Advancing beyond Materials and Components to “Feeling Green”
This third edition of Materials+ to be held was launched as a platform for non-leather and advanced materials, all types of footwear components, decorative hardware for fashion accessories as well as the latest cutting machine technology used in the manufacturing processes.
Materials+ does in no way compete with the leather fair. For a start, it is held on a different level of the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) and is aimed at complementing the footwear and leathergoods manufacturing process. Bags can be made from many materials and Materials+ offers these as well as components needed to complete the finished product such as buckles, zips, labels, studs and so on. In other words, the whole supply chain for manufacturing fashion items and footwear can be found at APLF Leather and Materials+ fair.
In recent years sustainability and environmental care have become increasingly important for end consumers as many are aware that plastics and synthetic materials such as polyester are extremely prejudicial for the environment. Materials made from hydrocarbons are non-biodegradable and can stay in landfill for hundreds of year, in the oceans affecting marine life.
However, the reality of many products is that they are a combination of synthetics materials and leather. For example a leather tote bag could have a synthetic lining and plastic zippers with chromed buckles. Materials+ as part of the APLF group of fairs is aimed at offering the whole supply chain to designers and manufacturers who visit the fair either to actually source or seek inspiration from exhibitors’ displays or the Colour and Materials Trend Areas.
This year, 2019, the Organisers took the decision to focus primarily on sustainability at Materials+ since it has become a central and overriding concern and theme for the fashion industry so as to satisfy the needs of the end consumer. To achieve this Materials+ set about focusing on various aspects of sustainability so as to encourage buyers, exhibitors and visitors alike to participate in this leading trend.
Sustainability during Materials+
The sustainability dominance in industry thinking was catered for with a busy and attentive session labeled the Sustainable Fashion Conference that was well attended on day 2 of the fair.
This conference was a key element in APLF’s aim to establish itself as the main Sustainable Sourcing Platform of the Asia Pacific Region. “Among the many topics discussed, blockchain, a technology that proves the integrity of a fully transparent supply chain, made a particularly big impression, reminding everyone that modern day slave labor is as much part of sustainability as raw materials, chemistry and waste” reported Veronique Saunier who covered this inaugural conference.
One presentation that captured the imagination of those who attended it was by Dr James M. Vreeland Jnr of Eko Peru – Naturtex who covered topics such as natural coloured cotton from Peru that gets darker if exposed to sunlight; the sustainable aspects of alpaca versus cashmere as alpacas have pads on their feet rather than the destructive hooves of cashmere goats that trigger decertification on the Mongolian plateau.
Dr Vreeland also presented a collection of garments and fashion accessories made from alpaca and / or a combination of alpaca and silk. All such objects produced by Naturtex are sustainable and completely biodegradable in contrast to recycled plastic bottles used for making sportswear, for example.
Linking the sustainability chain together is the Materials+ Community - a programme of identification and recognition of sustainable exhibitors to enhance the “APLF Moving Toward Sustainability” programme and help promote those exhibitors to buyers. Finally, the “Feel Green@APLF Community”, a digital activation campaign online, is to be implemented to promote sustainable exhibitors at all APLF fairs and develop a green community for the industries served by APLF.
Conferences with a “green thread” were aimed at educating about sustainability and environmental care as we come to the end of the second decade of the 21st century. APLF is “Feeling Greener” than ever before. This was exemplified in the Core or centre of the Materials+ hall with a display of sustainable materials provided by exhibitors in showcases.
After this initial launch at the fair’s 35th Anniversary edition, sustainability will continue to be a central thread running through the fairs in 2020 as APLF seeks to consolidate its position as the Sustainable Sourcing Platform of the Asia Pacific Region.
The 2020 fair will take place at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre from 31 March - 2 April 2020.