New brands are starting to fill in void that is being left as big buyers reduce orders.
Mills came to New York this summer hoping to connect with American power buyers (those mega brands and retailers who can place those sought after volume orders), but what they found was a growing market of small to medium sized brands.
That was not necessarily bad news. For those mills that thrive on volume business, the summer fairs were a disappointment. But for an increasing number who are starting see the benefits of trading off volume for better prices, New York is beginning to look more appealing.
At Premiere Vision New York
At Premiere Vision New York, mills said that business was “stable”, in both Europe and the U.S. Featuring a wide range of better to high-end primarily European and Turkish mills, there were certainly plenty of innovative new products for buyers to choose from.
“We are trying to get into the U.S. market,” explained Cana Alkan at Yekpa Tekstil (Turkey) showing us a beautiful turquoise colored fabric that she Nordstrom had purchased from them. Kimteks (Turkey) was also hoping to grow their business in the U.S. “You must be patient…it takes a long time to enter the U.S. market,” said Alpay Eryilmaz.
At Lemar (Portugal) the companies collection of striped men’s casual and beachwear fabrics were selling well. Each pattern is our original design, said Manuela Araujo, explaining what buyers liked about the collection.
“People want something new. Buyers are looking at patterns, they’re tired of basics,” said Maurizio Bellandi, who was presenting a wool program for coats.
“We need to something special and give customers the opportunity to customize. We are very flexible and work with customers to meet their requirements,” said Tania Menozzi at Rawtex (Italy) adding, “US buyers will pick our basic items but then they want to customize them.”
At Spinexpo New York
The sun-filled exhibition hall that housed Spinexpo New York was a magnet for many of the new brands that seem to be a growing force in the market.
While spinners and knitters said that most of the big brands preferred to attend the European fairs, they were generally quite happy to find some new (and less price sensitive) customers in New York.
“We saw most of our big customers in Europe, but this fair has turned to be quite good and we’ve met many new customers,” said Andreas Diebenbusch at Suedwolle (Germany).
“The fair has been good, but overall business is tough,” said Samuel Lee at Regal (China). “Consumers are buying less and garments are becoming more durable.” Unquestionably, consumer buying habits have shifted from non-stop consumption of low priced garments to buying fewer and better. The result is fewer pieces being sold. “We haven’t seen the bottom yet,” said Mr. Lee, commenting on what he saw as a continuing decline in business.
Spinners noted a growing demand for fancy yarns, since using a more interesting yarn can elevate even a basic garment. “Buyers see it as a value add,” said Mr. Lee.
Flexibility is also a word that comes up in almost every conversation. “We can meet any price point,” said Maggie Choi at Yarn Talk Textile (Taiwan). “We are very flexible.”
For most spinners becoming more flexible has meant expanding their stock service to offer a wider range of colors and qualities. By now, a large percent already have extensive in-stock programs, with very low or no MOQs.
At Consinee, a new collection featuring llama hair was getting a good response, as was their new Alpha yarn that had a cloud-like effect.
However most agreed that the top sellers in the U.S. are easy-care, 100% cotton and clean surfaces.
So despite smaller orders from big buyers, and increasingly tight lead times, overall the business is somewhere between “stable” to “better” or “good”. And even though we heard persistent complaints about price, the overall mood is the market was optimistic.