Los Angeles Fabric Show: Trip Report

Greetings everyone! I am Bethany, president of Georgie World Inc, a surf and skate inspired line of boy’s clothing. This is my second essay for Kathleen at F-I and my second review (see my review of the Bubble and ENK trade show). This review is regarding the LA fabric show.

This was at least the 6th LA fabric show I have been to and it has changed throughout the years. I swear, it seems to get smaller every time I go, but I think the truth is, I just know what I am looking for so I can be much more efficient deciding which booths I decide to go to.

This time they did something different, which I really liked. They put the different fabrics into different areas. In the past they had notions in one area, home fabrics in a different area, and then the rest of fabric everywhere else. This time they separated it by casual (cotton-type sportswear, wool, linen, cottons, etc), design & direction (print studios, design, color, trend services etc), fancy (silks, lace embroidery & ribbons, fluid knits, etc) interiors, performance (sport technology & performance, synthetic & technical) tailored (formal & structured, wool, linen, cottons, etc) and then they had the Korean pavilion which hosts fabric reps from Korea and the French pavilion which hosts fabric reps from France. I liked that they separated the fabrics because this way I knew which areas I wanted to hit first, and then if I had time I could check out the other stuff. I didn’t have to wander willy-nilly up and down the isles looking for yarn dyes or jersey.

They also have the ‘showrooms’ which are rooms that any fabric rep can rent and apparently they rent for a lesser price then the booths. All I know is I love the showrooms. I like that you walk into a room with tables and chairs, all the fabric is hanging, and it feels much less crowded then in a booth. They also host the largest of the fabric reps such as Robert Kaufman and Alexander Henry. I always hit the showrooms first.

Another aspect I like about the LA fabric show is, in the downstairs lobby, they have a large display of fabric clustered by color, or print or technique. Just by walking the display one can get a sense of what the next season will feel like. I like to walk the display and write down the different vendors of fabrics I respond to. I have found wonderful reps this way. It also gives me ideas on how to mix and match color and textures.

Finally, they have different free seminars about various topics throughout the show. I didn’t attend any of these this time around, but I have gone to sourcing, color and trend seminars in the past. They even had a seminar about going green which a bunch of the ladies from F-I went to.

Personally, I love the LA fabric show. I live here, so it is very convenient to source, a lot of the reps and companies are local, and I think it is well organized. I also know from looking at people’s tags, they cater to a lot of new or small designers. Frankly, the large companies have these reps come to them, so the whole point of the show is to get different designers to see the goods. (This was also the first show I went to where I didn’t see anyone from Project Runway). With that said, there are still plenty of reps who have 500 yard minimums. But I have found that with creative negotiating, you can often get high ‘sample’ yardage or just pay a buck or two more per yard and get smaller yardage. Unfortunately there are one or two vendors who will not work with small vendors and they drive me up the wall. There is one in particular who has the most amazing knits and their minimum is like 3,000 yards and their largest sample is like 20 yards; makes me crazy. I go see her every show and beg, plead and cry, but she will not budge. Come to think of it, I still haven’t gotten the samples I requested. So my goal is to one day be able to buy her stinking minimums.

This year’s show was unusually interesting because it was the first time I got to meet other ladies from F-I. A few of us went to lunch on Monday and I think 14 of us went to lunch on Tuesday including Rocio from Unlimited Design Services who has a concept through delivery fashion service. Needless to say I was very interested in her services (as was everyone else) so a bunch of us went to visit her production space. That will be the topic of my next essay. But it was really fun to have a lunch with so many other creative designer entrepreneurs. It was also great to put faces with names.

In conclusion, the LA fabric show is a good solid fabric show. I get all of my sourcing from this show and I will continue to go as long as it is around. My only complaint (besides always wanting more vendors) is it is so late in the season; when I order at the show from India, my fabric wont be delivered until November for a show in January! Talk about crunch! But I highly recommend the show.

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