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New York City - Functional Fabric Fair

Sympathy Lab goes international! At the FUNCTIONAL FABRIC FAIR in New York City, our international host Charles Ross spoke to textile industry experts Alexa Dehmel and Rüdiger Fox about the current happenings in the European textile sector. The panel discussed the topics of "Circularity on global textile production" and "Design for recyclability" with the visitors of the trade-exclusive event showcasing the latest trends in fabric development for the functional textile industry and providing an opportune marketplace in the United States for the sourcing of high-performance functional fabrics and accessories.

The Topics

Circularity in global production

Circularity in global textile production refers to the concept of creating a closed-loop system that maximizes the use of resources, minimizes waste and pollution, and promotes sustainability throughout the entire lifecycle of a textile product. Circularity aims to reduce the negative impact of textile production on the environment and society by moving away from the traditional linear model of "take-make-waste" towards a circular model where resources are kept in use for as long as possible, through practices such as reuse, recycling, and repurposing.

Circularity can be achieved through various strategies, such as the use of sustainable and renewable materials, design for durability and reparability, waste reduction, and recycling. For example, textile waste can be repurposed into new textiles, or transformed into new products such as insulation or carpeting, instead of being sent to landfills. Additionally, sustainable fibers such as organic cotton or recycled polyester can be used in textile production, reducing the environmental impact of conventional fibers. The concept also involves a shift towards more sustainable business models, such as rental and subscription services, which extend the life of textile products and reduce waste. Finally, circularity in textile production also requires collaboration among various stakeholders, such as designers, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers, to promote a more sustainable and circular approach to textile production and consumption.

Design for recyclability

Designing recyclable textiles involves creating textile products that can be easily and efficiently recycled or repurposed at the end of their useful life, thereby reducing waste and promoting a more circular approach to textile production. There are several design strategies that can be used to promote recyclability in textiles. One approach is to use materials that are easily recyclable while avoiding materials that are blends of different fibers or heavily treated with chemicals. Additionally, design for disassembly can make it easier to separate different components of a textile product, such as zippers, buttons, or lining, so that they can be more efficiently recycled.

Finally, designing for durability can also promote recyclability in textiles, by extending the useful life of a product and reducing the need for frequent replacements. This can be achieved using high-quality materials, functional design features, and repairability. Recyclable design is an important strategy for promoting sustainability and circularity in the textile industry and can help to reduce waste and the environmental impact of textile production.

The Speakers

Charles Ross - International Host

Charles Ross' best skill is transforming complex information into comprehensible information. He also made a good choice 30 years ago to come indoors from being an Outward Bound Instructor. The latter was driven by returning to a cold, wet, windy, & dark England - he did not want to do much standing around outside. Fortunately, it coincided with performance outdoor clothing becoming a market segment as the rise of permeable membranes & insulations meant that the apparel progressed both technically & aesthetically. Over two decades ago he taught the first postgrad course in Performance Sportswear Design, now he is "just" a lecturer at the RCA - but he gets roped onto government-type committees investigating the sustainability issues around clothing. Otherwise, he is most proud of being a member of The Do Lecture Team but is most visible in person at industry events like Performance Days & the Functional Fabric Fair, as well as authoring several consumer & B2B columns.

Alexa Dehmel - Innovation and Sustainability Expert

Alexa Dehmel is an expert in performance sports clothing and workwear design. On top of this, she acts as an innovation & sustainability consultant and functional fabric curator and enjoys transferring her knowledge in guest lectures.

She strongly believes that the future-proof way is the most valuable way to advise companies in the textile industry.

After analyzing in-depth the potential of the current brand positioning, she focuses on high-tech, innovation and credibility. In Alexa's opinion, optimized alignment and successful implementation are achieved by co-collaborating with the internal product teams and management, resulting in more brand vitality and desirability and therefore - more brand value.

Rüdiger Fox - CEO of Sympatex

Rüdiger Fox emits the aura of a rebel. As CEO of Sympatex Technologies, one of the leading global suppliers of high-tech functional materials in clothing, footwear, accessories, protective workwear (Contract & Workwear) and technical applications, he likes to challenge current processes and fellow competitors to do better.

Sympatex materials are breathable, 100% windproof and waterproof whilst being manufactured using completely recyclable, PTFE-free membranes with zero CO2 footprint. The technologies and processes used are based on the principle of ecological responsibility and sustainability, aiming to fully close the Apparel Loop. Rüdiger Fox is also committed to finding and supporting innovative solutions for the sustainability of the textile sector as board member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.

The Event


The Functional Fabric Fair is an international trade fair that showcases the latest developments and innovations in functional fabrics and textiles. The fair brings together manufacturers, designers, and buyers of functional fabrics to explore the latest products and technologies in the field. Functional Fabric Fair typically features exhibitors from around the world showcasing a wide range of functional fabrics, including high-performance textiles, technical textiles, eco-friendly fabrics, and smart fabrics. The event provides a platform for companies to network and collaborate with others in the industry, and to learn about the latest trends and technologies shaping the future of functional fabrics.

The fair takes place in different locations around the world, including the United States, Europe, and Asia. It is typically held over several days and includes exhibits, product demonstrations, and seminars focused on the latest trends and developments in the functional fabrics industry. Functional Fabric Fair is powered by Performance Days.


Performance Days is an international trade fair for functional fabrics and textiles, primarily focused on the sportswear, outdoor, and athleisure markets. The fair is held twice a year in Munich, Germany, and it attracts designers, manufacturers, suppliers, and buyers from around the world. At Performance Days, exhibitors showcase the latest developments in performance fabrics, including technical textiles, eco-friendly fabrics, and smart textiles. The fair provides a platform for industry professionals to network, collaborate, and learn about the latest trends and technologies in the field.

In addition to the exhibition, Performance Days also features a comprehensive program of lectures, seminars, and workshops that cover a wide range of topics, such as sustainability, material innovation, and digitalization. The event is well-regarded for its commitment to sustainability and is a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, an industry-wide organization that works to reduce the environmental and social impacts of apparel and footwear products.

Performance Days is an important event for anyone involved in the design, manufacture, or sale of functional fabrics and textiles, providing valuable insights and opportunities for collaboration and growth in the industry.


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