Heimtextil, the world’s leading textile trade fair, celebrated its 50th Show in January at Messe Frankfurt in Frankfurt, Germany. Nearly 3,000 companies from 65 countries presented their innovations at the largest trade fair for home and contract textiles. Throughout the massive exhibition space, exhibitors unveiled many unprecedented design concepts.
Sustainability is at the Forefront of the Industry
The major theme at Heimtextil, however, and the industry as a whole, is sustainability. Green aspects are at the forefront of the industry’s agenda, and green pioneers were given a platform by Heimtextil, to share their innovations. According to Thimo Schwenzfeier, Director, Marketing Communications for Heimtextil, approximately 98% of the companies that participated at Heimtextil are involved in sustainability in some way or form. Many manufacturers exhibited materials that were recycled and/or upcycled. See this link and this link to see our coverage of Heimtextil from previous years.)
Detlef Braun, Member of the Executive Board at Messe Frankfurt, pointed out Messe Frankfurt has been promoting sustainability at its worldwide textile events under the umbrella of the Texpertise Network for more than ten years. “It is therefore a logical conclusion that the Sustainable Development Goals should be integrated in our worldwide textile events to generate acute awareness of the importance of sustainability in the textile industry,” he explains.
For example, Heimtextil is working closely with the United Nations Office for Partnerships to promote 17 specific Sustainable Development Goals, which range from clean water and sanitation to responsible consumption and production and partnerships. “The textile industry has a strong impact on the world around us,” says Lucie Brigham, Chief of Office at the United Nations Office for Partnerships (seen in photo above). “These goals represent the challenges we are facing, such as responsible consumption. They are designed to provide a platform for each of us to select what resonates the most.”
At Heimtextil’s “Trend Spaces” area, fair organizers worked with designers to showcase sustainable materials used in creative ways. The Future Materials Library, which was part of the Trend Space, enabled visitors to explore the nature and production method of innovative materials with a focus on recycled fabrics and cultivated, living textiles. “The aim was to minimize the environmental impact by selecting materials in an intelligent way,” says Olaf Schmidt, Vice President Textiles Textile Technologies of Messe Frankfurt. “Heimtextil invites you to a design show that not only talks about sustainability, but also embraces it in practical terms and, thanks to this approach and its reputation, is unrivalled worldwide.”
There are a lot of paths that we can walk together with the industry, and then the retailers and the consumers will follow because it is accessible and available,” says Schwenzfeier. “It will be interesting to see what happens in the next two to five years.”
Employing proper sustainable practices is going to become more mainstream in the near future. “In ten years if a company did not set up a proper sustainable production, they may not exist anymore,” predicts Schwenzfeier. “The change is necessary. Companies have to find sustainable solutions.”
An example of a natural asset on display in the Trends Library was the bark cloth, made from the bark of the east African mutuba fig tree. One of the most ancient textiles known to man and its artisanal production, it is mostly manufactured by small-scale organic farmers in Uganda. Mutuba bark can be harvested annually without harming the trees, making the cloth infinitely sustainable. Its processing requires very little water and no synthetic binders or dyes and its forms range from supple and leather-like to delicate and fleecy. Called BARKTEX, this vegan material (seen above) is 99% bio-based and can be used as a wall covering or furniture surface.
Many emerging trends have historically debuted at Heimtextil. This year was no exception. Below are a few examples of some of the major trends that were unveiled at Heimtextil 2020.
One of the leaders in developing sustainable products is Lenzing, an Austria-based manufacturer. Lenzing’s TENCIL x REFIBRA fibers are the first commercially available chemically recycled cellulose fibers on the market. For these new fibers, pulp from cotton textile scraps are used and combined with dissolving wood pulp from sustainably managed forests and plantations. The fibers are fully compostable and biodegradable, even in sea water, and this do not generate microplastics. “It is very meaning and powerful that a company as large as Lenzing with their Tencil fibers is really working on this topic,” says Heimtextil’s Schwenzfeier.
At Heimtextil, Lenzing showcased bed textiles containing TENCIL x REFIBRA fibers. These fibers contain moisture absorbing materials that improve thermal regulation as they are structured to regulate the absorption and release of moisture, thus supporting the body’s natural thermal regulation and providing breathable comfort. They are also designed to provide a high level of comfort. Examples of bed linens that were made with TENCIL x REFIBRA fibers are seen above.
“The glam factor is coming back, even in interiors,” says Heimtextil’s Schwenzfeier. “We can see it in fashion already, but now it is more visible and bolder in statements in interior textiles. You can see curtains with very bold purple coming together with pink and orange flashes. You see blankets that are blinky and shiny and crystals and other metal effects.
Maximum Glam, which may present itself in a variety of ways, from fake fur to pile and fringes, jacquard weaves and elaborate prints, was seen at the show. Colors are flashy, luminous and electric, ranging from fluorescent pink to neon green. There were even examples of textiles coming to life with 3-D ornamental surface effects such as the fabric (seen above) in which protruding threads are reminiscent of the tinsel found on a Christmas tree. This fabric is manufactured by LIVA Line, which is based in Bursa, Turkey.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, a color trend that is emerging is one that celebrates ancient spiritual practices and the natural world to counter-balance the fast-pace of the world. In turn, many manufacturers are using natural-based ingredients, such as jute and pine bark to create earth tone colors and materials for textiles. “Everything is calming down a lot,” says Schwenzfeier. “Popular colors are beige and taupe—colors that are very relaxing. In the past, we had these colors in the bedroom and bathroom, but now it emerges in the living room area as well, because people want to be more relaxed. It’s a bit of a digital detox activity. Making your eyes want to shut down and relax in the living areas.”
Neutral Pantone colors that reflect these earth tones are seen above as well as an example of a hand-assembled marquetry called Totomoxtle created by product and material designer, Fernando Laposse, of Mexico. The veneer of the Totomoxtle marquetry was made from corn husks that were flattened, backed with paper pulp or textile, and cut into small pieces before being hand-assembled into beautiful marquetry finishes for furniture and interior surfaces (seen above).
Active Urban Lifestyle
An active urban lifestyle has led to a trend in which manufacturers are using performance-grade materials. For example, Carvico, an Italian manufacturer which since the 1960s has produced swimwear fabrics for such companies as Adidas and Speedo, is now producing a wide array of designs for upholstery use with the same high performance materials. These textiles are now being used for much more than swimwear—in fact its stretchy component makes it ideal for many other applications, including upholstery. An example of Carvico’s stretchy upholstery fabrics are seen above.
Luxury Is In Demand
Luxury will never go out of style and at Heimtextil, many manufacturers were showcasing luxurious textiles, including velvet, which was presented in a variety of creative ways. Manufacturers presented beautiful printed velvet as well as sumptuous quilted velvet, such as the example seen above which is manufactured by British Velvets Ltd. of Burnley, Lancashire in England.
The Heimtextil Trends 20/21 book says nostalgia comforts in turbulent times, which explains its repeated resurgence in trends throughout history. Worldwide, we are seeing an appreciation for historical treasures. Traditional luxury is being reinterpreted with an opulent, magical edge, according to Heimtextil, while textiles and materials are loaded with historical reference and conceived in a modern and digital realm.
An example of this was seen at the SG Hogar exhibition space. The Spanish designer, under the helm of its Chief Executive, Sergio Gramage, is digitally-designing prints with social-cultural, ecological and humanistic elements, such as the one seen above that is reminiscent of a Japanese silk screen.
Fabrics of surreal luxury were seen at the fair. There were examples of sensuous silky velour and fluid, drapeable materials with lush liquid gloss surfaces, both of which were predicted in the Heimtextil Trends 20/21 book. Melih Aker Textile of Turkey manufactures innovative and contemporary designs in jacquard fabrics for draperies, tie and pillow fabrics. An example of one the company’s luxurious fabrics that features metallic highlights is seen above.