If you think that our ready-to-wear tradeshow coverage is way too insider-y for a consumer focussed publication, get ready to go one level deeper. Grab a paddle we’re headed upstream! In a subculture where the material something is made out of regularly trumps the garment itself, we find it helpful to highlight new developments in the textile industry that you’ll eventually see (or we hope you’ll see) on your favorite brands.
You may have noticed that the ready-to-wear tradeshows present two seasons ahead of what’s in stores, well the fabric producers go a full three to four seasons in advance so the brands have a chance to pick out their fabrics.
The best venues for the latest and greatest in denim and specialty textiles are the Kingpins and Denim by PV tradeshows, and you’ll see all the major players in attendance at both. The most recent showing of Kingpins happened a couple weeks ago in New York, and Nick and I were on the floor.
The word on everyone’s lips was “performance”. It seemed as though having a high-quality fabric wasn’t enough this season, your denim also had to “do something”: resist abrasion, wick away moisture, repel mosquitoes, what have you. Denim manufacturers must be feeling the heat from the athleisure/yoga pants market, as many of the offerings we saw were about making denim do so much more than fade.
Artistic Fabric and Garment Industries
The most inventive mill in Pakistan may have changed its name, but it hasn’t changed it style. Artistic Fabric and Garment Industries (née Artistic Fabric Mills) had a very special collaboration to display with Roy Slaper (yes, that Roy). Henry Wong of AFGI tapped Roy to design a series of concept garments to show off some of the mill’s new fabrics. None of these models will likely make it to production, but nonetheless it’s fascinating to see Roy experiment with different materials, styles, and fits than he would be able to produce under his own brand. They even got the scallop-overlock stitching down.
Dyneema DMS Denim
Kiss your blowouts goodbye. One of the more exciting things we encountered at the show was DMS‘s newly developed “unbreakable” Dyneema denim. Dyneema is a synthetic fiber that’s lighter and stronger than kevlar. It’s been used for decades as rope mooring freighter ships in harbor and in cut resistant gloves, but only now have they woven it with cotton to create a fabric that’s nearly indestructible.
They had samples on display with large cuts down the center and dared anyone willing to try and rip them in half. You’ll sooner rip off your arms. This fabric is incredibly light, double faced, and can survive upwards of three seconds on a belt sander–or a 30 meter skid on open pavement. The fabric comes in multiple strengths depending on the blend and is already hitting the market.
Cone’s latest selvedge development looks back, back to the denim of the 60s and 70s with the open spun fabrics that produced super soft and mottled fades of yesteryear (think Bruce on the cover of Born in the USA). Other noteworthy new fabrics were performance blends that shed stains, wick moisture, etc. Their aim here is to broaden the tent that is denim to consumers who are looking for more out of their jeans like the outdoorsy Patagonia crowd.
They also had a historical and artistic booth set up at the show that featured past Cone history including the winning designs from the Cone student fashion show in April. And they also had one of our Bank Bags on display!
Another highlight of this Kingpins iteration was the extensive selection of Japanese mills. The show usually draws a handful, but this time around they had at least a dozen in their own dedicated section.
Shibaya Mills (above) had a wide selection of wabash, dobbies, and denims, including one that’s woven like its selvedge all the way around. Eat your heart out, Studio D’artisan.
We’ve seen more from Shuttle Notes on the ready-to-wear side as of late as the mill has launched their own house brand, but the wholesale fabrics keep on coming. They had a nearly endless selection of shirting weight denims, chambrays, flannels, oxfords, and much more.
We haven’t covered too much from Japan’s Amhot in the past, but they are a regular favorite of Mohsin Sajid’s Endrime brand. They had a variety of multi-colored denims on display including quite a few wool and linen blends.