Loud or quiet, harmonious or shrill, calm or moving, fast or slow – the fabric trends for autumn/winter 2023/24, which were recently shown at Munich Fabric Start, indicate extremely contrasting tendencies. In the broadest sense, it is about the interplay between the real world, whose fashion needs to become more sustainable, and the digital world, where the surprising wins.
Organising a trade fair in times of a pandemic is a challenge. But there were few signs of this at Munich Fabric Start, which ended on Thursday. The team led by managing director Sebastian Klinder and creative director Frank Junker welcomed around 900 exhibitors to the Munich Order Center (MOC), the Bluezone, the Keyhouse area and, most recently, the halls of Motorworld just opposite. “We are feeling the after-effects of the pandemic just like everyone else, but we haven't done without anything that we also offered at our previous fairs. On the contrary, we've taken things up a notch,” said Sebastian Klinder.
New segment: ‘The Source’ for manufacturing
Instead of shrinking because, for example, Chinese exhibitors could not attend, Klinder has enlarged the fair and expanded the range of products. Not only did the number of exhibiting design studios double, but in the new Hall Eight, located opposite the MOC on the first floor of Motorworld, the fair was able to present an area for manufacturing for the first time. “We try to represent the industry as completely as possible, “1 stop for fashion in 3 days, so to speak. People don't travel as much anymore,” explained Frank Junker.
The new area ‘The Source’ for international production presented 65 selected international manufacturing companies and all-in-one suppliers showing end-to-end solutions from PLV to white label. The expansion was a risk, but came at the right time. “We only started planning the hall four months ago and got a huge response. We have noticed that the industry is trying to move closer to the EU and thinking of new value chains,” said Klinder.
Fabric trends: Between feel-good atmosphere and metaverse
After striking fabrics set the tone in the current seasons, autumn/winter 2023/24 is all about emphasising the tactile and the feel-good factor. “It's all about moving surfaces with 3D looks, padded materials, fake fur, wild silk, linen,” explained trend analyst and curator Jo Baumgartner. High-quality materials emphasise the sustainability aspect of long durability; regional products such as Bavarian wool or regional hemp are also gaining in importance. In contrast, the metaverse comes up as a source of inspiration with its glittering, shiny looks. Bright colours, lurex, iridescent foil prints transfer virtual worlds into reality and inspire fashion. “Pink is celebrating a comeback among many fabric manufacturers,” added Baumgartner.
Post-pandemic speed up or slow down?
Carl Tillessen also focused on binary trends in his DMI Trend Lecture. “You have to know not only what is in, but also why. Only then can you plan and identify long-term trends.” The pandemic has divided consumers into two camps: While some saw the deceleration and the return to what is important as something positive, others saw their drive thwarted. Both tendencies - speeding up and slowing down - currently determine fashion and confront the industry with the question of which direction to choose. “We see a lot of contradictions at the moment: on the one hand, people cleaned out during the pandemic to downsize, but at the same time, they bought more than ever before,” said Tillessen. Not fashion at first, but as soon as lockdowns eased up, revenge shopping generated huge sales for luxury labels and low-cost retailers alike.
But the fact is, says Tillessen, that the fashion industry will consume more and more resources, if only because of population growth, no matter how green the products become in the future. “That means we have to move away from fast fashion and towards slow fashion.”
Second-hand and virtual fashion could satisfy future fashion hunger
But the young generation in particular “will not, does not want to and cannot do without fast fashion”, added Tillessen. They have grown up with fast fashion and not least social media promotes the need for fast fashion and fast consumption. He therefore sees second-hand fashion and virtual fashion as a way out. “Second-hand has the same price structure as fast fashion and is often even faster in terms of fashion. On Ebay, all the things that are on Tiktok right now are already available.”
NFTs and virtual products are not only lucrative for luxury labels; brands like Nike already make many millions of US dollars in sales with them. Real fashion, on the other hand, will inevitably become more expensive, he says. This paves the way for higher-quality, more durable and timeless products. So what is his answer to whether we should speed up or slow down? “We should speed up to slow down,” concluded Tillessen.
This article was originally published on FashionUnited.de. Edited and translated by Simone Preuss.