Interview with Linda Laderman

Linda Laderman
Linda Laderman
Co-founder and organiser
Textile Forum
Textile Forum

One of the biggest challenges for retailers and brands is to provide instant gratification
Textile Forum is London’s most exclusive biannual luxury fashion fabric show providing inspiration for menswear, womenswear and childrenswear collections, including daywear, eveningwear, bridalwear, lingerie and accessories. Linda Laderman, co-founder and organiser, Textile Forum, provides an overview of what to expect from the up and coming fair and shares her perspective on the apparel retail scene in the United Kingdom.

How will Brexit impact apparel brands and retailers in the United Kingdom?

From feedback from our suppliers, the immediate impact of Brexit was the fluctuation in currency which meant that some companies had to absorb additional costs. As such, there will be a review of prices, though not necessarily immediately. On a more positive front, many fabric suppliers are looking to attend more exhibitions both in the United Kingdom and overseas, so additional funds are being spent on sales and marketing. They are also looking to further invest in their products.

What major factors are influencing the apparel retail scene in the United Kingdom?

The growth in mobile shopping, the influence of social media, the demand for products instantly and a growing demand for personalisation are all influencing everyone in the supply chain. Hence we are seeing some major brands in the country launch their new collections at exhibitions such as London Fashion Week and stream their presentations and immediately have the garments available to buy online. There is also a revival in “artisan” fabrics.

What are the major challenges faced by apparel brands and retailers in the United Kingdom?

As mentioned, one of the biggest challenges is to provide “instant gratification” or see now, buy now, and the impact this will have on the supply chain.

As Siobhan Gehin, partner at Kurt Salmon says, “Retailers and brands need to bring product to market faster but still cost effectively, and the ultimate winners in this change will be those who embrace the customer’s desire for immediate gratification and move quickly to shift their business models to take advantage of this transition.”

According to Kurt Salmon this will have an impact in four areas: 

1. More brands selling direct to the consumer 
2. Reinvention of the wholesale model: the shifts in the landscape will favour wholesalers that can exploit digital and make   product available quickly across geographies
3. Pressure on “fast fashion” players: Zara, H&M and other fast-fashion leaders will be challenged as more aspirational brands move into their space
4. The end of discounting: customers addicted to the “On Sale” drug are transitioning to the “Fresh and New” drug. Retailers and brands that are able to bring new products to the market quickly will be rewarded with a reduction in markdowns.

These changes will require a fundamental reshaping of retailers’ and brands’ sourcing and product development and of their supply chain. Apparel players will also need to focus on building meaningful 1:1 relationships with customers.

What is the percentage of exhibitors in the categories menswear, womenswear, childrenswear, bridalwear, eveningwear, daywear, lingerie, and accessories at Textile Forum?

Textile Forum has a very good cross-section of fabrics covering most end-uses. Luxury fabrics for special occasionwear – whether that be bridal or eveningwear – is probably the strongest classification.

What kinds of luxury fabrics have a growing demand among buyers at Textile Forum?

We attract many different types of fabric buyers from emerging designers to those who buy for theatres and opera house, brands, retailers, established designer and couture houses. The one common theme is that the fabrics have to be available with a small minimum order option and there has to be continuity; buyers can order a swatch, then a sample length and then the bulk order. One area that has probably been extended since Textile Forum began in 2002 is the growth in printed fabrics.

What new innovations and trends in terms of fabrics, yarns, and blends can be expected from the upcoming Textile Forum?

Watch out for fabrics with an artisan feel, sustainable fabrics and fabric with stretch. For bridalwear, soft pinks will be competing with more traditional ivory shades.

How many brands are participating and how many exhibitors are expected? What is the difference in numbers compared to last time?

We will have close to 100 collections available, about a 5 per cent increase on March. In addition to fabric suppliers, we will also have suppliers of buttons, zips, linings, labels, sewing machines, and two garment manufacturers.

Which geographies do the exhibitors come from?

Our exhibitors are mainly from the United Kingdom and Continental Europe as well as some top end companies from Japan and India.

Do you plan to organise events outside the United Kingdom? What are your future expansion plans?

We do not have any plans in the immediate future to expand overseas. As far as expansion of Textile Forum in London is concerned, we will continue to grow organically and search for even more luxurious fabrics from the top suppliers throughout the world.  We celebrate our 15th anniversary in 2017 – a testament that the niche offer of the show works, as a large percentage of our exhibitors have been showing with us for more than 10 years.
Published on: 26/09/2016

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of