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Knitting / Apparel

Fiber Focus

Part 2 of a two-part feature focusing on the apparel and fiber industry including new fibers and fabrics, style forecasts and color trends.

Virginia S. Borland, New York Correspondent

By Virginia S. Borland, New York CorrespondentFiber Focus Part 2 of a two-part feature focusing on the apparel fiber industry including new fibers and fabrics, style forecasts and trends.Fiber developers are focusing more and more on specialty products for specific end-uses. In addition, companies are working with customers to develop trend information and to provide fabric libraries and other resources.Pliana Inc., headquartered in Mexico City, with US headquarters in Charlotte, is a major producer of polypropylene. Its niche market is chenille yarns for home furnishings, and contract and military apparel fabrics. Automotive interiors is another targeted end-use. We are constantly coming out with new specialty products, said Don Clark, president and CEO. Last year, 25 percent of our sales were new yarns that we developed together with a specific customer. Once we get the concept, we can create the product in about two weeks. We are able to handle orders as small as 500 pounds or as large as 10,000 pounds.The newest yarns at Pliana are Alchemy, an ultra-soft-hand microdenier chenille developed for the upholstery industry; and Mystique, a completely new concept. According to Clark, it has an exceptionally dry hand. Along with polyester, weve branched out into nylon chenilles for rugs, Clark said. We are known for novelty and color. We have an unlimited number of combinations; boucl#44; ratin#44; and wrapped and twisted yarns are a few.Unifi Honored,Duofold Chooses New SorbtekUnifi Inc., Greensboro, N.C., recently received the US Department of Commerce Export Achievement Award for its use of the Caribbean Basin Initiative. In 2002, Unifis export volume to participating Caribbean Basin countries grew by 112 percent over its previous fiscal year. For fiscal 2003, volume is already up by 165 percent. The future of the domestic textile industry depends on taking full advantage of favorable trade legislation, and we are pleased that our efforts and success have been recognized by the Department of Commerce, said Chris Flanagan, director of export services for Unifi.Sorbtek, one of Unifis high-performance yarns, was selected for a new moisture-management fabric, HydRID, by Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Duofold, the Performance Apparel Division of Sara Lee Corp. Jon Hay, director of sales and marketing, Duofold, said, The combination of Sorbtek with our spun yarn greatly enhances the fabrics comfort and moisture management qualities. The product is easy to dye and finish, and with added durability, it is amazing how well it performs.

Linda Conlin, assistant secretary of commerce for trade development, presented the the US Department of Commerce Export Achievement award to Chris Flanagan, director of export services, Unifi.Meadowbrook TargetsNew Markets For Angelina®With its Angelina® 100-percent aluminum fibers, Meadowbrook Inventions Inc., Bernardsville, N.J., targets the contract, hospitality, healthcare, residential upholstery, drapery, carpet and automotive markets. Roberta M. Ruschmann, vice president, marketing, Angelina Fibers, pointed out that Meadowbrooks metal fibers offer many technical benefits. Aluminum fibers are thermal-regulating, solvent-resistant and tolerant of extremely high temperatures. Angelina copper fibers have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antifungal properties. In apparel, copper, which is gradually absorbed upon direct contact with the skin, improves blood circulation, increases energy and has anti-arthritic properties.Mills working with Angelina fibers include Absecon, Newcastle, Bentex, Fabric Corp., Phifer Wire Products, Dorr Woolen Mills, H. WarshowandSons and Peru Naturtex.
Meadowbrook Inventions Angelina® fibers, made from 100-percent metal, are targeted for use in a variety of markets including hospitality and residential upholstery.Lenzing Fibers ReceivesAward, Enters New MarketIn recognition of Austria-based Lenzing Fibers concern for the environment, the company has been awarded the European Union Eco-Label award. In accepting the award, Franz Raninger, a member of the Lenzing Board of Directors, noted that all Lenzing fibers are manufactured from wood. The company is committed to the idea of sustainability, and its fibers are manufactured in an environmentally friendly fashion.One new market area for Lenzing Lyocell® is shirts and blouses. The company is working with Spanish designer Miguel Diaz to create a new collection that will highlight the comfort and performance properties afforded by this fiber.Linen For All SeasonsPauline Delli-Carpini, US representative, Masters of Linen, New York City, reports that linen is turning up in more Fall fabric lines, especially in blends with wool and/or Lycra®, and with some of the new finishes that give it added performance. Trans-seasonal linens are being knitted or woven that have a warm, cozy touch. Some of the new linens have crease recovery, obtained using softening treatments that improve the look and drape of the fabric. There are linen fabrics that are stain-resistant, can be machine-washed and -dried, or are embellished with a variety of treatments, she said.Fabric, Color TrendsOrnella Bignami, an Italy-based consultant to Masters of Linen for trend forecasts, recently presented new fabrics and colors for the Fall 2004/Winter 2005 season to the New York design community. Bignami noted simple and classic fabrics including compact textures on diagonal weaves, herringbones and mock solids. There were rich tweeds; textured stripes; and shriveled, blistered and crumpled surfaces. Fabrics woven with contrasting yarns had irregular surface effects.Bignami said new finishes on linen highlight protection and comfort. She mentioned lacquered treatments, rubbery effects, double-sided quilting, insulating layers, double dyeing and metallic mirroring. Colors of note were cold neutrals contrasted with dark blues and green, blackened gray, and red as an accent. Bignami also mentioned autumnal greens used with burnt reds and clarets.Trend ForecastsWith offices and showrooms in New York City, Celanese Acetate, Cotton Incorporated, DuPont Textilesandlnteriors (DTI) and Tencel are able to work closely with direct and indirect customers. These companies provide such important services as trend information seminars directed to specific product end-uses, fabric libraries that help manufacturers find fabric resources, and customer leads for converters.Ellen Sweeney, head of marketing and merchandising for the apparel market at Celanese Acetate, is also in charge of Global Studio, an international fabric resource center for its fabrics. Each season, upward of 500 companies review Celanese Acetates new fabric collections for apparel and the home. Sweeney reported there is currently a demand for satin. It was shown in 100-percent acetate and blended with silk, Lycra, polyester or nylon. Along with solid satins in a variety of weights, there are satins with slubs, ribs and other effects. Crepes, jacquards and stripes are also popular. And we get a lot of calls for lining fabrics, she said. We have several sections devoted to linings from European, Asian, Mexican and American resources.At Celanese, Jim Siewert, manager of creative services, reports on upcoming trends pertaining to acetate. Siewerts presentations are shown first to spinners, mills and converters, with emphasis on future acetate fabric and color directions. He follows these up later with shows for apparel companies. His current Spring/Summer 2004 color card has six color groups, with five shades in each. He referred to the first group as elegant and refined, with creamy and neutral colors. A group of blues includes midnight navy, cobalt, electric blue and a soft, silvery shade. A red range is anchored by dark brown, with fuchsia, claret and brick. The greens are moss, lime, chartreuse and olive. A mid-range includes lavender, apricot and goldenrod. Siewert referred to his bright range as similar to hothouse flowers and tropical blooms.Cottonworks® Fabric LibraryOne marketing tool at Cotton Incorporated is trend forecasting for apparel and home fashions. Kathryn Novakovic, director, fashion marketing, said, For Spring/Summer 2004, there is a greater variety of color in lighter and medium tones, with less neutrals and a prevalence of darker colors. Colors to look for are subtle pinks, earthy reds, terracotta and bronzed orange tones; greens are important in subtle yellow to blue to gray shades. There are also lots of blues in indigo and purple casts. In fabrics, surface finishes enhance and enrich color while adding dimension and depth.Beauty, Charm And EnergyAt DTI, market segments are divided. Fashion Director Roseann Forde handles ready-to-wear, and Iris LeBron is fashion director for activewear and intimate apparel. One color card is developed for all end-use areas. It is customized for each product type. At DTIs Ready-to-Wear Workshops, Forde shows colors, fabrics and garments in three groups Beauty, Charm and Energy. Key garments in the Beauty group are sheath dresses, pleated skirts and lace tops. Fabrics containing Lycra or Tactel® are from international sources. There are satins and sateens, drapey jerseys and linens with Lycra from sources such as Ge-Ray Fabrics Inc., Saxon Textile Group, Texollini Inc., Milior S.p.A. and Eurojersey S.p.A. Color focus is on pretty pastels and cosmetic hues that tie in with neutrals and rich darks.The Charm group is focused on the 50s. Pale colors are combined with mid-level brights and accented with raspberry. Forde shows circular skirts, ruched knit tops and cropped jeans in stretch fabrics containing Lycra and T400. There is a variety of patterns here, including checks, stripes, dots and vintage floral prints. Fabrics in the Energy group are ribbed knits, mesh, variegated striped jerseys and waffle weaves. There is satin and a lot of luster. Some of the domestic fabric sources are Burlington Industries Inc., Victor Forstmann Inc., McMurray Fabrics Inc. and Symphony Fabrics Corp. International sources include Saic Velcorex, Tricots Liesse Inc. and Fabrica Textil Riopele S.A. Colors are bright and accented by milk chocolate and grape. Slender pants, wrapped skirts, asymmetric T-shirts and blocked tank tops are some of the garments shown.Discover, Recover And UndercoverLeBrons focus is on fashion, shape and comfort. She is showing three themes Discover, Recover and Undercover. Discover colors are tomato red and canary yellow, plus shades of henna and copper. There are animal prints, paisleys and ruffles.
Recover colors are neutrals highlighted with plum, berry and pale blue. Overscaled embroideries, fishnet and lace are in this group. Undercover intimate apparel is both practical and sensual. There are basic garments made from Supplex®/Lycra, and seamless garments made from Tactel micro touch/Lycra. Mango, milk chocolate and soft pastels are colors LeBron points out. Tarnished metallic lace and satin are in this group.Forde and LeBron both include menswear in their presentations. Forde also addresses the plus-size market. All of the fabrics shown at DTI presentations and in its fabric library are coded. Scanners pick up resource information and style numbers, along with contact data at each apparel company. This information is forwarded to each fabric source.Trends At TencelTencels Fabric Library presents fabrics by resource and by fabric type. Domestic and international sources are included. Sandy MacLennan, managing director, East Central Studios, London, does twice-yearly forecasts for Tencel. His directions are focused for the long term, on lasting items that will impact fashion. His color palette shows a large group of neutrals that are warm and cool, light and dark. They go from white, cream and camel to deep wood shades, olive and ebony. There is a range of clear, bright pastels and vivid colors that are intense, but not neon-bright.The fabrics MacLennan is showing are sophisticated and refined. Most are fluid and have a lot of drape. There are polished surfaces, canvas weaves, Tencel®/linen blends, denims that are soft and light, sheer voiles and basic twills with an ultra-soft touch. There are tonal coordinates, lingerie-inspired pretty sheers with a luxurious hand, neat micro-scaled patterns and 60s-inspired geometric prints.Stretch is one highlight at Tencel. The unique properties of the fiber enable 25-percent stretch and recovery in woven fabrics through a new processing technology.

August 2003