With Numbers Down, Première Vision Was ‘Slow but Substantial’

PARIS — Slower but substantial: That was the consensus from exhibitors and attendees alike after the latest edition of Première Vision, which saw a slight dip in exhibitor numbers to 1,180, down about 2 percent from last year’s count.

Fewer attendees made the trip to Paris after last year marked the most robust show since before the pandemic. This edition saw 30,340 attendees, down from 34,550 last year.

Still the energy on the floor was dynamic, with calendars booked and stands buzzing.

“There may be less traffic but it’s been a very valuable footfall,” said Sylvia Happel, Lenzig’s head of business development, Europe, who added that this time around there was a broader mix of large brands and retailers alongside local French labels. 

“I would say in comparison to pre-COVID-19, it’s smaller, but for me, it’s the first edition after COVID-19 with a strong frequency in terms of visitors to the stand,” one exhibitor said.

The textile trade fair continued to expand its focus on sustainability, adding manufacturing and smart materials sectors, while the Chanel-backed deadstock supplier L’Atelier des Matières participated for the first time. 

Belgian designer Igor Dieryck’s Hyères Festival triple prize-winning collection was on display as part of the trade show’s longstanding partnership with the fashion festival. He was also attending in his role as a designer, doing double duty in the menswear division of Hermès and at his own independent label. 

Dieryck said working at a large house such as Hermès demonstrates the difficulty in sustainable sourcing with an extensive supply chain, and working on his own label has made clear the price challenges facing younger designers.

“Sustainability is by principle more difficult. I cannot say the opposite. As a young, brand new designer you have of course time, you have budget, and you have a lot of those factors and sustainability is another thing on the plate that makes it more complex.” 

“The whole of fashion is in transition right now. We see it at every fashion week, at every fair,” said Dieryck, of sustainability being top of mind for big houses and smaller designers alike. “Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to not try to work in this way.”

“It’s still one of the important places to work and to gather new ideas,” he said of perusing fabrics and seeing what is on offer at the trade fair.

Giselle Araujo, cofounder of Brazilian brand Artizan, has been attending the fair for more than 20 years, including in her previous role at Levi’s. “It is smaller, but feels more substantial,” she said. 

Araujo highlighted the focus on sustainability as the key to making the trade fair more meaningful, but added that the global economic headwinds are making sourcing a tightrope walk for smaller labels. Currency fluctuations in emerging markets have also made it trickier and impacted purchasing power.

“It’s a recession, right? Consumers are buying but also being picky in the things they are choosing,” she said. “We have to offer quality fabrics but with an affordable price.” 

Right now consumers are keen on 100 percent linen items, Araujo said, but the price has soared in recent months and small brands cannot keep the pace with price pressures. Her brand is trying to find alternatives, including cotton-linen blends that appeal to consumers because they carry that linen label at a more manageable price point. 

At the Alliance for European Flax-Linen and Hemp booth, a spokesperson attributed the spike in prices to the ongoing drought and hot summer in France, Belgium and the Netherlands, where about 95 percent of the world’s fiber is grown, which affected the latest harvest. The spike in temperatures caused output to fall just as interest in the textile is seeing a major uptick in demand.

“A lot of brands cannot afford it,” admitted one fiber producer of their material. “If they’re luxury, they can. But in a lot of cases, even for luxury brands, it’s a little pricier than a conventional material.” In that case, they are open to using blends, but it is still somewhat out of reach for emerging brands. About 40 percent of interested brands are based in Europe, the spokesperson said, while buyers from South Korea and Turkey also showed increased interest.

The Lenzig Group was on hand to launch Pélinova, co-created with Recyc Leather, which combines recycled leather and Lenzig’s Tencel Lyocell fibers. Partner Ganni will use the material in its signature Slouchy Boot style after announcing its intention to eliminate virgin leather from its collections. 

Inside Première Vision textile trade fair January 2024, for Spring Summer 2025 collections.

A look inside Première Vision.

Courtesy Première Vision

Deals were being made during the three-day event. Eastman’s Naia fabric, a cellulose acetate partially made from recycled content, had signed a new licensing agreement the first day of Première Vision. The brand will have a big promotional element to promote its collaboration with the textile. 

The fabric is also promoting itself on social media to directly communicate with customers, who are beginning to recognize and seek out specific sustainable textiles across brands. “The sustainability story is a difficult one to understand. So we need to get to the consumer level,” said Carolina Sister Cohn, Eastman’s global marketing leader for textiles. Collaborators including brands like Zalando’s in-house brand Zign are using the Naia textile as well as putting it front and center in its marketing as customers begin to seek out more sustainable materials.

Naia, which was showcasing pieces from brands like Stella McCartney and Zara at its stand, also had dresses from the new Reformation bridal collection launched Jan. 24. That collection showcases the new material Naia Renew ES, made from 60 percent recycled content. 

Denim-maker Isko observed a broad mix of buyers from Central Europe and the U.S. for its first appearance at the trade show. The company, which normally specializes in cotton textiles, was on hand to debut a new viscose and recycled polyester blend for the casual trouser market. The company decided to attend Première Vision instead of the usual denim show in June to target a more diverse customer. 

In the loop on recycling

Isko was also on hand to launch its new textile-to-textile recycling venture, Re&Up. The company will take back brands’ pre-consumer deadstock or post-consumer waste, sort it, and — depending on if it is pure cotton or a polyester blend — recycle it using either a mechanical or thermos-chemical method. The fibers will be re-spun into new textiles so brands can offer a circular product to their customers.

Isko has a current capacity of 80,000 tons at its facility in Turkey, with a goal of 1 million tons by 2030, following the completion of an additional facility and then will expand to hubs in America, Asia and Europe.

Swedish company Renewcell, which has hit roadblocks getting its fiber-to-fiber recycled product to market, had circular business manager Jenny Fredricsdotter on hand to make a pitch to buyers. She was clear that more brands need to buy in order to make the recycling business viable.

“The main reason is the economy in general [and] price margins. I think many brands are struggling,” she said of reasons they are holding back. “It’s a tough market, and of course not always is sustainability prioritized. When it’s a discussion of money, sustainability is usually moved down. 

“Speaking to other innovators in the landscape, there’s a lot of talking, but there’s not as much action when it comes to order placement. Because at the end of the day, that is what will make the business happen,” she added. 

While legislation is on the horizon in the European Union, and many of the bloc’s priorities are broadly outlined but not yet specific as legislation winds its way through the European Parliament and country-by-country approvals, brands are not yet moving.   

“They are aware it’s coming, but they don’t know yet what it will mean for them in reality. They are waiting a bit to understand what it will mean for them. What will be compulsory, how will they manage in this space to understand what kind of resources they need to put into sustainability and how their product mix will be affected and changed,” one supplier said. 

“Each day we have a new piece of legislation,” Cohn said. Brands need to anticipate the next rounds of legislation. Cohn said each region is approaching sustainability in different ways, with Europe, the U.S. and China focusing on different measures. Europe is focusing on waste generation, recyclability and circularity, the U.S. tends to have a social aspect, while China is big on carbon footprint. 

“Each part of the world is on a different level,” she said, adding that any moves China makes would likely be implemented very quickly. “So you’d better be prepared. We are working very hard in China to make sure we are on top of what they are thinking, and we are ready.” 

Cohn added that brand conversations are also beginning to circle around not just material content but chemical treatments such as solvents. “This is something evolving very, very quickly in Europe,” she said. The bloc is exploring banning PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals,” with a draft proposals on new regulations expected later this year.

Collaborative collection

Textile company Positive Materials, manufacturer Petratex and parent company PDS Ventures used Première Vision as the launch platform for its Everloop collection, a collaboration between half a dozen next-gen material innovators to codesign a sustainable capsule. Amphico, Materra, Pact, Ponda, Savian by Biofluff and Nature Coatings participated in the project to work together on garments.

The collection was created to cross-test different innovations in a manufacturing setting. “What we are trying to do is showcase all the possibilities around [the materials] and how innovation can be real,” said Jorge Miguel Ribeiro, Positive Materials co-chief executive officer. The intent was also to help the young innovators learn how to think and work collectively on garment solutions.

Positive Materials allows the companies to produce small-scale runs of their textiles as they work on scaling up, something that is not always available to small, experimental companies.

“The supply chain is still very bulk oriented, and our value proposition relies on being agile. Otherwise we cannot push innovation because innovation comes in an [minimum viable product]-first approach and you need to be able to push through that,” he said of production volumes. “Of course, we’d like these materials to go mainstream, and then commercially generate revenues, but the starting point is what’s missing, the starting point is filling that gap.”

Positive Materials highlighted Materra’s partnership with fast-fashion brand Mango on an upcoming capsule collection as one example.

Materra cofounder Edward Brial said the lack of standardized practices and approaches to working with new materials is one of the biggest challenges in scaling up throughout the supply chain while keeping creative teams happy.

“We are working out different ways of processing the material, educating teams internally because usually the fiber can cross most of the garments that they work with. But then it’s a big [challenge], if we have a repeat order of material, making sure that there’s still flexibility so that designers aren’t too disrupted in their workflow.”

The main stage at Première Vision textile trade fair Paris in January 2024, for Spring Summer 2025 collections.

The main stage at Première Vision.

Courtesy Premiere Vision

Tech talks

The two dedicated talk areas had a full schedule addressing regulatory and tech changes in sourcing, with several panels addressing upcoming European Union regulations and the systemic changes that will come about from integrating artificial intelligence systems.

Workflows are about to change, according to Heuritech fashion and creative director Julie Pont. The company’s trend forecasting, and predictive design AI solution can help brands reduce overstock and meet sustainability targets through essentially deciding what product lines and color will work in a market. Brands can work out timing, product and assortment at a granular level.

Pont said that while designers and other creatives are trepidatious about generative AI, the industry should embrace the streamlining of product offerings.

“We know the retailers are already thinking about how AI can actually help you to have better experience in store because the assortments can be adapted to your needs,” she said.

“Everything related to your brand and to your company can be completely proven by data, and this data management costs a lot. It’s a lot of effort for human beings. But for an AI, it’s like a snap. It is something that can elude people that a data manager or analyst to go through their analysis way further with more power with less time.”

She said that while buyers and creatives often operate from “gut feeling,” data can help guide purchasing decisions on textiles and colors.

In addition to AI, blockchain tech will be increasingly important to brands, in part because of the coming EU regulations on circularity. Brands will need to be able to identify their products for life cycle assessments and waste-handling requirements. Arianee CEO Pierre-Nicolas Hurstel said that an entire new infrastructure connecting physical products with software and identifiers is going to need to be built over the next two to three years as rules start to roll out before 2030.

“None of us are ready, by the way, for what’s coming,” he said. The mandated digital product passport will also offer companies new ways to connect with consumers and offer upsells or additional services, such as item repair, and enable product resale.

“Until that is happens, there’s no way that will be enough scale to dramatically reduce the cost of operations of platforms and allow the emergence of royalty-based business models for brands,” Hurstel said.

Countries in the mix

Visitors from 125 countries attended the trade show. Local French attendees were still the top ticket holders, with buyers from Kering brands such as Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga attending, alongside smaller brands that show during Paris Fashion Week, like 032c and Dries Van Noten.

Italy, Turkey, the U.K., Spain and China rounded out the ranks of the top attendees.

A spokesperson from Première Vision assured that the expanded New York version, which took place Jan. 17 and 18, and the upcoming Shenzhen show, which will take place April 10 to 12, are not cannibalizing the Paris showcase. Nor is the Blossom show, which took place on Dec. 13 and caters to luxury houses. 

The Shenzhen version is less trend-focused, while the New York version has more mass market and emerging brands attending. There are lower minimums for smaller brands and startups there, that make it more accessible to emerging brands in the local market. 

That fair is also onboarding new suppliers and looking for sustainable factories in emerging markets, such as South America, to display there. “It’s kind of a trial period for Paris,” the spokesperson said. 

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