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Highlights and high points

Feature, Markets | December 1, 2014 | By:

From the IFAI Specialty Fabrics Expo and Advanced Textiles Expo 2014

For the first time since 1951, IFAI Expo was held in Minneapolis, our home town. The skies were blue, the leaves were gold, and the halls of the Minneapolis Convention Center hosted thousands of industry professionals from all parts of the specialty fabrics supply chain. Through economic uncertainty and political unease, the demand for high-performance fabrics continues to grow, and more market opportunities are starting to emerge. Participants came to Minnesota with a business plan in hand, or at least in mind—and left with new information, new ideas, new products, new technologies, new customers and new business partners. Value added.

We can only show you some of the highlights from this year’s show in this special section, but there’s more information available at; and we’ll be using what we learned in issues of the Review all through 2015 … including next November, the 100th anniversary of this magazine.

Stay with us throughout 2015 as we move toward IFAI Expo in Anaheim next October. As we learn from you, we develop and refine each year’s programming to help you meet new demands with new resources: from people, products and processes to profit and better business. See you there!

More on the floors

Better business was the true focus in Minneapolis, from seminars to show floor to special events.

The Specialty Fabrics Expo educational sessions focused on market segments like awnings, marine fabrication, fabric structures and current research and future innovation.

The Advanced Textiles (AT) Expo seminars focused on medical and safety products and smart textile technologies, with an expanded AT pavilion including a Fiber & Yarn Zone and the SYFA Advanced Textiles Lounge.


  • 61 winners in the 67th annual IFAI International Achievement Awards competition
  • 6 winners in the third annual
    ShowStoppers competition
  • Second annual VIP Membership Lounge,
    with fresh cookies and popcorn
  • Extreme Sports Display
  • Fabric Sourcing Center
  • Young Professionals
    programming and happy hour
  • Architect Education sessions
  • Graphics and Sewing Shop Tour
  • The first meeting of IFAI’s new
    Military Division
  • The first @ifaiexpo Twitter contest,
    awarding an iPad for extreme tweeting!

The Maker Movement

At a special reception on Wednesday, IFAI president Mary Hennessy introduced the new partnership between IFAI and The Makers Coalition (TMC). TMC’s mission is “To Build the Industrial Sewing Heritage of America.” In conjunction with Dunwoody College of Technology in Minneapolis, the group has launched a nationally approved Sewing Operator Apprenticeship. The partnership with IFAI, with the creation of the Maker’s Division, will expand the search for interested companies to support the training programs with industry expertise, trainers, apprenticeships and job placement.

The “Super Event”

This year, for the first time, the end of the show’s first day was capped by the Opening Reception & Awards event, open to all show participants to join in celebrating industry accomplishments and create connections for more successes in the future. Surrounded by food, drink and local entertainment, attendees heard from IFAI’s board of directors about leadership changes for 2015, as well as newly certified IFAI members and this year’s Honored Life Member recipients. Winners of the International Achievement Awards and ShowStoppers awards were also announced.

Extreme sports

Water rock climbers, wingsuit flyers, scuba divers, surfers, white water rafters and others who participate in demanding sports have this in common: they need the right apparel and gear to enjoy the excitement their sports afford as comfortably and safely as possible.

An especially interesting variety of products was shown in an Extreme Sports Display area on the IFAI Expo show floor. But it’s not just the end product that deserves a closer look. Each product displayed is constructed of specially designed fabrics that take high performance to the extreme.

Skiing. A shell-style jacket may seem routine, but the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol LT Shell and the Bloodbird cross-trainer are anything but. Schoeller Textiles’ stretch woven fabric with NanoSphere® repels ice, spindrift and wet winter precipitation; and ski gloves by Franz Ziener GmbH & Co. KG were developed for the German ski team.

Hiking, climbing. Japanese fabricator Sawanobori /MetroPolice showed a mountain-hiking or water-climbing backpack with waterproof and abrasion-resistance qualities for extra protection for “Sawanobori,” which is Japanese for “shower (waterfall) climbing,” a popular sport in Japan.

Salewa’s lightweight mountaineering boots are designed for wet, cold and ice. For cross trainers, the Lalo Tactical’s Bloodbird features a SuperFabric® toecap and anti-inversion technology for stability and durability that meet Navy SEAL standards.

Alpine climbers could try the Seamseeker three-quarter finger gloves by Outdoor Research, designed for big-wall climbs, and the Hillsound gaiter will withstand punctures from crampon spikes.

Motorcycling. The Klim Induction motorcycle jacket uses KLIM® KARBONITE MESH™ technology, which is 750 percent stronger than polyesters. Apex Mills performance fabric PT26 is also used in the jacket. Motorcycle gloves by Held offer a good grip and reliable hand protection.

Inflatables, water sports. AIRE Inc. showed an inflatable raft that features high-performance materials from Ferrari, Seaman Corp., Leafield, American Plastics, Bayer Material Science, S.I.R. and Hitex.

The Nomad shown by Dive Rite is an entire system for underwater cave diving. RAVE Sports and AVIVA Sports showed both an inflatable kayak, and the Outback inflatable standup paddle board.

Even fishing can be dangerous; the Lindy Fish Handling Gloves by Lindy and Pradco Outdoor Brands protect against sharp teeth, fins and gills.

But there’s more. Additional textile suppliers were represented and end products were shown: the Wingsuit by Aura; First Line Technology’s Cooling Vest with PhaseCore 28; a Coast Guard Diving Suit using SuperFabric; and A&R Tarpaulins Inc. and Rareform paired up to make surfboard and snowboard bags from re-purposed billboard vinyl.

Sponsored by Jomar Softcorp International, an enterprise and mobile software solution provider.

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