Texworld USA January 2019 Recap!
This week was the biannual TEXWORLD USA Convention at the Javits Center! I had yet to attend and had no idea what to expect, but had an absolutely wonderful time (and some learning experiences)!
For those that have never been to (or perhaps never even heard of) Texworld, Texworld is a massive convention for fashion textiles and other supply chain providers. If you want to change the way the fashion industry you see in the store works, you first have to take a step back and make sure all the pieces leading to that point are A-OK. The majority of booths were for textile manufacturers, but there were also some booths for beads and trim, as well as ready to wear wholesale manufacturers, and others providing fashion services (ie, Fashion Revolution, Ecotextile News, Helpsy, Queen of Raw, Fabscrap, etc).
Now, Texworld is not for the faint of heart. IT IS MASSIVE. I spent hours wandering the aisles looking at various providers. This exploration was broken up by the occasional formal talk in the main hall, with everyone from fashion buyers to designers, and seminars on cool things like removing harmful chemicals and dyes from the supply chain (Cool stuff, right?!).
I particularly enjoyed a seminar with Elana Taylor from the Hohenstein Institute speaking about Oeko-Tex certification. Before the seminar, I didn't realize there were 6 different types of Oeko-Tex certification for various steps in the fashion supply chain (Eco Passport, STeP, Detox to Zero, Made in Green, Standard 100 and Leather Standard). Brands that have Oeke-Tex certifaction follow a standard for sustainability in their supply chain. Great stuff - but expensive! Some brands during the seminar inquired about the cost of certification and it several thousand dollars, at the low end. Rough. That said, not every brand is Oeke-Tex certified, and that's okay. My perspective is a lot of big fashion labels may seek certification so that their brand is acknowledged without them having to be branded as "sustainable fashion," and a lot of smaller indie labels may feel they don't need to pursure Oeke-Tex certification because they are already incredibly transparent about how sustainable their supply chain in. Just a thought! One nice surprise was that it was mentioned that more brands are sustainable than the average consumer may think! Just because a brand doesn't say they are sustainable does not mean that they are not sustainable, in fact, it's usually the opposite. I know I'm guilty of assuming if a brand doesn't advertise they are sustainable thinking that they are not. - Nice
to know that is not necessarily the case! Isn't it nice when things are better than you expect?
Texworld was super tactile as well, it was very cool to stop by the massive Tencel booth. I've been aware of cotton alternatives like Tencel and Modal for awhile now (Thanks, Reformation and MeUndies!), but I didn't really know how those textiles were made or how they were different from cotton. Tencel had a very visual display showing the process for tree to wood chips to pulp, fiber, yarn, and finally fabric! From my background in merchandising, I know women really like to touch clothing when they are looking at it/shopping, the Tencel display totally appealed to my mindset of wanting to feel everything! In addition to all the different suppliers there was also a part of the convention called "Resource Row," this was a section of entire sustainable service providers. The suppliers on display were Fabscrap, Helpsy, Queen of Raw, Ecotextile News, and NYC Fair Trade Coalition. A few facts about
- Helpsy is a textile recycling company. Sock with a hole? Threadbare underwear? Stained T-Shirt? These are the guys to take these things to! When you have a piece of clothing that wouldn't make an acceptable donation or swap, it can be hard to know what to do with it, and you may be tempted to throw it away. Helpsy will take these things and sort them to figure out the best way to reuse them, whether shredded as pulp, spun into something new, etc. Helpsy has over 700 location in the tri-state area, THAT THEY VISIT AND EMPTY EVERY DAY. How crazy is that? They only have 2 locations in Manhattan but you can find what will be the closest to you at www.helpsy.co - If you are a designer though, with excess fabric or scraps (as opposed to pieces of clothing) and better option would be Queen of Raw or Fabscrap.
- Queen of Raw is a resale company for deadstock, if you are a fashion brand with excess material, you can try and make back some your cost by rehoming the fabric through Queen of Raw. If you have smaller pieces though, as opposed to yards of Fabric, Fabscrap would be your best bet! Fabscrap sells what they can but sustainably recycles the fabric and clothes that they cannot re-sell.
- Ecotextile News was a super interesting find! They magazine is all about sustainability in fashion and has been around since 2006, wayyyy before "sustainable fashion" was a buzzword. When they began, the magazine was more of a pamphlet, but now it's bona fide magazine with thousands of subscribers - how cool!
I truly had a great time while at Texworld, however, there was one caveat (though not a unique to Texworld). Many of the presenter booths I went to showed a very obvious and rude disposition when speaking with me upon learning I was not a fashion designer. I would walk about to a booth that caught my eye (typically one that had a big sign talking about how sustainable they were) and as I was looking at/feeling the textiles, the guy (because it was always a middle-aged man) would come up and grab the badge hanging around my neck, read it, say something like, "Oh, you're not a designer," and drop it/toss it back at me before walking away in active disinterest. Rude, much?!?
I understand that the target audience for Texworld is designers and merchandisers, and I don't fall into that category. However, I do think that striking a dialogue with someone never hurts a brand (especially if there is no one else around, which was the case with these booths), and I do think that invading someone's personal space is rude, and I do think that if someone is at Texworld, there's a potential that they could be a designer or tie to a designer in some aspect, regardless of what their badge says (Mine said Hand Me Up Club, what if I was just a new indie brand?!) so rejecting someone as not worth your time is again, rude, and a poor business decision.
I may have found a few bad apples, but I would not say that detracted from my overall experience of Texworld. I would recommend visiting the next Texworld convention in July 2019 (and free to attend!), for anyone with an interest in fashion, as this convention is really at the forefront of innovation in all the pieces that will add up to the clothing you see in stores later, and helps break down the fashion supply chain in very visual and tactile ways for a consumer to experience and understand.
Hope to see you in July!