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Knitting / Apparel

Fabric Week In New York

Shows in the Big Apply previewed Spring/Summer 2006 apparel fabrics.

By Virginia S. Borland, New York Correspondent

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European Preview set up a special display to provide attendees with an overview of fabric trends presented at the show.

F abrics from Europe, Turkey and Asia, along with surface design from international studios, attracted record numbers of buyers to a series of shows held recently in New York City.

All of the shows, which previewed fabrics for Spring/Summer 2006, were impacted by the euro/dollar exchange rate and textile imports from low-wage countries. Although the falling dollar drove up prices of European fabrics, the 137 exhibitors at European Preview reported excellent reactions to their new lines from the more than 3,000 visitors who attended the show.

The range of fabrics shown by 49 companies at the Turkish Fashion Fabric Exhibition (TFFE), organized by the Istanbul Textile and Apparel Exporters Association (ITKIB), included classic suitings, denims, knits, prints and shirtings. Buyers came from firms such as Calvin Klein, Gap, Paul Stuart, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger. Innovation Asia, organized by Lenzing AG, Austria, showcased 23 mills from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and India. Many of the exhibitors are vertical, selling yarn, fabric and apparel.

Two shows that focus on surface design, Direction and Printsource, have expanded their scope. This year, there were about 150 studios from Europe, Asia, Israel, and North and South America at each show.

European Preview

Now in its 10th season, European Preview has a waiting list of exhibitors. The mix of participating companies and their focuses are changing. Absent this time were many that sell expensive fabrics aimed at couture markets, such as Bianchini, Bucol, Mantero, Ratti and Solstiss.

Frans Damide, president and CEO, Solstiss/Bucol America, New York City, said that when the dollar and euro were on a par, firms in designer and bridge markets would shop his lines for that something extra. "We know how to reach our regular customers. It was the surprise visits by those we don't work with on a regular basis that made it a good show for us. Now they cannot afford us," he said.

This sentiment was echoed by others at the show. Picking up on that something extra, exhibitors showed fewer basic fabrics. Quality, novelty and performance fabrics give more individuality.

At Milior S.p.A., Italy, the emphasis was on new finishes. The company showed compact cottons and linen/nylon blends with enzyme finishes to give them an ultra-soft hand, overdyed printed canvas, diamond finishes, washed fabrics and yarn-dyed twills that can be overdyed or garment-dyed. Paper yarns in thick, shiny/dull weaves are bulky and lightweight. There is a lot of stretch and special weave effect. According to Milior, jacquards and prints will be added.

Ulster Weavers Apparel Ltd., Ireland, showed new finishing treatments, blends and textures. There are metallic and chintz surfaces that keep their luster through multiple washings, crinkles, seersuckers and stretch linens. Linen is sometimes blended with Supima® cotton, Tactel® nylon or viscose. Some linens are subtly printed with gold and silver. There also are yarn-dyed shirtings in linen/Lycra® blends, and summer tweeds designed for golfwear.

Donna Karen used lace from Solstiss in this evening dress.

Fred Rottman, who heads the New York City office of Italy-based Picchi Mills S.p.A., said Picchi's line is more refined than in seasons past. There are linens and linen/cotton blends with pearlized coatings, and blends that have been polyurethane-printed. Matte/sheen jacquards that have dimensional patterns are available in a wide range of weights, and are woven in acetate/viscose/ cotton blends. Tweeds and jacquards at France-based Tournier and Fils are woven with fancy yarns in multifiber blends of cotton/viscose/ silk/linen, often with nylon or Lurex® added for a subtle touch of shine. Pearly pastel shades and tonal colors were pointed out. Another France-based firm, Isoule Textil, mentioned interest in whitened colors, black and white, and touches of sparkle. Stretch linens, silk tweeds and shantung are some of its early offerings. Tintore-Turull S.A., Spain, showed yarn-dyed plaids of 100-percent linen that are overdyed with silver and washed to give them subtle luster and a slightly faded appearance. Cotton piques  have been treated in a similar fashion. There also are dyed and piece-washed rustic linens, jacquards and piques.

 Lanficio Lamberto, Italy, displayed sheers, stretch and jacquards in linen and blends. There are crinkled stretch fabrics with metallic stripes, dvndigo dyes that have a refined denim look, pleated sheers with ribbon flower appliquand opaque/sheer linen checks. At Wilhelm Becker, Germany, customers are looking for novelty and fabrics with hidden functions. Armani buys jacquards here. There are large-scale jacquard-weave herringbones, natural stretch crepes that don't wrinkle, summery cotton tweeds, and stripes woven with a cotton warp and stretch nylon weft. Nanotechnology imparts soil-release finishes. Bamboo yarns are popular. Fabrics with a dry hand are selling well in Europe, according to the company.

Fabrics With Memory

Fabrics with a high percentage of metal are called memory fabrics because they keep their wrinkles when they are crushed, and can be hand-smoothed. Steel turns up frequently. Metal has made a strong comeback at Schoeller Textil AG, Switzerland, which introduced it to its line several years ago. One of the newest fabrics is a lustrous, iridescent taffeta woven in a blend of 75 percent metal/20 percent nylon/5 percent elastane. Schoeller reports color-reverse, lightweight, soft-stretch fabrics finished with 3XDRY® technology also are selling well. They are wind- and water-repellent and breathable, and provide moisture control. Linea Tessile Italiana S.p.A., Italy, has linen/steel blends in 180-grams-per-square-meter (gr/m2) jacquard weaves that have a soft touch. Bright shades of yellow, orange and tomato red sometimes are combined with brown or black. There are sheer satin stripes printed with spots and splashes of metal, printed and embroidered polyester/ viscose crushed satin, and light silk shantung. Prints are large in scale and have an Oriental or Indian look. Dvinens in weights ranging from 190 to 300 g/m2 were pointed out.

Reynaud Rexo, France, specializes in cocktail and eveningwear fabrics. It is showing shiny taffetas and organzas woven of 70-percent polyester and 30-percent metal. Some have ombre grounds. Philea Textil, France, is showing metal covered with cotton. Many fabrics in this line are woven with novelty or printed yarns. Shiny stretch shantung, lustered taffeta, pigment-dyed crinkle crepes washed to give a vintage look, stretch satiny washed twills and multicolored chenille stripes are some of the firms best sellers.

Sportswear

For sportswear and outerwear, Olmetex S.p.A., Italy, has polyurethane-coated lightweight iridescent taffeta woven in a blend of metal/micropolyester. Many fabrics in this line are color-reverse, coated and water-repellent. Some have enzyme finishes; others have a rubber touch. Polyester microfiber/silk blends have been splattered or crystal-printed in circle patterns. There also are soft linens with a denim look and bonded Mackintosh-type fabrics.

The line at Frantissor Creations, France, is traditional mixed with sophistication. Neutrals, muted brights and pastels are shades of note. Cotton/nylon twills are jacquard-patterned and embroidered for a rich look. Spain-based denim specialist Tejidos-Royo has developed dyeing techniques for special effects. Yellow-core-yarn denim is overdyed with indigo. When it is sandblasted, the yellow comes through to give a vintage look. Denim woven with multicolored yarn and indigo-dyed has a mottled look when the fabric is abraded. There are comfort-stretch denim with 1-percent Lycra and pigment-dyed slubbed denim. Flocking is a specialty of Wonder S.r.l., Italy. It is done on a variety of fabrics from denim with a distressed look to iridescent cotton and linen. Some of the fabrics are soft and sueded. There are large- and small-scale coordinating patterns.

Knits

Innovation and performance are key in the knit sector. Switzerland-based Greuter-Jersey AG had a good reaction to fabrics knitted with its Clima yarns. Spun with Meryl® Nexten/cotton/Micromodal®, these yarns have moisture-transport, insulation and fast-dry properties. Another yarn, Clima Plus, is bacteriostatic. Dryarn® jersey contains micro-polypropylene. It is soft, water-repellent and odor-free. Another yarn contains microcapsules of aloe vera that remain effective through 10 washing cycles. At Marioboselli Jersey S.p.A., Italy, there is a group of fabrics knitted of 94-percent linen/6-percent Lycra. They are lightweight and slubbed, and have a dry hand. Another group includes fluid, soft and sheer fabrics that contain Modal®/nylon or viscose/Lycra blends. Jacquards of 100-percent linen are styled for T-shirts and beach dresses. Swimwear knits are dazzling gold, smooth and slippery.

Tom Cody Design combined prints and embellishments at Printsource for bohemian and gypsy looks.

France-based knitter Billon Freres has a group of tight stretch knits created for yoga and performance apparel. Knit of Meryl Microfiber with 13-percent Lycra, they have brightly colored, dimensional patterns. Other fabrics include printed opaque/sheer stripes, shiny/dull jacquards, puckered and lacy knits and iridescent mesh. There are bright stripes with touches of Lurex, new paisleys and yarn-dyed jacquards with global ethnic influences.

Silks

Collections in the silk sector are dazzling, woven with metallic yarns, appliques with sequins, luster-coated and brightly printed. "It's color, color and color," said Susanne Tamavongs, export/sales manager, Weisbrod-Zuerrer AG, Switzerland. Warp-printed jacquards in garden-bright shades and global ethnic designs are some of the firms early ideas. It will be adding ink-jet prints on silk and cotton jacquards.

Gratacos S.A., Spain, showed an ultra-sheer memory fabric woven with nylon/polyester/metal. Iridescent organza woven with 67-percent silk/33-percent Lurex has a glittery cellophane appearance. There are printed shantungs appliques with beads and sequins, and jacquards that have shiny coated finishes.

At  A.B. Creations by France-based Fabien Doligez, textures, patterns, weights and treatments coordinate. There are cotton sateens and voiles with groups of prints that work together, yarn-dyed raschel knits in stripes and zigzags that coordinate with one another and with stretch seersucker, color-reverse jacquards and groups of global ethnic designs. There also are sparkling woven or printed fabrics that contain metallic yarns, and coordinating cotton/steel/nylon stripes and solids that have a casual elegance.

Prints

Splashes of glitter, bursts of color, cool linens, and sheer silks and cottons are favorite printed fabrics. At Miroglio S.p.A., Italy, there is more silk than in seasons past; a lot of print designs have a tendency towards high fashion and away from basics. There are printed silk chiffons with Lurex, as well as lacy meshes and viscose crinkles. Prints range from rich, urban ethnic designs to newly styled skins and paisleys. Many have touches of gold; most are large in scale or very small and neat. Pasarela S.L., Spain, specializes in polyester. Sometimes it is blended with viscose or Lycra. Many of the base fabrics are jacquards and piques. Tie-dyed grounds are overprinted with flowers or African designs. A group of Victorian-inspired flowers is printed to look like crewel embroidery.

France-based Komar is printing on linen/viscose and linen/cotton fabrics. Border patterns are richly colored. There are feminine flowers printed on cotton lawn or stretch bottomweights, and gypsy-inspired ethnics. Black and white, chalky pastels, and rich bright shades are shown. Texture and embellishment are in abundance. Spicy colors and whitened pastels containing Lurex are at France-based Chaine et Trame S.A. Global ethnic patterns on mesh, voile or rayon/spandex knits were pointed out. There are paisley variations colored in olive/turquoise/orange or plum/ pink/olive.

Turkish Fashion Fabric Exhibition

According to ITKIB, textile and apparel production in Turkey account for 32 percent of total export earnings. In 2004, it reached $17.6 billion. Turkish fabrics are basic, of high quality and priced lower than European offerings, but higher than Asian. Bossa, part of the Sabanci Textile Group, has become the largest integrated textile company in Turkey, with five manufacturing plants producing outerwear, shirting, denim and sportswear fabrics. Sportswear fabrics for womenswear were shown in crisp-touch fabrics in pastel colors with dimensional effects. Madeira, orange and green were prominent colors. All-cotton, no-iron shirting fabrics are one new innovation at Bossa; another is antibacterial treatments. Designs include dobbies, jacquards and stripes. There are cotton/ nylon stretch fabrics, cotton/linen textures and crepons. Colors are toning down and less sharp than they were a year ago. There is a lot happening in the Bossa denim division. All Bossa denims are ring-spun. Based on market demand, the company is adding capacity with new spinning frames and new looms. A patchwork denim blanket showed 11 different colors sewn together. It was stonewashed for 90 minutes to give customers an idea of how different dyes react. According to the company, Europeans have opted for greener-cast denim; customers in the United States are buying red casts. Bamboo-content denim is a success story. It offers a soft hand and subtle luster. Stretch is selling well in menswear, especially comfort stretch with 1- or 2-percent spandex.

The Turkish Fashion Fabric Exhibition presented fabrics from 49 companies.

At Altinyildiz, linen and linen blends in classic yarn-dyed checks are popular. New finishes give fabrics a silk touch. Bottomweight twills dyed in metallic colors and washed were pointed out at Dynamo. Linen/cotton canvas, multicolored striped shirtings and slightly crinkled surfaces are other fabrics of note.

At Btd, New York City-based agent Francesca DeVito said summer bottom- and suitweight fabrics are among its current best sellers. She pointed out stretch polyester/ viscose/spandex twills in solids, classic checks and suiting stripes; and for casualwear, she showed a sateen of 97-percent cotton and 3-percent spandex.

Linen fabrics have a crisp hand or are enzyme-treated for a velvet touch. "Our fabrics have an Italian feel at lower prices," she said. At Yunsa, color and texture are emphasized. Crepe weaves, dobbies, linen/viscose, cotton/viscose and washable wool/polyester/Lycra suiting fabrics are popular. Knitted fabrics at Sucuka are ultra-soft. There are sheer flocked nets, lacy knits, metallic prints and crinkles. Nylon with a cotton touch and nylon/Lycra blends are selling to the lingerie market.

Kokteyl has cotton/bamboo/spandex knits that are going into sportswear. Organic cotton with moisture-transport properties, silky-touch Tencel/spandex and viscose with silk nubs are other new items. Popular prints at Confetti Fabrics include African and South Sea Island motifs. Base cloths include cloques, burn-outs, and matte/sheen stripes and jacquards.

Innovation Asia

Basic yarns, fabrics and garments at good prices attracted buyers to Innovation Asia, a showcase of products containing Tencel and Modal. Of special interest was a new compact spinning process called Ecosil developed by Korea-based Samil Spinning Co. Ltd. Fine, smooth yarns that are less hairy than ring-spun or open-end yarns are produced. The price is the same as that of ring-spun yarns. Ecosil is being used for knitted and woven fabrics for apparel and the home.

Nam Kwang Textile Co. Ltd., Korea, is using Ecosil yarns for knitted fabrics. Especially popular are stripes that have been washed for a vintage look.

Mozartex Co. Ltd., China, is selling Tencel/cotton with a soft touch to Dockers for pants. There are Tencel/polyester/cotton fabrics with water-repellent finishes that last through 30 washings, embossed fabrics that have the look of jacquards, embroidered shirtings, yarn dyes and pigment prints.

Willgold Industrial Co. Ltd., Taiwan, reports dobbies, jacquards, yarn-dyed stripes and prints that have been enzyme-washed for a peach-skin hand are of interest. They are knitted and woven with Tencel or Modal blended with cotton, linen, nylon or polyester.

Upstairs/Downstairs For Print and Pattern

Direction and Printsource, two shows that specialize in surface design, are held at the same time and at the same location. Printsource is held in the Hotel Pennsylvania Penthouse Pavilion, while Direction is held at street level in the Penn Plaza Pavilion. Not only do the shows attract the same buyers, but some of the same exhibitors are at both shows. Tom Cody Design, which has locations in New York City and London, and New York City-based Splash Ltd. showed sophisticated designs for womenswear downstairs; fabrics for juniors and childrenswear were shown upstairs.

Tom Cody's upstairs look was whimsical, with bold stripes and borders in rainbow colors and carnival-inspired prints in sorbet colors. Downstairs, there were gypsy bohemian looks in earthy shades and sheer romantic patterns for tops. Prints and embellishments often are combined. All were shown on fabrics shaped to suggest a finished garment. Cody's customers run the gamut, from fabric converters to garment manufacturers and retailers. His best seller is a newly styled paisley. The emphasis at Splash was on global ethnics, with prints shown on batik and ikat grounds. They are selling to all markets, including boys, swimwear and sleepwear. Tonal tropicals and placed designs were pointed out.

Brazil-based Santa Mistura, representing 24 Brazilian designers, was a new exhibitor at Direction. Print styles for apparel and the home vary from ethnic to abstract to romantic at this design firm. All are created using Pantone colors.

Ethnic print nationalities run the gamut, from African tribal, South Sea Island tropical and Japanese ikat to European gypsy, Aztec, Incan and Native American. The newest prints are globally inspired, combining motifs of many countries. The Colorfield Design Studio and Marilyn Kern Textile Designs Inc., both based in New York City, showed global ethnic designs. Paisleys at Colorfield have a gypsy look, while linear and geometric designs have a Bauhaus look, and flowers are small and detailed or combined with geometrics. At Marilyn Kern, flowers are botanical or small in scale.


Scottish Cashmere: Maintaining Quality

The Scottish Cashmere Club recently embarked on a brand campaign, Truth in Cashmere, to alert the textile, fashion and retail industries that there are differences among cashmere products. "Cashmere isn't just cashmere," said Graeme Sands, consulting project manager and spokesman for the club. "A product with the Cashmere Made in Scotland hang tag is manufactured in Scotland to the highest level of workmanship." Membership in the club is limited to Scotland-based yarn spinners, weavers and knitters that conform to the strictest standards of fiber, yarn and manufacturing quality. Yarns must be 100-percent cashmere spun in Europe. Fibers must be Chinese or Mongolian in origin, and must be a minimum of 34 millimeters in length and have a maximum thickness of 16.5 microns. Products are tested, starting with the fiber and continuing through every stage to the finished product, whether yarn, apparel, accessories or home furnishings. There are multiple tests to ensure that Cashmere Made in Scotland fully lives up to its reputation as the highest-quality cashmere in the world. Yarn-spinner members of the club are Todd and Duncan and Z. Hinchliffe and Sons Ltd. Weavers include Begg Scotland, Johnstons and Lochcarron of Scotland. Others involved with knitwear and accessories are Ballantyne Cashmere, Hawick Cashmere Co., John Laing of Hawick Ltd., Murray Allan Cashmere, Peter Scott and Co. Ltd., Scottand Charters (Havick) Ltd. and William Lockie and Co. Ltd.

Johnstons, a member of the Scottish Cashmere Club, produces cashmere knitwear.

Members have invested in the latest state-of-the-art technologies. Forget the stodgy reputation frequently associated with Scottish woolens. Colors, weaves, patterns and textures going into Scottish cashmere products are versatile and fashionable. Members are creating new concepts each season and working with customers through the supply chain to deliver quality products that have a luxurious look; soft, sensual touch; and a high level of performance.

"Washing Scottish cashmere improves its bloom," Sands said. "Properly handled, there is less pilling and greater durability. We want the trade and consumer alike to be aware of the difference. Cashmere with our Cashmere Made in Scotland hang tag lives up to its reputation for integrity in fashion and quality."

All branded product must be sold as first-line merchandise; discounts should never be applied.

Cashmere quality control also is an issue in the United States. Commenting on quality control at the retail level in the United States, Karl Spilhaus, president, Cashmere and Camel Hair Manufacturers Institute (CCMI), Boston, mentioned that one of the functions of CCMI is to test products purchased at retail to verify fiber content and performance that is listed on hang tags and labels. "You'd be surprised at how many major and prestigious retailers have mislabeled merchandise, and how many times we have sued them," he said.


March 2005




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