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IFAI EXPO Show Preview 2022

Features | September 1, 2022 | By:

Join thousands of textile professionals as we return to Charlotte for the industry’s flagship event and partner with the Sun Shading Expo North America. Connect with the industry for four days of networking, education and product sourcing. Celebrate more than 100 years of IFAI Expo as we look toward an exciting future as the Advanced Textiles Association!

For the full schedule, show floor map, exhibitors list and all of the most up-to-date information, click here.

Preparing For What Comes Next

Respected economist Dr. Elliot Eisenberg will kick off IFAI Expo 2022, sharing his thoughts on the economic outlook for the rest of the year and beyond (see p. 30). Known as the bow-tie economist, Dr. Eisenberg will deliver a keynote that will help your business prepare for the future, while also keeping you entertained. We talked to Dr. Eisenberg to get a preview of his keynote address.

Q: What can IFAI Expo attendees expect from your presentation?

A:They’ll get some insight into where the economy is likely to go, so that they can better plan a little bit. The way things are now may not be how they are in six months or 12 months. Let’s sort of look at the tea leaves, or let’s look at some trends and say, “Hey, things may change.” 

There’s some reasonable probabilities that things are going to be different in nine months or 12 months. Things look okay-ish now, but they may well be considerably weaker then. So get a bit of a jump start, and it’s not a matter of necessarily altering massively your business plan, but it certainly means tweaking it a little bit here and there.

Q: What are some of the top economic issues you’re watching right now?

A: There are a number, but I think uppermost in … every economist’s mind, is the likelihood of a recession coming in the not terribly distant future, that the combination of this bad news that we receive or that we’re experiencing is palpably shaping behavior. 

So we’ve got the shooting war in Europe, which is sort of incomprehensibly bad. It’s caused all kinds of bad inflation problems, food inflation, energy inflation and so on. Transportation problems have been exacerbated as well; shipping doesn’t work so well. … Labor problems have been bad. Supply chain problems have been bad. Chinese policy has been bad.

We’re kind of living in a Schrödinger economy, with the labor market being really, really strong, but a recession sort of around the corner. And they’re not unrelated, of course. One’s sort of causing the other to some extent, but this recession likelihood is really palpable. So if you look at the labor market, you go, “Wow, things are great. Unemployment’s low, workers get jobs. Phenomenal.” That’s true, but it’s a bit of a lagging economic indicator too, as we know, so looking at the labor market is giving you a false reading of the future.

Q: What can our members do to prepare their businesses for a possible recession?

A: There are a few things they can do. One is be fiscally conservative, I would say, and corporately aggressive. Aggressive in chasing business and looking for new markets and expanding your outreach. The clients you have are going to shrink in size, or they’re going to shrink in the amount of money they spend on your product every quarter or month, so try and find some new clients, one. Two, steal some good employees from your competitors. Some of your competitors aren’t going to make it through, and take advantage of it. “Oh my gosh, so-and-so, they’ve got a really excellent sales manager. She’s phenomenal or she’s terrific.” Go over and make them an offer they can’t refuse, number two. Number three, think about, all right, can you sustain a 10% or 15% decline in sales, and what would that look like? So do some scenario testing or some stress testing on your own balance sheet, in your own income statement, in your own cash flow situation.

Q: Why are you excited to be speaking at IFAI Expo?

A: I want to help. I truly care about my audience. I love my audience and I care. Look, I don’t know the future any better than anybody else … but I’d like to give people some insight into an area that’s, at present, very confusing. 

The opening keynote is included in all registration packages and is open to all attendees and exhibitors.

Expand Your IFAI Expo Experience

Whether you are a regular attendee of IFAI Expo or this is your first time joining us, get familiar with highlights happening this year in Charlotte.

2022 Highlights

Advanced Textiles Conference

The Advanced Textiles (AT) Conference begins on Tuesday, Oct. 11, with a full afternoon dedicated to advanced textiles classroom education and continues with sessions throughout IFAI Expo until Oct. 14. The AT Conference will help you stay informed on the latest products, technology and applications developing in the AT industry. An All Access Registration is required to attend.

Your marketplace

Source fabric, equipment, manufacturers and referrals on the show floor. The Advanced Textiles and Specialty Fabrics areas feature more than 250 exhibitors.

Keynote speaker

Elliot Eisenberg, Ph.D. is an internationally acclaimed economist and public speaker specializing in making the arcana and minutia of economics fun, relevant and educational.

Campfire sessions

Join fresh, informative and interactive sessions on the show floor—more than 20 over the course of three days.

Hands-On training

Work directly with top industry experts on the show floor.

Awards Gallery

View outstanding and innovative projects representing the latest accomplishments in design and manufacturing within the specialty fabrics industry in our International Achievement Awards Gallery. New this year to IFAI Expo, view all Award entries alongside the winners spanning over 40 categories.

In-Depth education

Choose from a variety of education formats that promise to give you valuable knowledge and insight through more than 30 hours of classroom sessions.

Deep Dive Workshops

New in 2022, IFAI Expo Workshops will offer a chance for attendees to take a deep dive into important topics that will help you better run your business. Each workshop is taught by a leading expert in the field, with concrete takeaways that you can implement in your company today.

Opening reception

After the show floor closes, keep the energy going by networking with industry peers. Enjoy refreshments and conversation after the first day of IFAI Expo.

Demo area

Visit the demo area for live demonstrations of manufacturing techniques on the show floor.


This marks the first ever co-located IFAI Expo with Messe Stuttgart’s new U.S.-based show Sun Shading Expo North America. This brings a new valuable component to the show floor and a chance to connect with fellow attendees and exhibitors.

Experience the Advanced Textiles Conference at IFAI Expo

The Advanced Textiles (AT) Conference starts on Tuesday, Oct. 11, with a full afternoon dedicated to advanced textiles education, including a welcome lunch with a plenary session at 11:30 a.m., followed by a networking reception after the education for the day concludes at 5 p.m. The AT Conference continues with morning advanced textile classroom sessions on Oct. 12–13. Choose from 18 classroom sessions, 50 minutes each, that will cover content in these tracks: Innovations in Wearables/E-Textiles, Industry 4.0/Advanced Manufacturing and Applications in Advanced Textiles.

An All Access registration is required to attend the Advanced Textiles Conference. The registration also includes three days of show floor access and campfire education, keynote speaker, opening reception, and all industry classroom education.

View all Advanced Textiles education at

Campfire Sessions

Experience free informal discussions on the show floor. Plan to attend as many sessions as possible. View the full list at Schedules are subject to change

Topics include


  • Scissors 101
  • Acquiring Capital and Buying Equipment for Your Business in a New Economy
  • Effective Ways to Use Social Media to Drive Sales
  • How Test Methods Impact Performance Standards for Coated Fabrics
  • Better Design for Better Products
  • Running an International Business in this Current World Economy
  • Federal Policy Update
  • Selling Beyond Textiles
  • Increasing Export Sales


  • Sustainable Lightweights: Benefits of Membrane Structure
  • How to Get Into Selling Shade Sails Without Having to Be a Manufacturer
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Say No to a Project
  • Cleaning+Greening=Outdoor Fabric Market Growth  
  • Understanding How to Add Shade Sails to Your Business
  • A Material Health Approach to Structure Membranes-Sustainable Solutions
  • Common Freight Mistakes That Are Costing You Big


  • SmartTex Experiments: What We’ve Learned
  • Overcoming Start-up Challenges
  • Insulation and Thermal Management Applications of Textiles for Personal Protective Equipment
  • Collaboration with Industry and Academia
  • Circularity and Nonwovens: Future Opportunities and Challenges for the Industry
  • UV-Curable Polymers for Use in Composites 
  • What You Need to Know About Microplastics

Special Events at IFAI Expo

In addition to doing business on the show floor and sharpening your knowledge through education, IFAI Expo offers numerous special events for networking. Familiarize yourself with all the special events.

Unless otherwise noted, all activities take place at the Charlotte Convention Center.

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Elliot Eisenberg

Wednesday, Oct. 12, 8:30 AM

Elliot Eisenberg, Ph.D., is an internationally acclaimed economist and public speaker specializing in making the arcana and minutia of economics fun, relevant and educational. Dr. Eisenberg is the Chief Economist for GraphsandLaughs, LLC, a Miami-based economic consulting firm that serves a variety of clients across the United States. His research and opinions have been featured in numerous publications. He is a regularly featured guest on cable news programs, talk and public radio. 

Included in all registration packages. Open to all attendees and exhibitors.

IFAI Expo Opening Reception

Photography by Mark Skalny

Wednesday, Oct. 12, 5–6:30 PM

Included in all registration packages. Open to all attendees and exhibitors.

Mix and mingle with fellow attendees and exhibitors after the first day of IFAI Expo at the Opening Reception. Enjoy refreshments and great conversation to wrap up the first day of the show.

Fun Run/Walk

Thursday, Oct. 13, 7:15 AM

Location: Meet at Westin Charlotte Lobby

Tickets required. Member $30, nonmember $55.

IFAI Expo’s Annual 5K Fun Run/Walk is back. Participants will be guided by experienced locals through Uptown Charlotte, learning about the city along the way! Experience all the local views Charlotte has to offer with your preferred pace group. 

Pet a Puppy

The cutest booth on the show floor is coming back to IFAI Expo. Take a break or bring your business to the puppy booth. Proceeds to be donated to a local organization. Give to a good cause and recharge with a puppy!

Industry Night

Wednesday, Oct. 12, 7–9:30 PM

Location: Charlotte Beer Garden

Tickets required. Member $59, nonmember $79. The option to buy multiple tickets to invite colleagues or clients is also available.

Industry Night returns for a night filled with live music from ATA member band Hangin’ by a Thread. Hosted at the Charlotte Beer Garden which features the world’s largest selection of draft beers available in one restaurant, Industry Night attendees will enjoy live music, close to 500 beers to select from, and food. 

Demo Area

Wdnesday, Oct. 12, 11–11:45 AM; 2–2:45 PM

Thursday, Oct. 13, 11–11:45 AM; 1–1:45 PM

Friday, Oct. 14, 11–11:45 AM

The Demo Area is a hands-on educational space for both makers and materials suppliers. The space will feature live sewing demonstrations and offers a shop-like experience on the show floor. Attendees will be able to learn a variety of manufacturing techniques while connecting with their industry. Come learn, share stories, troubleshoot problems, and see how textiles are fabricated into end products.

Deep Dive Workshops

Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2–4 PM

Registration required. Member $99, nonmember $199.

New for 2022, these in-depth workshops give you a chance to spend an extended session with an industry expert. Two sessions are available: 

Management Excellence with Madeleine MacRae

Management isn’t easy. Nobody is born with management skills and even the most natural-born leaders have to learn how to manage. So, if it’s not hard-wired, how do some excel at it more easily than others?

Hiring and Managing Millennials and Gen Zs with Tim Ledwein

When it comes to the younger generations, do we understand what motivates them? Do we know how to coach and motivate them to be successful?

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