Textile Forum – The Fashion Fabric Show
I caught up with a very happy Textile Forum co-founder, Linda Laderman, halfway up the stairs at their now resident venue, One Marylebone. Why the broad smile? “Fantastic event. 50% more brands in twice as much space, with a huge increase in demand for exhibiting.”
Regular visitors this time round will have noticed the ground floor space has been opened up to great effect – providing coming-of-age grander exhibiting options. “We moved into this venue, knowing we could grow into it, without having to move around.” Very important as a no-brainer venue recall that many long running events leverage to their advantage – able to spend the time focusing on customer service. The event is now a great mother and daughter act to appreciate, especially when as Linda proudly declares, “the number of visitors yesterday were almost the same as both days in March.” Where does this event go next I asked? “We are looking at performance fabrics, lingerie, sportswear.” And it seems, working off a strong platform they can pretty much go where they choose – sustainable and ethical too.
It’s always good to see what the UK heritage brands are doing at trade shows, with the temptation to play it safe, seemingly not in the DNA of Holland & Sherry’s (H&S) new Fusion fabric range, with a classic suiting weave with a mixed palette – pinstripes with mixed colours not tried before. Interestingly, the fabric departure points are still harnessed within a traditional method of selling, adopting the more personal touch with the many tailors, designers and wholesalers they visit to show the ranges too.
Also new for H&S for 2015/16 is the Sherry Alpaca and the Classic Perennial Merino weave, and as Hasnaa Nabeebocus informed me, “and made to last, even as a lightweight blend still robust enough as a 9oz lightweight fabric to sustain an impressive rub count of 47,000 rubs – the best yet.” H&S supply to the all the tailors on Savile Row and have a long earned privilege to have been selected as fabric providers for both The Kingsman movie and the soon-to-be-released Bond movie, Spectre. Not bad for fans of made in the UK.
Another particularly satisfying part of the event was seeing Zoe Childs, a graduate of clear talent and merit at Graduate Fashion Week (Zoe’s design pictured left), humbly commence, what for many new designers would be an enviable ‘real collaboration’ with Hainsworth, one month in and ‘working the stand’ with Hainsworth, another key UK heritage wool manufacturer (8 uninterrupted generations from the Battle of Waterloo uniform to Prince William’s wedding tunic).
How was the experience, I asked Zoe? “I absolutely love it. Working in and next to a 231-year-old mill, I just love the atmosphere and seeing the different colours every day. Being able to talk to the different specialists and learn directly from dyers, seamstresses, and printers – if you have a question – you get it answered on the spot.”
A happier bunny on the planet would be harder to find, but for anyone that saw her front page Evening Standard arrival, it’s just well deserved – talent does rise to the top. But full credit to Hainsworth for having the desire and commitment to allow new talent into their midst to enable Zoe to work on a genuine briefed collaboration across four concepts and three to four colour ways, experimenting with different techniques, inks and foils to produce unique new fabric. Hainsworth may be the oldest mill, but it exhibits a very modern approach to nurturing new talent and innovation. Wonderful to see and a great aspirant model for the industry and designers alike. (More please from the rest of the fabric producers out there!)
Can Zoe (pictured right) imagine what might it be like, developing her own ideas as a brand without the supportive, nurturing foresight of this illustrious heritage brand? True to her nature, and no false modesty in sight, “I would be totally lost if I was on my own. Working with Hainsworth has given me the freedom and confidence to meet people and manage the process, in a unique placement collaboration.” As a process and a focused deliverable, Zoe will be producing fabric designs for sale in the new year – it’s not Hainsworth largesse – it’s the real, commercial world – and an experience that is all the more valuable for it.
One of the hardest things for any new designer to accommodate is the transition into a brand, with commercially critical considerations to adopt with little or no experience to fall back on. Hurray to Hainsworth for having the wisdom to invest in helping UK talent flourish.
By Paul Markevicius