ringing the industry together is what the Workwear and Corporate Clothing Show set out to achieve – and that it certainly did. From workwear, corporate clothing, promotional wear and PPE to fibres, fabrics and accessories, all was on show at the two-day event on 1-2 April at the Birmingham NEC.
Despite the credit crunch, over 1,500 visitors piled through the doors and, while things were a little quieter than expected at the outset, the show gathered pace with the very first Business Manager Awards sponsored by INVISTA’s CORDURA® brand and Cat Workwear.
Designed to recognise outstanding buyer-supplier relationships and taking place as part of a starry gala dinner and dance at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel, the merriment helped to boost everyone’s spirits and bring about a sense of pride in being part of such a vibrant industry.
This momentum was carried through to the second day and, to kick off proceedings, there was a well-attended and enlightening conference on sustainability sponsored by Syscom plc and Lectra. The eclectic mix of speakers ensured that the whole supply chain – from fibre to end-of-life garments – was covered and that delegates came away with some valuable insights into how to turn sustainability into good business.
Launched by organisers Corporate Clothing director-e and Ocean Events last April, the Workwear and Corporate Clothing Show not only had the recession to contend with but also its status as the new kid on the block. However, maintaining the same number of visitors and exhibitors as last year has left the show’s joint managing director Yvette Ashby in no doubt about its future role within the industry.
“We created this show in response to what our customers – the manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and buyers in the industry – were telling us. The fact that we have been able to equal the success of the inaugural show, despite these difficult economic times, is a testament to the fact that the show fulfils a need.
“It is this that has helped to make this show a success once again and inject some confidence into the industry – as well as, of course, the resilience of the exhibitors and show sponsors getting out there and showing everyone exactly what they’re made of.”
By the end of the show, it seemed as though all the hard work had paid off as exhibitors were reporting quality leads and orders coming in. “The one thing that you can say about this show is that there are no timewasters,” said Supertouch’s Kashif Akhtar, who had received around 70 quality leads by the end of the first day. “It has been quieter than last year, but there are good, serious buyers at this show and I’m sure we will exhibit again next year.”
Trevor King from T King Associates Ltd said that the show provided them with a unique opportunity. “We’ve got some good leads, particularly with local authorities, ambulances and even the RSPCA,” he said. “If I tried to phone any of these people and ask to speak to their buyer, I would be very unlikely to get through, whereas here you get the opportunity to chat with them for a few minutes.”
Kathleen Helliwell from ApparelGMS agreed. Having been run off her feet with enquiries, she was tired but happy at the end of the show, and she said: “We’ve had a number of leads and the stand has definitely paid for itself. The show has exposed us to people we wouldn’t normally gain access to and we will definitely come back and exhibit next year.”
Visitors were also impressed. Adrian Williams from Transport for London said: “The Workwear and Corporate Clothing Show provides an invaluable opportunity to meet and source new suppliers. With the current financial climate, it gives me comfort to know I am getting value for money.”
Gordon Glenister, director-general at the British Promotional Merchandise Association, said: “It’s a very targeted show. I like the idea of a conference attached to the event. The fashion show is great and really demonstrates garments in use, which you really can’t do on the stand.”
After burning some significant shoe leather around the exhibition hall, the electrifying fashion catwalk show offered an irresistible breather from business. With visitors gravitating towards the back of the hall as the music started thumping out, the fashion catwalk show, sponsored by Russell Europe for the second year running, was once again the thrice-daily climax of the show. Richard Clough, managing director-e of Prêt Apparel, which sponsred one of the scenes, said: “The fashion catwalk show is without a doubt the highlight of the entire two-day event. We took part in it last year and we just had to do it again because it is such a fantastic way of showing our garments off to their best advantage and to huge audiences.”
Russell Europe opened and closed the stunning show with its Russell Collection and Russell Workwear. Truly reflective of the trend for young and fun workwear, scenes from Fristads & Co, Cat Workwear and Carhartt from Arco were funky and urban, with cutting-edge dance routines that involved twirling tools and beating metal dustbin lids. Corporate elegance in the banking and airline sectors, meanwhile, was encapsulated by scenes from Incorporatewear and Prêt Apparel with supermarket, chefswear and security uniform scenes adding to the diversity of the show.
The show also proved that innovation was very much alive and well. Goliath Footwear was presenting its new Glassworker boot, which is available from May. The company says that it has been designed in response to a huge demand from flat and container glass companies, with the entire upper of the boot protected with a special lining that performs at least three times better than the standard requirement in both cut-resistance and puncture-resistance tests.
This flexible material has a high tear and tensile strength to withstand instances of glass penetration and lacerations, while a steel midsole is also used as a barrier against glass penetration under foot. The Glassworker boot also contains Goliath’s unique injected Dual Density Rubber (DDR) Sole. Made of two distinct layers, the DDR sole has a durable nitrile rubber outer skin helping to prevent nicks and cuts, then a softer rubber mid-layer to offer shock absorption for all-day comfort. Heat resistant to 300°C, this specialist sole unit also has slip-resistance properties, surpassing the latest European standard SRC.
First-time exhibitors ID Workwear were keen to present their new look at the show. Established in 1997 as a laundry rental supplier, the company decided to change its name from ID Textiles to ID Workwear before rebranding its products and launching a new website, www.idworkwear.co.uk, in January this year. The new website offers customers a more user-friendly site where they can design their own bespoke polo shirts by mixing and matching 16 fabric colours to create their own unique style.
General manager Paul Wilkinson said: “This service offers a more flexible approach to garment manufacture. Everyone wants something different and this gives the customer more choice. With turnaround times of four to six weeks and minimum orders of only five units, this bespoke service is open to companies of all sizes who want a bespoke polo that represents their company.”
Arco’s new colour coded chefswear with matching neckerchief and hat may have whetted plenty of appetites in the fashion catwalk show, but on their stand the team were keen to promote another side to their business. “We’ve been able to introduce the Arco Clothing Centre by having our own embroidery machine on site,” product manager Diane Waite said. “We’ve been offering this embroidery and badging service for around six years now, but this is the first time we’ve ever publicised it on a stand as we’ve never exhibited at a pure clothing exhibition before.” To promote Arco’s in-house embroidery facilities and demonstrate what they can do, their fair trade T-shirts were embroidered and given away to curious visitors.
Another company keen to show its fair trade credentials was Cotton Roots. It was presenting its new range of clothing manufactured using fair trade certified fabrics, most of which, it says, are also certified as organic. Tabards, aprons, trousers and chef jackets have been added to their stock polos and shirts, and managing director Susan Waters said: “We’re developing our range all the time so that we can help organisations meet their corporate social responsibilities while being proud of our contribution.”
Supertouch was pleased with the response to its new trousers with black ballistic. Only coming in a week before the show, the trousers for refuse collectors are made from 80% polyester and 20% cotton, and are currently available in navy, high visibility orange and high visibility yellow. Other colours could be on the horizon however, as the company used the show as a platform for feedback, with green being one of the most requested colours – so watch this space.
The 100% nylon cut resistant black ballistic appears on the front and side back of the legs, with retro reflective tape above and below the knee. “The anti-cut material gives them that extra protection from glass and other sharp objects when they’re picking up the bin bags,” sales executive Francesca Robinson said.
Available in sizes 26 to 56, other features include elasticated tension on the sides for extra comfort, a zip fly front with button fastening, two front side pockets and one patch hip pocket with flap and button fastening.
MASCOT was pleased with the interest in its new MASCOT® Frontline Paros pilot jacket. The breathable, wind and waterproof jacket, which is approved to EN343, is aimed at those in industry such as drivers, couriers and warehouse workers. Marketing manager Jackie Young said: “This jacket comes in small sizes that are also suitable for women, and has slanted pockets that are easier to get your hand in to. There is also a double storm flap with two pockets inside for easy access without unzipping the jacket, and pockets for mobile phones, documents and embroidery which are mesh to avoid condensation.”
Other new inventions also included high-visibility trousers with holster pockets, also available in a ¾ length trouser and intended for those working on building sites. Visitors were also given a sneak preview of their high visibility red autumn range, available from November.
For 2010, the Workwear and Corporate Clothing Show organisers have more big ideas up their sleeves. In keeping with the dream of opening up the industry to create a dynamic atmosphere where trade can flourish, Totally Trade Expo will add another string to its bow. Totally Trade Expo is a separate show that has been devised to run alongside the Workwear and Corporate Clothing Show.
Taking place in an adjacent hall with a separate entrance, manufacturers and trade distributors of working garments, textiles and garment decorators who don’t sell to end users will, for the first time, have their own exhibition. Only trade-to-trade visitors will gain access to Totally Trade Expo, with end users being catered for at the original Workwear and Corporate Clothing Show next door.
The Ricoh Arena in Coventry will be the new home for this exciting concept. It is hoped that the new venue will help the show to continue to grow into the spectacular event that such a dynamic industry not only deserves but demands.
Corporate Clothing director-e and Ocean Events would like to thank the show sponsors and everyone who exhibited and visited. We look forward to doing it all again next year!
The Workwear and Corporate Clothing Show 2010 will take place at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry on 13th and 14th April 2010. For more details email email@example.com, or call +44 (0)870 870 4578