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Fabric developers will need to reposition their collections to have fewer materials in order to keep buyers engaged, as the coronavirus outbreak has forced them to showcase collections differently.

Speaking on a webinar for the Kingpins24 virtual denim sourcing event – whose physical show in Amsterdam was cancelled amid the Covid-19 pandemic – a group of denim fabric developers said most of their meetings with customers are currently happening online.

Maurizio Baldi, denim textile designer at Diamond Denim, said the company’s collections have each traditionally consisted of 60-70 fabrics, with a maximum of around 30 to 40 shown to the customer, and within this a focus on 10 to 15.

However, Baldi said in the current environment, where customers are being sent fabric samples instead of having them presented in person, what is being sent needs to have a “very clear message.”

“The message of your collection in the package must be extremely clear…and so the collection must be very small, maybe 20 pieces.”

Bart Van de Woestyne, creative director at Prosperity Textile, agreed. While the company was “on track” to have 40-60 fabrics, he said, given the likelihood of online presentations, it will have to be cut down to half and include only “the most special concepts.”

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Hamit Yenici, CEO of Hich Solutions, said most fabric developers’ collections have to be capped at 80 “because you lose the concentration of the customer” otherwise.

Going forward he added it is going to be even more important to cut collection sizes and focus on core pieces in order to win custom, especially as buyers won’t be able to touch and feel the fabrics.

“I think if you have three to four really strong pieces in the collection it is much more important than having a wide collection. Since we will be doing more distance presentations, obvious visual effects will be very important and the concept is key. If we can convince customers with a good storyline, even though this is online, it will be key to future success. Good storytelling needs to be more important than asking them to physically see and touch the product.”

The three executives agreed going forward sustainability will continue to remain a key theme when it comes to denim.

“Sustainability and how you are affecting mother nature is really important, especially after this virus,” Yenici said. “People are now more concerned than ever about yours and their impact on the environment. Instead of talking about sustainability, we have to act. That is going to be a very important consideration for the new season.”