One can't hope to remain relevant in the textiles-apparel-fashion industry by giving the four-yearly ITMA a miss. ITMA 2019 at Barcelona this June underscored this fact.

The import and the scale of the event was such that even as it was palpably drawing to an end, no one was talking of the goings-on at ITMA 2019 Barcelona, but ITMA Milan 2023. Indeed. Textile technology-textile innovation, if you may-is moving at such a frenetic pace that what you would have seen today in Barcelona might just as well be obsolete by the time you are home. That, of course, is a hyperbole, but you get the drift.

Themed around 'Innovating the World of Textiles', the 18th edition of ITMA, the world's most established and anticipated textiles and garment technology exhibition, drew to a close on June 26 in Barcelona, Spain, leaving thousands of industry visitors thirsting for more. The next ITMA has been announced: it will be held in Fiera Milano, Milan, Italy, from June 8-14, 2023. An ITMA press release declared, "Some exhibitors, happy with their participation, have already started making plans for the next show." And so is industry. Four years would have gone by before you know it.

The global textiles and apparel manufacturing industry had converged at the Catalonian city on the Mediterranean coast, "chalking up new records for the exhibition which has been held every four years since 1951." According to the organiser, the event featured many exciting new product launches and innovative technologies and products, including those that leverage the Internet of Things, by 1717 exhibitors from 45 countries.

CEMATEX, the European Committee of Textile Machinery Manufacturers, and owner of ITMA and ITMA ASIA, reported that the industry support from visitors and exhibitors was "tremendous," resulting in a record-breaking number of exhibitors. CEMATEX president, Fritz P Mayer, gushed, "The digital transformation of the textile and garment manufacturing value chain and sustainability concerns of the industry have driven up visitor interests in ITMA 2019. We had a strong turnout, despite trade tensions and poor business sentiments. Many of our exhibitors were pleasantly surprised with the large number of serious buyers attending the exhibition. They were also impressed with presence of new visitor segments, such as bigger numbers of fashion and sports brands. Considering that for this ITMA edition, the exhibition duration has been shortened from eight to seven days, we still enjoyed good visitorship."

Yet, a week was not enough for the 105,000 visitors who flew in from as many as 137 countries after four years of planning ahead. The top five countries where visitors came from were Spain (11 per cent), Italy (10 per cent), India (8 per cent), Turkey and Germany (7 per cent). They were followed by France, United States, Portugal, Brazil, Pakistan, China and the United Kingdom.