Insights From Oregon – Polygiene At The Functional Fabric Fair

Polygiene recently visited Portland, Oregon, to attend the USA premier sourcing event for high-performance textiles. The Functional Fabric Fair, or FFF, replicates the successful exhibition model established by the prestigious Performance Days event in Munich, Germany. Here in the US, it consists of three main shows - spring and fall events in Portland and a summer show in New York City.

Taking place over two days, the April show featured over 260 exhibitors and attracted more than 2,100 attendees. Representatives from leading brands in the outdoor and performance sectors regularly utilize the event to source new fabrics, footwear and technologies for their upcoming collections. An innovation hub, the northwest is home to some of the most respected brands in the market, including NIKE, Adidas, Under Armour, Danner, Eddie Bauer, Keen, Filson, and Arc’teryx, to name a few. 

The Polygiene America team made the most of the opportunity and enjoyed a busy few days connecting with valued long-term partners and brands considering Polygiene’s freshness and sustainability solutions for the first time.

Discussing industry trends and trade show takeaways

At the show, Polygiene’s Americas Marketing Manager Nick Brosnan caught up with Suzanne Blecher, the Editor of Textile Insight Magazine and contributor to Footwear Insight Magazine, to discuss the show’s main takeaways and her thoughts on the current state of the industry.

What are your biggest takeaways from FFF? 

Brands are concerned about three things right now. Style, performance, and sustainability. Consumers also seem focused on those three factors. Recent polling suggests consumers still consider price an obstacle when purchasing sustainable apparel and footwear. But consumer awareness and understanding of sustainability issues is growing, and education on third-party certifications is slowly ticking up, even if only a minority of shoppers can name specific certification bodies.

America’s Bobby Howell meeting with long-time Polygiene partner Sitka

How should brands approach sustainability?

When I recently spoke to Selina Ho, founder of Recloseted, for our winter issue of Textile Insight, she noted that brands and suppliers often feel as though they are lagging behind when it comes to sustainability. They want to fix this super-quickly, typically by throwing money at the problem.

Selina convincingly argued that the fully sustainable fashion brand is a myth. Instead of aiming for eco-friendly perfection and obtaining as many certifications as possible, brands should establish smaller, achievable priorities. That could be using better materials, extending product lifespan or decreasing textile waste. Once established, it is much easier to work step-by-step towards those goals by refining processes and acquiring relevant certifications.

What makes you most excited about the future of the active sports industry?

There is always newness out there. Technology is improving and highly functional garments are becoming more fashionable. That’s what consumers want. It’s about looking and feeling good all day, every day. While I’d like to change my outfit after hot yoga or a tennis session, I can’t always swing it. So, what I wear for those activities has to be able to take me to the grocery store or school pick-up, while still looking appropriate and ensuring I’m comfortable.

Upcoming events and trade shows

The April FFF show isn’t the only event the US Polygiene team is attending. Over the next few months, you can find us at:

  • The Plastics Show (NPE) in Orlando, FL

(6th -10th of May 2024)

  • Functional Fabric Fair in NYC

(16th – 17th of July 2024)

We look forward to seeing you there!