LOS ANGELES — Budget-conscious designers and manufacturers sought innovation at a reasonable price at the Los Angeles International Textile Show.
Held at the California Market Center, the three-day show that ended Wednesday drew designers from various parts of California and as far away as Hawaii in search of textured textiles and novelty. Exhibitors and attendees said they continued to grapple with a challenged economy that keeps encountering obstacles despite some gradual improvement.
“We expect 2012 to hopefully be better,” said T.H. Min, president of Fashion Flying, a textile maker based in Seoul. “There are unexpected problems like the Middle East war and Japan’s earthquake and tsunami. [Consumers] are worried about the future and don’t want to spend money on clothes.”
On the bright side, Min and other Korean executives said they hoped the imminent passing of a free trade agreement between South Korea and the U.S. would eliminate taxes and tariffs that add as much as 33 percent to prices.
“For the textile [industry], it’ll help a lot,” Min said, “because there’s a lot of price difference between Korea-made and China-made [fabrics].”
Innovation helped some exhibitors stand out from the crowd. Galina Sobolev, the Los Angeles-based designer of women’s contemporary label Single, targeted the digital prints on silk satin offered by South Korea’s Okto F. Works.
“I’m looking for new prints with movement,” said Sobolev, eyeing one swatch printed with an image of horses running in water.
Thinking of how sensitive her customers are to pricing, she pondered using the digital print on polyester instead of silk, thus saving $8 a yard.
“We’re doing a lot of fabric mixing — silk on front and knit on back,” she said of another cost-cutting technique.
Lissette Guzman, designer of a lingerie line called Madame X in San Diego, sought lace, sequins and dynamic color combinations such as black and red to give her customers the neo-vintage trend that was popularized in the movie “Burlesque.” Keeping her retail prices between $30 and $90, she felt she had little choice but to work with foreign mills that were more competitively priced than their domestic counterparts.
“A lot of people are not spending so you have to keep your cost low,” she said. “Foreign markets offer a lot better pricing.”
Deena Tearney, designer of women’s contemporary label Umee in Honolulu, preferred natural, breathable fabrics that would suit the Hawaiian climate. Although cotton and silk were her top choices, she was concerned about their rising costs.
“I was looking at some alternatives,” she said, adding that bamboo and hemp were possible new fabrics she’d try. Blending other fibers with cotton was another option, but “it’d have to feel right,” she said.
Textured textiles attracted Fran Farmer, a San Anselmo, Calif.-based designer who is working on launching a contemporary knits line. In addition to double knits and ponte, she also liked bouclé and crepe with a high twist. Even though the expo was highlighting the spring 2012 season, she was shopping for materials for her fall debut collection.
Exhibitors appealed to buyers with an array of eye-catching fabrics. Avetco Inc., based in Pacoima, Calif., layered lace over cowhide that was priced at $5 a square foot. Japan’s Yagi offered a heavyweight heathered French terry for $16 a yard. Los Angeles’ City Textile Inc. made its debut at the trade fair with colorful polyester knits costing $4.50 to $5 a yard. Despite prices running from $40 to $90 a yard, France’s Solstiss received attention for its cotton guipure displaying a variety of patterns, such as cobweb-inspired circles and big flowers. Epic Textiles pushed novelty in the form of eyelet and crinkled mesh dotted with tiny nubs.
“You can get basics in the big-box stores,” said Connie Crebbin, a sales representative for Epic Textiles in Vernon, Calif. “It’s great to have texture. It’s great to stand out on the rack.”
The show’s Premium Korea Pavilion gathered 13 brands in the CMC’s Fashion Theatre on the first floor. Lenzing, the Austrian-based fiber producer that owns the trademark for Tencel, more than quadrupled the number of participants in its grouping in the penthouse to 22 from four. As cotton’s pricing and supply have become less stable and the demand for a soft, draping fabric like Tencel has risen, Lenzing said it’s been receiving more requests from mills to switch from spinning cotton to producing Tencel, which averages in price from $3 to $6 a yard.
“People are looking for alternatives,” said Tricia Carey, a merchandising manager at Lenzing.
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye