The SPINEXPO exhibition of March 2021 was greatly anticipated after a year of the ‘new normal’ with higher travel restrictions and faltering industry gatherings. With few international travellers and exhibitors, the SPINEXPO 36th session had a larger share of focus on the local audience with less English translations overall. The shifted focus onto storytelling and thought leadership was welcome given the huge challenges industry leaders are currently navigating.
The four trend stories for Spring Summer 2022 were ‘The Love Within’ ‘The Move Forward’, ‘The Escape Away’, ‘The Dream Abound’, and each held a strong focus on humanity and emotion.
The Love Within
The ‘Love Within’ story, partially inspired by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma is inspired by how we have created our own bubbles ‘to protect ourselves and our loved ones during this stressful time’. Situated within the 2nd trend forum it focused on comfortable woollens, cashmere and many new blends of fibre which offer a variety of approaches to being more sustainable such as NAIA, paper yarns and was broken down into varying forms of love; Protective, Bubble, Soft, Natural and Open. These themes were also seen in the form of detailing ideas later in the show.
The Move Forward
‘The Move Forward’ included sub-groups: ‘Light Speed’ focusing on straight angular futuristic geometrics in muted/cool colours, ‘Liquid Progression’ provided a more fluid and organic feel, ‘Moulded Movement’ broke into honeycomb-like geometrics, ‘Flowing Grid’ showed us soft undulating architectural grid surfaces, lastly ‘Forward Flex’ opens out into lattice-work and soft wire-like meshes.
The Escape Away
‘The Escape Away’ addresses our nostalgia and new recognition of nature, borne by pandemic deprivation of it. “We seek calm and want to be at one with nature … A palette for a slow-motion moment to seek simple reinvention, these colours draw from the treasures found in the pockets of our childhood were we carefully collected our discoveries.” The fantasy is a resort, whether we are able to live out in real or confined to our imagination, including minerals, sea-like forms and trimmings. ‘Underwater Drops’ dropped stitches and ‘Light Turbulence’s’ regular ripple patterns sit alongside Rocky Shores cool nodules and twisting net-like elements. ‘Granular’ looks went beyond this trend story and were to be seen as a strong macro trend in swatches across the show. ‘Outer Fringe’ brought us beautiful refined sequential feathered embellishment in grid-like patterned swatches. ‘Pure Escape’s natural linen and paper yarns updated the ‘natural’ offerings of past with basketry shapes and thicknesses. Fisherman themes were prevalent in the story and were seen in other areas of the show.
The Dream Abound
The ‘Dream Abound’ allowed us to dream big and colourful, abundantly celebrating maximal hues combos, rainbows and pattern. This story was about anticipation of travel, holidays, joy and play. Embellishment and garlands were key to the story, celebrating cultural richness and ceremony. ‘Bespoke Fantasy’ was collaging fun brought to life in knit, a mash-up of furry bubbles, handicraft and text. ‘Painted Reverie’ developed past season’s ombre into vibrant watercolour scenes and woven-like paint-look swatches using contrasting novelty yarns and up-cycling techniques. ‘Fun Explosion’ incorporated fringing and movement reminiscent of ‘colour run’ races run around the world. ‘Candy Ribbon’ employed generous use of ribbons to create extravagant optimistic knitwear to be worn joyfully. ‘Summer Block’ basketry techniques shone a spotlight on the humble and simple-living humanity behind their making.
In this show edition, in addition to designer proposals for Autumn/Winter 2022 design direction, we find a new ‘Mid Point’ presentation including a summary of where we find ourselves and where we must go next. The ‘business as usual’ mindset is not enough and this is a trend in itself as Spinexpo organisers explain: “This year of multiple changes has divided companies into two categories: those which innovate with creativity and intelligence … and those which remain passive, concentrating on quick sales and substantial discounts. The first group will emerge from this year stronger but the second will face a tough fight with competitors where the lowest price wins.”
The almost absolute focus was on sustainability and the second trend forum played its part in supporting this, focusing on jersey was helpfully divided by yarn type; cashmere, paper yarn, NAIA/Tencel, Ecovero, ‘re-cycled’, organic, linen, silk, cotton, wool, all surrounded by further commercial applications and swatches. This season saw a wide exploration into the blending of differing sustainable fibres, more offerings like this allow brands to choose their fibres based increasingly on price and customer-fit, democratising the way customers can buy into sustainable product.
The full connotations of sustainability really seem to have been absorbed by the central think tanks of major mills and investigations of the subject every which way were given the green light and are now running full steam ahead.
UPW Lab was fully focused on sustainability and end-use/washability, including sub-groups; biodegradability, close-loop production, sustainable polyesters, organic agriculture and certified dyes. Earth colours is a new initiative with Archroma promoting the use of four natural dyed colours. New natural yarn updates include ‘Eco Flaxen’ (machine washable Cyclo Polyester blended with linen), ‘Raku’ a soft blend of cotton and hemp and Wynwood a super-soft speckled yarn incorporating silk noil, hemp and linen, Tanaka blends cashmere with machine-washable cotton. Seacell, a kind of Lyocell from Europe with antioxidant properties is continued from past seasons. They say their goal is “to offer 100% sustainable collection within the coming three years and acknowledge that ‘limitations have made it hard to find the eco one to replace it, also small production of these new items mean supply is not enough. EU and US continue to be the largest purchasers of sustainable yarns, but China is paying attention and following the growth of the sector.”
New recycled yarn evolutions including rayons such as those from Xinnuo and Best Shan indicate that we could really be moving away from virgin man-mades like polyester or chemical-intensive fibres in future if supply chains can handle the quantities. Millefille showed also showed a recycled viscose yarn.
Best Shan offered a focused collection of bestsellers plus one or two totally new items which have a high chance to become more widespread, such as the paper yarn seen there two years ago which is now a highlight. This year’s new item was ‘soybean’ yarn in a beautiful buttery un-dyed tone, in numerous variations including a boucle.
AA Global explained they “wish to totally replace polyester by recycled in their products in future”. Their efforts towards sustainability in terms of factory efficiencies were laudable; their new Dry Dye ‘zero-water’ technology in Shanghai for the very first time globally. ‘Based on an average dyeing factory’s consumption in China, we cut 55000KGS of water, 3.5M3 of gas and 100kW.h of electricity. At the same time improving colour fastness 3.5-4.0 and faster delivery of average 15-30 days. The large cut in water usage is due to regular dye pigment is added at the polyester recycling stage. Currently they offer 150 colours, and the yarn price is much more competitive.
Topline is also focusing on supply chain process; they are opening a brand-new AI-run cashmere- spinning factory – due to open mid-2021 – where all yarns are machine-produced with little need for human interaction. The dyeing counterpart is already open for trials for new and existing customers. Providing ever-more cashmere options was their focus, including recycled cashmere, anti-bacterial, NAIA acetate blends and Tencel blends which, coming out around 35 USD, offer customers great value.
Yarn & Colors offered two main ranges including ‘Snowy’ sustainable and bio-degradable items using Ecovero and Sorona, also ‘Ecocraft’ including anti-bacterial, anti-UV and anti-pollen properties and even a new hylauronic acid care pure organic cotton, all of which is FSC compliant. They included applications for knit in masks and new novelties included heat-sensitive and in particular reflective yarns which could gain traction in the name of remote work in hybrid athleisure categories.
In addition to the offerings, we see a very fresh-looking take on knitted accessories area besides the regular trend forum and exhibitor booths, including more functional larger items.
Photo credit: SPINEXPO
The Love Within…
The Move Forward…
The Escape Away…
The Dream Abound…