Fabric Days, a new fabric trade show format taking place from September 1 to 3, 2020 in Munich’s MOC spaces hosting a condensed version of Munich Fabric Start (also read here), is warming up its engines and getting ready for its debut. Sebastian Klinder, managing director of Munich Fabric Start/Bluezone, explains what the characteristics of the new show will be and how the market is facing the current situation.

How is the planning for Fabric Days going?
With Fabric Days, we are offering a condensed trade fair that has been adapted to the changed conditions–but still offers a professional and inspiring working atmosphere. We are very motivated to organize the first textile trade fair after lockdown as we enter the final stages of organization.

How many exhibitors are you planning to host and what category of exhibitors has your project attracted most?
Fabric Days will present a select portfolio of around 700 collections presented by 300 high-quality German and European exhibitors. Novelties for fall/winter 2021-22 are presented across five sections: Fabrics, Additionals, Denim & Sportswear, Innovations and Sourcing. For understandable reasons related to the pandemic, there will be a large selection of European exhibitors present in Munich. We are proud that thanks to established partnerships with German textile agencies, many premium collections from European manufacturers will be shown exclusively at Fabric Days this season.

How about the denim and sportswear exhibitors in particular?
For the Denim & Sportswear area, we are happy for the high quality exhibitors who have registered to showcase their newest developments at our show. The feedback from the denim community was very positive: Many thanked us for our commitment and engagement in organizing a trade fair despite all the challenges and obstacles. Unfortunately, as the “blue community” is a very international one, many denim manufacturers can’t take part in Fabric Days, even though they hoped to. However, some of them located outside of Europe found a solution and are sending their agents to our textile trade fair on their behalf.

How many denim and sportswear exhibitors are joining the event?
We are very happy to welcome 20 participating Denim & Sportswear manufacturers that will cover all sectors of this area: Velcorex, Tejidos Royo and Europa SAS are showcasing their novelties in cotton and flat woven fabrics. High quality denim weavers include Bossa, Evlox-Tavex as well as Prosperity Textile and Piovese, KT Trims and Altero are some of the trim manufacturers specialized in the denim segment. Texpro Corp, LDM company and Bartateks will present their Ready Made Solutions at Fabric Days.

Inside Bluezone in February 2020
Photo: Bluezone
Inside Bluezone in February 2020
How is the industry responding to the present situation?
We definitely feel the need and the enthusiasm of the industry to meet face to face again, to gather new inspiration and to resume business. At our event, visitors get the chance to meet their suppliers in person and to experience fabrics and accessories in real life. Marco Götz from Drykorn, for example, states that he strongly believes in the new fair format and offer of Fabric Days and is eager to do business with his partners in person again. He adds that especially in current times, targeted events like this are enormously important for the industry and cannot be replaced by digital alternatives. So yes, we would say that despite all the challenges and hard decisions at the moment, the industry feels some kind of “Hopetimism,” as our show’s slogan says, due to the need to take action again.

What are your exhibitors’ expectations? Are many of them used to working with German speaking countries and participating at MFS or are there any “new entries” participating in your shows or stepping in this market?
Open communication with our exhibitors is super important for us which is why we are in constant exchange with them–especially during these exceptional times. Since we announced that we will still offer a physical event under the new conditions, those exhibitors who are able to travel to Munich and to present their novelties welcomed this opportunity. For example, Christof Hornung from the agency Hornung states that our new show format is an important sign for our industry–because physical fabric handling and presentations are crucial to launch articles with new qualities and drapes. Therefore, he is looking forward to what has always been the essence of a fabric trade fair: personal interaction and good conversations with customers.

Most of the participating manufacturers this show’s edition are our established partners with sometimes decades of experience exhibiting at our Munich Fabric Start shows. But we also have some very exciting “new entries” this season like Vialaton Martin & Fils in the Fabrics area, Bartateks Tekstil in the Denim area, Smartfiber AG at Innovations and Le Studio Copenhagen in our Design Studios area. We are very thankful for the trust the industry has in us–be it manufacturers who have supported us over the years or exhibitors who are brave enough to participate the first time during these challenging times.

How has your show been adapted to suit the new health conscious regulations?
First of all, we are well aware of the great responsibility and challenge that comes with organizing an event in the current times. We have implemented extensive measures and hygiene rules, which go beyond local and international requirements, in order to minimize the risk of infection on site.

The entire planning and layout of the fair areas is designed to prevent crowding while considering the valid hygiene and safety measures. We have limited the exhibition space to the easily accessible halls 1 - 4 on the ground floor with corresponding aisle widths and defined entrance and exit areas. All necessary precautions are taken to ensure the minimum distance of 1.5 meters can be maintained at all times. We have also switched to purely digital ticketing with controlled access points by only trade professionals in order to minimize contact.

Fabric Days concentrates on the essentials needed for the industry to do business. That’s why we decided to focus on providing a professional working environment and an inspiring trend forum. Visitors and exhibitors are informed via the Fabric Days homepage and newsletters before the show as well as on site via suitable media and trained personnel. Show visitors are recommended to arrange appointments with their most important partners in advance and to divide their teams in the best possible way–then, there is nothing standing in the way of a safe and relaxed visit to the fair.

Has it been possible to organize seminars or any other kind of event at the show?
In addition to the select exhibitor portfolio, we were able to organize an informative trend forum under the seasonal title 'Hopetimism at Fabric Days'. Due to the health and security measures, we are unfortunately not able to organize our usual exclusive program of seminars and keynote talks. This time has allowed us to consider whether discussions must be staged physically at a fabric trade fair or not. Contrary to the presentation and the experience of textiles, the last months have underlined that talks and seminars can work perfectly digitally.

What do you expect for the future? How will the market and the industry evolve after the Covid-19 pandemic?
This crisis has already resulted in far reaching changes for the entire industry. To us, it is not about how to continue our everyday lives and organize a trade fair after Covid-19. We rather need to plan WITH Covid-19 instead. It’s not only about introducing necessary hygiene measures in the long run, but also about planning for different scenarios and continuously adapting. Our most important lesson is that we must continue to respond flexibly to changing market needs and to work together closely during these times. Establishing trusted partnerships, synergies and concentrating on the essentials is what is most important.

In these times, it becomes clear to us what the industry needs and expects at upcoming events. We have learned that creatives still wish to physically enter the world of textiles, therefore we believe in the future of smaller trade shows that stand for exclusivity and professionalism. Future trade fairs will become good indicators of possible changes and opportunity arising from the crisis–the keywords are ordering behavior, digitalization and circular economy.