, these qualities cannot yet be sufficiently represented digitally. We can well imagine a hybrid model between an analogue and digital trade fair: Collections and trends will continue to be presented at trade fairs, and further processing for collection design can be implemented digitally.

During the trade fair, digital solutions such as live chats with screens at the exhibitor stands are conceivable. For the future, it is desirable to create a globally functioning, professional tool for the industry, which combines the lessons learned from the various existing digital platforms.

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