This past May, our soft goods & wearables team exhibited at the 2023 Techtextil North America Trade Show, a prominent event that serves as a hub for exploring innovation, sustainability, and digitalization across the textile industry. Techtextil North America attracts industry professionals worldwide, offering insights into the latest trends and technologies, and facilitating valuable business connections and partnerships. Priority Designs was excited to be among a diverse range of vendors showcasing the latest innovations in textile development that service many different industries such as medical, industrial, and apparel.
About a 9-minute read.
As this was our first time exhibiting at Techtextil, we were more than impressed with the overall experience and the interesting people we met during the show. We were exposed to emerging market patterns such as new sustainability requirements, sourcing for medical textiles, and developing products that combine Hard and Soft Goods in novel ways.
As exhibitors and attendees, our team was able to further our commitment to progressing in the textile and soft goods community while also bolstering our materials libraries and learning where the future of the textile industry is headed. Both experiences allowed us to connect with our clients and vendors in new ways, and to gain experiences that help make our team’s workflow more effective.
Stephannie has a true passion for textiles in and out of the office. She specializes in knitting and cut-and-sew development as well as building tech packages and pattern making as part of our soft goods team.
Sr. Soft Goods Technical Designer
Mark is not only a Principal at Priority Designs, but also a designer, project manager, CAD operator, business development…we could go on. He enjoys solving problems and learning, and thankfully, he has plenty of opportunities for both.
Our veteran soft goods developer who has been refining his craft since 1995. Tom specializes in program management – specifically soft goods concept definition. This includes integration of molded (hard goods) components that improve the function, durability, and performance of a traditionally sewn product.
Sr. Industrial Designer – Soft Goods Developer
Haley has 8+ years of knit and woven garment industry experience. At Priority Designs, she does prototyping in the soft goods lab, creation of paper and digital patterns, and building of tech packs.
- Stephannie: We were excited to see automated manufacturing assembly lines and cutting tables, 3D printing on textiles, and the increased availability of medical-specific textiles. In the past, only a few vendors catered to the medical apparel market. This year, almost every exhibitor showcased fabrics suitable for PPE and non-woven applications. It was a great advantage for our team to interact with attendees who possessed a strong understanding of medical classifications and FDA testing requirements.
- Mark: The presence of large machinery, particularly witnessing operators “riding” on the equipment, encountering numerous suppliers offering recycled fabrics, and watching Stratasys demonstrating 3D printing directly onto fabrics, showcasing the exciting possibilities it holds.
- Tom: It was fascinating to observe the significant shift of the event from a commercial/industrial emphasis to a greater focus on innovation, encompassing not just roll goods but also raw goods, machinery, and technology. In the past, the show seemed focused on industrial roll goods (heavy-weight canvas) and machinery for tarps and awning-like applications. This show highlighted new and innovative techniques from sustainable materials to new coatings and manufacturing methods. The activities seemed much more engaging and the seminars were very applicable to our clients and the industries we support.
- Haley: The convergence of sustainability and advanced technology in the textile industry. We witnessed various sustainable innovations such as direct-to-fabric printing, laser-printed labels, and AI fabric digitization were showcased. Additionally, the industry embraced technology by utilizing 3D software to visualize garments, digitally transforming fabrics, and employing panel printing to minimize ink waste in print garments. These advancements reflected the industry’s commitment to a sustainable future through technological integration.
- Stephannie: Valuable insights into the Soft Goods industry’s adaptation to the North American market. Particularly, with the rise of more US vendors and a focus on near-shoring strategies. There were many challenges faced during the pandemic, such as supplier delays, extended lead times, increased shipping, environmental concerns, and rising costs. Our team, along with many other businesses, adapted by seeking near-shored options to sustain operations during the pandemic. It was gratifying to witness more vendors in textiles, hardware, and industrial materials prioritizing the North American market and embracing near-shoring as a key aspect of their business development.
- Stephannie: I also want to note sustainability taking center stage! Companies are adopting innovative approaches to product development, including incorporating plant-based and biobased materials like plant-based suedes and natural fabric dyes. Additionally, they are implementing end-of-product life programs. The growing importance of sustainability is driven by the need to meet client demands and address environmental impact, leading to a shift towards more sustainable manufacturing processes.
- Mark: The industry is rich with specialized materials, but the challenge for our world of product development is getting those materials in sample quantities for prototyping and testing.
- Tom: I do not believe they have had true product development consultants in attendance before, and people were really excited about what we were showing! We were humbled by this and enjoyed networking to showcase our capabilities.
- Haley: Making new connections throughout the textile industry and getting to see the innovative products in person. Through the pandemic, a lot of knowledge related to innovation came through a virtual setting. Being able to touch and feel the physical properties of a textile is a vital part of sourcing the right fabric. It was my first time attending one of these shows and the opportunity to talk to other industry professionals about fabric, feeling it, and how it reacts (weave structures, finishings, stretchability) makes a huge impact.
- Stephannie: Exhibiting at Techtextil allowed our team to not only learn about advancements in Soft Goods technology but to make new vendor relationships and collect new understandings of the gaps our clients are seeking help. We envision this helping our team’s workflow by allowing us to focus on specific areas to support clients and how to be a partner for their development where they are not currently finding assistance.
- Tom: They make valuable connections and have the potential to gain new clients and open doors for more opportunities. Building relationships with new clients allows for exciting collaborations and expands the range of projects I can be involved in. Moreover, the exposure gained from networking at events like this showcases my work and raises my professional profile. Overall, these takeaways will bring diversity, growth, and further development to my workflow at Priority Designs.
- Haley: Techtextil was a great opportunity to expand my network of textile manufacturers. I left with tons of samples that I intend to use to try out new techniques to see if they’d be beneficial for current or upcoming projects. This will create a better understanding of fabrics; thus, creating more resources to offer our clients. It was exciting to learn about new programs, including AI digitization, flourishing in the industry.
With Techtextil drawing international attendees, our team had the privilege to be among a diverse array of companies sharing cutting-edge advancements in textile development. We gained greater insight into emerging market needs such as updated sustainability requirements, unique sourcing for medical textiles, and how we can continue to be innovative in creating products that blend both Hard and Soft Goods into a unified solution.