Another successful Intertextile Shanghai Home Textiles Autumn edition concluded recently with 1321 exhibitors from 31 countries and regions and 39,189 visitors from 97 countries and regions taking part. Held at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre from 27–29 August, the total exhibition area was 138,000 sq m. Despite the continuing economic challenges in many Western markets, visitor numbers were up slightly on 2012, while the 31 exhibitor countries was a new record for the fair – a reflection that overseas suppliers continue to take advantage of the growth potential in the Chinese market through this show.

Wendy Wen, Senior General Manager of fair organiser Messe Frankfurt, said that the positioning of Intertextile Shanghai Home Textiles as an ideal platform for entering the Asian market, and in particular China, continues to resonate strongly with overseas companies. “Speaking with domestic and international exhibitors over the last three days, I got the sense that there is still room for growth in the Chinese home textiles market,” she said. “Overseas suppliers have also confirmed the strong demand for overseas brands from Chinese consumers, and the features of this fair such as the European and International Halls, the bedding & towelling halls, the sun blind product area, the Intertextile Design Boutique and the Carpet Zone have really helped them to promote their products much more effectively to domestic and international buyers.”

The European Hall in particular is designed to help suppliers from Europe take advantage of the strong demand for imported, high-end products. This is one of the reasons Italian trade fair organiser Proposte made their debut appearance in China with the Proposte China Pavilion.

“All visitors were drawn to the Made in Europe brand, and European interior decoration is evidently a model that Asian visitors are keen to follow now that they are pursuing more refined lifestyles,” said Piercarlo Viganò, President of Proposte. “Exhibitors in the pavilion were generally in agreement that plenty of quality contacts were established at the fair. Partnering with Intertextile Shanghai Home Textiles was a positive move, enabling us to draw on their existing experience in a country so far removed from our own.”

Exhibitors spoken to in the Proposte China Pavilion were happy with the quality and quantity of buyers who came to their booths. “We have exhibited at the Proposte fair in Italy and saw an increasing number of Chinese visitors, so we believe the Chinese market is ready,” said Scott Davidson, Managing Director of British lace and sheers company MYB Textiles Ltd. “This is why we decided to join the Proposte China Pavilion and it has been a fantastic experience. We have been very busy these three days meeting with interior showroom people and designers from China and Korea.”

Other participants in the European Hall were equally as pleased, with the strong demand for Western products noticed by suppliers. “Chinese buyers are purchasing European products because of their strong image, so it’s good to have the European Hall,” said Osman Nuri Canik of Turkish company Elvin who exhibited in the Turkey Pavilion, the largest pavilion at the fair. “Chinese buyers know more about Turkish products than in the past. There is a lot of potential for us here.”

A highlight for many buyers at the fair was the new collections on offer from industry-leading editors such as the JAB Anstoetz Group from Germany, LaCanTouch Decoration from China and Pasaya from Thailand. Li Zheng, of JAB Anstoetz, explained the recent changes in buying habits in the domestic market. “Mid-range customers used to like classical products, but currently modern and contemporary designs are more popular, as they are in Western markets.”

Buyers looking for bedding & towelling products were spoilt for choice at the fair, with some of Europe’s best-known brands, including Bronte, Curt Bauer, Grund, Martinelli, Marzotto and Mundotextil on display. German bedding company Curt Bauer confirmed the demand for European products was still present in China. “Buyers here are looking for high-end items, and German products are very popular with Chinese consumers at the moment,” explained Michael Bauer, MD.

It wasn’t just Chinese buyers that were interested in these products though, with many suppliers happy with the number of overseas visitors at their booths as well. “As a first-time exhibitor we are here to develop contacts in the Chinese market, but we have also met buyers from Korea, Australia and India,” said Jiri Grund, President of the high-end bath mat supplier Grund, from the Czech Republic. “China is still growing and we will continue to participate in this fair as we are confident about China’s future.”

Offering original artwork and designs to buyers, 46 studios from 14 countries and regions participated in the Intertextile Design Boutique this year. Whereas in the past suppliers were hesitant to pay for designs, many exhibitors believe this is changing. “Chinese consumers are getting more sophisticated, and those at the top end of the market understand original designs are a good investment to make,” said Jemma Lewis of British company Creative Journey.

The feedback from Chinese exhibitors was equally positive, and suggested exports to Western markets are beginning to recover. “We have exhibited here for many years and this edition is very good. A lot of export customers have come to our booth, and we have received many orders so far,” said Hantao Yi from Heye Time Spinning, a decorative fabrics supplier. “In fact, our export orders at the fair are double what they were last year, with buyers from the US, Europe, Russia and the Middle East,” he continued.

Bedding supplier Yuyue Home Textile, who export to Europe, the US and Africa, were equally as optimistic. “There are a lot of buyers here this year, and we have had many orders placed with us,” commented the General Manager of the company’s brand, Chunxia Li.

At Intertextile Shanghai Home Textiles buyers from around the world were able to source from nearly 1,000 Chinese exhibitors, but many also took the opportunity to sample what international exhibitors had to offer. A number of these exhibitors were pleased with the amount of overseas buyers they met.

Buyers at the fair were also impressed with the product range and quality on offer. “We came here to find suppliers from China and found many good factory mills,” said Sabine Danneberg from German company Zimmer + Rohde. Elena Klimenko from Alia Collezione, a retailer in Russia, was also pleased. “The show is excellent. This is our first time here and we have found good choices for interior fabrics and curtains.”

Returning visitors also commented on the development of the fair in recent years. “The fair is getting better and better every year in terms of the trends, and quality and quantity of exhibitors. I can find a lot of new exhibitors here and am satisfied with the fair overall,” commented Swiss buyer Stieger Patrick from Engelberte Sheger. “Product quality is improving and it is much better this year,” agreed Jon Stafforas from Westbury Textile of Australia.

Domestic buyer Edward Yao, from BonRun Home Textiles, was impressed with the number of overseas exhibitors. “Many large foreign companies are here, and I can see the improvement both in terms of the number of companies and also the amount of products they have. I’ve also noticed many big exhibitors are launching new products here.”

As well as all the home textile products on offer, visitors to the fair could discover what the future holds through a range of events and displays. Both the international and domestic trend forums revealed what styles will be in fashion in 2014/15. While a number of design & trend seminars and the Interior Design Forum provided more insight into next season’s trends. Forum speaker Kun Dai, the Chief Executive of Beijing Easy-home, believed it was an important event for overseas buyers to understand the local market. “Chinese people are adapting a Westernised and modernised lifestyle while maintaining some traditional Chinese elements. This is something that international brands and designers have to know if they want to be successful in China,” he said.

“Buyers here are definitely interested in Western products as they represent the market trends,” confirmed Patrick Jiang, a buyer from DARA Life Lounge, as well as a speaker at this year’s Interior Design Forum. “I have been to this fair for many years and it is a significant event to learn the latest market developments and trends.”

This year’s involvement of The Woolmark Company also provided extra value for visitors. Organised in conjunction with Wallpaper* magazine, their ‘International Wool Art inspired by The Wool Lab Interiors’ display zone made its debut appearance in Asia at this fair, while ‘The Wool Lab Interiors’ trends were also presented. “The market in China is more mature now, so we returned to this fair to introduce our innovative products,” said The Woolmark Company’s China Country Manager, Xiaoya Wei. “This fair provides us with a platform to capture the Chinese market, and we can meet with a lot of manufacturers here.”

Intertextile Shanghai Home Textiles – Autumn Edition was organised by Messe Frankfurt (HK) Ltd; the Sub-Council of Textile Industry, CCPIT; and the China Home Textile Association (CHTA).

The 2014 spring editions of this fair will be held in Shanghai on 3rd–5th March 2014 and in Guangzhou on 18th–22nd March 2014. The next Intertextile Shanghai Home Textiles – Autumn Edition will be held on 27-29th August 2014.