The fourth edition of the Texhibition sourcing fair in Istanbul took place from September 13th to 15th at the city's exhibition center near Atatürk Airport. All three days were lively and the fair was well attended. According to official figures, 7,000 visitors were registered on the first day; 5,000 of them from Turkey and 2,000 from abroad. In total, the organisers expect around 20,000 visitors, which would be slightly more than the 18,525 visitors in March 2023.
Since the first edition in March 2022, fair attendance has steadily increased - despite the impact of the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria in early February 2023, the March edition recorded 50 percent more visitors than the debut show a year earlier, but slightly less than the second edition in September 2022, which attracted more than 20,600 visitors.
Turkey is the second largest supplier of textiles to the EU and the fifth largest in the world, ranking seventh in global cotton production. Textile exports reached a volume of 6 billion US dollars (about 5.64 billion euros or 4.9 billion British pounds) last year.
Texhibition to expand further
In three well-attended halls, more than 440 manufacturing companies exhibited knitwear, woven goods, denim, yarns, prints and accessories on around 13,000 square meters. Knitwear stallls took up the most space, followed by woven goods, denim, print and accessories.
Yarn manufacturers were unfortunately a bit underrepresented, which is to change from the next edition in March 2024 onwards. "We are expecting 500 to 600 exhibitors and will provide two more halls,” said Fatih Bilici, president of the Texhibition committee and vice president of the Istanbul Textile Export Association İTHİB.
Over its four editions since inception, Texhibition has been steadily increasing in terms of exhibition space too: It started with just one hall in March 2022, expanded to two halls at the next edition, and three halls in 2023. Yarn manufacturers in particular are expected to benefit from the expansion.
Dates remain fixed
However, the timing at the end of the international trade fair calendar remains the same. Even if most buyers and exhibitors have already visited big international fairs like Premier Vision in Paris or Munich Fabric Start, Istanbul will remain the last stop for those who are still looking for something for their collections.
“July is too early because the collections are not ready yet. In addition, many people are on holiday,” said Bilici, explaining the choice of date. And who knows, should Texhibition really grow into “the most important textile fair in the world”, as the organisers are hoping, then this could well influence the ordering behaviour at the earlier fairs.
Exhibitors seemed satisfied with the timing and the steady flow of visitors, which translated into orders. “You meet people who really want to do business,” stated Elif Beğen, export manager at Migiboy, Turkey's largest fabric manufacturer. “You can reach customers very quickly and meet interesting customers,” she added. Migiboy produces 90 percent of its products for export, and even the goods sold locally sooner or later end up outside the country.
New Trend Area groups fabrics by themes
One well received innovation was the Trend Area in Hall 5, whose aim was to create an awareness of sustainability. The eight different areas helped visitors quickly find what they were looking for: Glitter fabrics in the “Lumino Noctis” area, for example; digital prints at “Digital Uprise”; natural fabrics and soothing textures at “Serenity”; recyclable fabrics at “Eco Revolution”; ethical, vegan and eco-friendly fabrics at “Vangard Movement” and “Environmental Activism”; traditional to innovative fabrics at “Reconceptual Beauty” and fabrics that address healing, meditation and self-care at “Mindful Escapes.”
Each fabric sample was labeled with a reference to its composition as well as the manufacturer, along with the booth number. Accessories such as buttons, zippers and the like that matched each area were also highlighted, including vegan clothing labels.
Sustainability still an afterthought
Apart from a large poster at the entrance with the theme of the fair “United for Climate in Textiles”, there was little to be seen of sustainability - no events, actions or even information to go deeper into the topic. The Trend Area presented above revealed, at second glance, even among the fabrics touted as sustainable or vegan, many blended fabrics, many of them with petroleum- or plastic-based fabrics, proving that what is currently being produced is what is in demand, what sells, and that is not sustainable.
The exhibitors attested to this fact. Even if the demand for sustainable products is high, as Beğen from fabric producer Migiboy confirmed, saleability comes before sustainability. “We tried a hemp collection two years ago, but the fibre length was shorter and less satisfactory,” recalled Besim Özek, head of strategy and business development at Bossa, one of Turkey's largest integrated textile companies.
In addition, the fibre was relatively hard; plus, recycled fibres have limitations when it comes to dyeing. Pure white, for example, is not possible. This is where Özek says consumers should be educated so that they understand what sustainable fibres, fabrics and textiles can and cannot do.
More sustainable monofabrics or sustainable alternatives such as hemp or nettle do not stand up to the high demands - for example in denim - and are therefore discarded after a few sample collections. For Özek, who in addition to being an İTHİB board member is also a farmer, it is important to start from the ground up: with regenerative agriculture, for example. “This is the future, more than organic cotton,” according to Özek. “It's good for the soil and the yield.”
Oguzhan Kuz of denim producer and wholesaler Haseller agreed. For him, the company's “Raw Dreams” line, which uses fewer chemicals and water, is more sustainable than the company's “Less is more” line, which uses hemp, linen, Tencel, recycled polyester and organic cotton.
Although it may appear on the outside that the effects of the earthquakes have been mitigated, the textile and cotton centres around the hard-hit area of Marash continue to struggle. Even if the production facilities may not have been physically affected, their workers certainly have been — some are still homeless, displaced or living in tents. The same goes for the supply chain and the allocation of raw materials. But business continues and orders must be fulfilled.
“Some people forget very quickly and push you very hard,” said Seyda Zümrütoğlu. However, the sales and marketing manager for Europe at Kipas Holding, one of the largest fully integrated production facilities in Europe, is quick to add that good partnerships with key customers have been maintained and their orders fulfilled throughout. “We are about 90 percent recovered and more stable than last year.” She also reported that newer buildings with the latest technology were not affected and that a new dyeing plant will replace an old one that will be completed in about two years.
The next edition of Texhibition will be held from 6th to 8th March 2024.
FashionUnited was invited to visit Texhibition in Istanbul by its organisers.