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Recap: Innovative Textiles & Apparel in Taipei

From USA-ITA OFF THE CUFF for October 25, 2013

If you’re looking for some of the most innovative textiles, apparel, and fashion design in the world, you’ll want to look at Taiwan. From October 15-17, the Taiwan Textile Federation, an Associate Member of USA-ITA, hosted two trade shows to showcase Taiwan’s forward-thinking industry: the Taipei Innovative Textile Application Show (TITAS) and Taipei IN Style (TIS). We never like to pass up an opportunity to see the latest textile technologies and fashion trends—and we even found an equally innovative and stylish hotel you’ll want to book the next time you’re sourcing in Taiwan.

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The Chairman of the Taiwan Textile Federation welcomes guests to Taipei. (Credit: USA-ITA)

Innovative Textiles

Since 1997, TITAS has showcased some of the world’s most innovative fibers, yarns, trimmings, and related products as well as the latest technologies in manufacturing and design equipment. This year, TITAS featured over 350 exhibitors from 11 countries, making the event a one-stop shop for the entire supply chain.

The focus was not just fabrics that are functional, but fabrics that are functional and fashionable, too. “Functional textiles have been the key competence for the Taiwan textile industry for years, targeting mainly sports, leisure and outdoor apparel brands and markets in Europe, America, Japan and emerging markets like China,” says Justin Huang, Secretary General of the Taiwan Textile Federation. “In response to increasing market demand for more ‘fashion-conscious’ functional fabrics, TITAS 2013 launches a ‘Fashion Focus Zone’ devoted to fashion fabrics with functional performance,” he adds.

If you can dream up a functional, fashionable fabric, TITAS probably had it. In addition to the latest technologies in managing moisture, head, bacteria, and light, we also found cutting-edge technology, like Formosa Taffeta Co.’s Nanodermis, a “supple powdery skin-like” fabric that’s lightweight and versatile, and Tri Ocean Textile Co.’s DreamFel®, which is made of polypropylene filament and features soft texture, excellent warmth retention and high abrasion resistance. As Kevin Kling, Director of the Fabric Division for Tex-Ray Industrial Co., which offers eco-friendly dyeing and finishing for performance wear, explained, people come to Taiwan for something different. These buyers don’t just want their fabric to perform, but also want it to be high quality and even fashionable, too.

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 S.Cafe creates sustainable yarn from coffee grounds (Credit: USA-ITA)

But innovation is not just about what the fabric can do, but also where it comes from, and Taiwan showcased an abundant supply of eco-friendly fabrics, too. We got a look at sports jerseys made from recycled bottles, Tex-Ray’s waterless dyeing processes, and Singtex Industrial Co.’s fascinating S.Café® yarn made from used coffee grounds, which is not only eco-friendly but also dries quickly, controls odor, and offers UV protection. (You can see a video explaining the process from coffee cup to t-shirt on the Singtex website.)

Innovative Fashion Trends

Taiwan is a place for innovative fashion trends, too. Taipei IN Style, shown concurrently with TITAS, featured over 218 directional fashion designers, apparel and accessories brands, and service providers, as well as runway shows, trunk shows, and educational seminars. TIS showcased an impressive mix of established as well as on-the-rise Taiwanese designers, as well as fashion from Hong Kong and elsewhere, with global inspirations.

FN.ICE, a Taiwanese functional fashion label, kicked off the runway shows by showcasing the latest fall collection. FN.ICE is owned by LIBOLON Enterprise Co., one of the largest producers of nylon and eco-friendly functional fabrics in Asia and a supplier to global brands including Issey Miyake, Escada, Uniqlo, and H&M. LIBOLON launched FN.ICE in 2011 to develop their own apparel featuring their fabrics, and the modern, tailored fall collection has universal appeal. Robyn Hung, a Taiwanese designer who graduated from the London University of Fashion, also stood out for her colorful clothing inspired by her travels around the world.

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Looks by FN.ICE and Robyn (Credit: USA-ITA)

Another runway show, Fashion in Taipei 2013, showcased looks from contestants in the Taipei City Office of Commerce fashion design contest. The very first such contest featured 19 new and emerging designers, who will receive assistance with design training and promotion. Highlights included tailored coats and leather separates by Gary Lin, who is inspired by the urban cultural atmosphere of Taipei.

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Gary Lin in the Fashion in Taipei Show (Credit: USA-ITA)

We also enjoyed viewing hip, youthful fashion inspired by the American teenager from bLender, wholly designed and produced in Taiwan by Birdie Dress Co., a women’s wear factory, as well as looks from Style in Hong Kong, featuring some of Hong Kong’s hottest designers and sponsored by the Hong Kong Trade & Development Council.

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bLender (Credit: USA-ITA)

Innovative Lifestyle

Of course, you now want to go to Taipei for your next souring excursion. Where should you stay? We recommend the W Taipei, located in the trendy Xinyi District around the corner from the Taipei City Hall MTR Station (and a few stops from the exhibition center, should you like to attend TITAS/TIS next year).

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W Taipei guests receive a warm welcome. (Credit: USA-ITA)

The Starwood property keeps three principles in mind: fashion, music, design. These principles are evident throughout the hotel, from the contemporary Taiwanese art in the lobbies, to the signature soundtrack playing in the elevators and hip WOO Bar by the pool, to the attention to detail given to everything from the guest rooms to the food to the cocktails.

The innovation found in Taiwan’s textiles and fashion industry is also found in this hotel, which boasts spacious guest rooms with high-tech amenities, as well as a signature penthouse restaurant, YEN, led by Michelin-starred chef Ken Yu, who delights visitors with his artistic take on Cantonese cuisine. We were lucky to enjoy a tasting dinner with the W Taipei marketing team, and tried some of Yu’s signature dishes including “The Pearl,” decadent pumpkin bisque with black truffle and crab-shrimp paste, and “The Beauty, The Moon,” a surprising blend of braised crab with winter melon and a black truffle lobster sauce. (We also gobbled up roast suckling pig and a luxurious chicken soup with sweet potato that will cure any jetlag-induced ailments.) Don’t forget to grab a cocktail at the YEN Bar after your dinner, with a magnificent view of Taipei 101 and the innovative city below.

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