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What buyers want from the denim industry

By Kristopher Fraser


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Kingpins, the international denim tradeshow, has come and gone, and the conversation on everyone's lips this season was, of course, sustainability. The purpose of tradeshows is to give buyers a chance to peruse and learn about new season offerings and shop for their stores. While Instagram and social media have arguably the biggest affect on fashion trends, buyers still have a big role to play in what trends customers are offered.

One of the things buyers are looking for right now is more education from sellers on their product, in addition to sustainability. "We have to start at the beginning part of the buying-purchasing system, which is tradeshows," said Kerry Bannigan, founder of the conscious fashion campaign, to FashionUnited. "Tradehows are a key element to that, so we have to ask ourselves what we can do. We have panels, there's tagging, there's information in the apps. We need to use all touch points that we can to give them the information. It's also crucial that it's not overwhelming. They are here to buy, they are here to connect with people, and if we want to shift their buying habits, we need to look at how we can get them soundbites and welcome them in."

Buyers want more eco-conscious denim products

As part of this effort, Bannigan's organization has started holding one-on-one consultations on site at trade shows where retailers can book an appointment and come in and share what their concerns are or what they are looking to do with their retail stores. This helps show organizers connect them to the right people and brands based on their needs.

One of buyers biggest concerns has been getting connected to the right people. People often come to trade shows and just go to their usual vendors, and call it a day. It's become very difficult to connect with anyone new. Bannigan emphasizes that her company isn't trying to take away or shift business from any longstanding partnerships they have, but, rather, add to their business and encouraging them to make smarter choices about who they are already buying from.

As with everything, cost becomes a factor, but Bannigan says it's about being realistic and buyers and brands working together. "They have budgets, and we have to look at the ranges and realms of what they've got to work with," she said to FashionUnited. "We need to keep introducing more methods and ways for them to learn about products."

Katie Golinczak, founder and designer of denim label Swonne, says that right now the biggest focus for buyers, especially in menswear, is comfort, but buyers are asking and demanding for sustainability. "Sustainability and how products are sustainable is always asked about, and the market is definitely going that way," Golinczak said to FashionUnited. "They aren't going as far as to ask how things are sourced, but they are asking questions about recycled denim and sustainable processes."

Golinczak is also doing her part to help educate her shoppers on the importance of sustainability. On her website there is an entire section devoted to sustainability explaining where her fabrics are from and all the eco-friendly processes they do. "MR Magazine" also recently did an article on her calling her jeans the green jeans. All of her jeans have recycled yarn and are made with minimal water and chemicals.

On the production side, buyers are demanding more sustainability from manufacturers as well. Pacific Jeans, a manufacturing company based in Sri Lanka, has begun offering laser options for designs on jeans, which is void of any water or chemical processes, creating zero environmental impact.

"The selling point for everyone is sustainability, and everyone is talking about how much they can give back to the environment," said Harshana Perera, manager merchandising at Pacific Jeans, to FashionUnited. "While this isn't giving back anything, at least it isn't having a negative impact on the environment. Sustainability is the main marketing trend right now."

At this current point in history when environmental impact has become crucial to human survival, fashion is doing its part to reduce its environmental footprint. Buyers have gotten smarter about their choices, and this industry trend will become an absolute staple and necessity for brands at this rate.

photo: via Kingpins Facebook