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Trade Shows: Who's Going, Where & When?

The textile community, re-thinking trade show strategy, will have a smaller than usual presence at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market.

Trade show participation has long been a given, with convention center hotels booked a year — or two — in advance, dinner reservations coordinated, calendars cleared, and travel go-bags at the ready. However, with the roughly $11 billion domestic trade show industry perking up, and concerns subsiding, are textile execs digging out their lanyards?

I reached out to the textile community to get a handle on trade show plans for the upcoming Summer/Fall season. Based on my survey of leading suppliers, there is a move away from big top events to more curated textile-centric fairs, with more thoughtful consideration of costs, relative to achievable business goals, all giving way to “wait and see,” and “on the fence” attitudes regarding trade show commitments.

The question most top of mind is OR attendance. One exec, summing up how others in the industry feel mid-June, stated, “I’m not going to know until the middle of July whether I’m going to Outdoor Retailer."

Of the 17 companies I polled, only a few — eVent, Cordura, Allied — replied “YES” to attending Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, albeit with a smaller than usual presence.

According to Cordura’s Cindy McNaull, the company is not formally exhibiting but may be renting some meeting space for a few hours each day.

Of those not attending OR, and/or other events in the next few months, travel is a factor. Polartec reports, “We’ll follow Polartec's parent company protocols, which is not currently open for loose travel. Being a global counterpart, Polartec has to consider many countries and their conditions as well.”

The global nature of the textile business plays a role in who’s going where and when. It was pointed out that Asia has been staging in-person events for months, most EU shows have been virtual, and obviously no shows are happening in India.

When asked specifically about trade events on the docket for 2021, many responded with a “Yes” to the Functional Fabric Fair in Portland, OR this October; others said that the show was “under consideration.”

Sorona’s Renee Henze, explained,We had committed in 2020 [to Functional Fabric Fair] and will use the carry over credits to attend.”  Her comments echo others who had reserved space previous to COVID cancellations in 2020.

There is interest in TechTextil NA slated for the end of August in Raleigh, with several execs expecting to walk the expo. Execs also mentioned Kingpins (virtual and in person) events, IFAI (November), NAUMD (October), Curve (August) and Performance Days Munich (December) as trade conventions on the radar this year.

While everyone polled expressed a desire to gather face to face at industry events, and agree that shows remain important, the need to exhibit constantly, hopscotching from venue to venue, is changing as execs re-evaluate sales strategies — both virtual and live interaction.

Companies queried include: PrimaLoft, Polartec, Unifi, Lycra, Cordura, eVent fabrics, Suedwolle, Hyosung, Sorona, Allied, Schoeller, Concept III, Gore, Cotton Incorporated, Hohenstein, Woolmark and Chemours.

The July/August issue of Textile Insight will follow up with more on the 2021/22 trade show outlook.

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Jun 21, 2021


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