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Denim Mills Look to Soft, Stretch for Fall

Colored denim also gets attention at L.A. Kingpins textile show.

Kingpins is expanding to Asia with a new expo in India.

LOS ANGELES — At the Kingpins textile show, denim designers benefited from heightened innovation among competitive textile mills that aimed to hit a variety of trends for fall 2012, including supreme softness, novel blends, colored denim and stretchy but strong fabric that has better recovery.

This story first appeared in the August 3, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Held July 26 and 27 at a studio in an industrial corner of downtown Los Angeles, the semiannual expo gathered 28 mills and factories, which vied to build business with attendees such as Adriano Goldschmied, Juicy Couture founders Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Taylor-Nash, and designers from J Brand, Bebe and other Southern California contemporary sportswear and premium denim brands.

Cotton prices remained a major topic of discussion, although the outlook isn’t as dire as it was a year ago, when prices stood at more than double the current rate of about $1.20 a pound. José Otávio de Souza, export manager for Brazil’s Vicunha Textil, predicted manufacturers will never return to the prices before the beginning of the cotton supply crisis in August 2009, when the average cost was 65 to 70 cents a pound.

Demand for novel blends was high. Vicunha Textil coated denim in resin to make it resemble leather and rubber at a cost of $7 to $8 a yard. Ali Fatourechi, creative director of Los Angeles’ Genetic Denim, was drawn to fabrics mixed with soy, paper and milk, as well as denim fleece, which could form the base of a tracksuit.

“I like how the mills are trying to push the envelope with different blends,” Fatourechi said.

Taiwan’s A&A Textiles made a bold push in novelty with velvet-flocked denim, double-faced cotton-acrylic jacquard and double-faced rigid cotton denim that’s woven to be blue on one side and a different color on the other. Prices range from $5 to $10 a yard.

Goldschmied, executive vice president of product development at Citizens of Humanity and founder of GoldSign, said, “It’s all about the blended fabrics.…The silhouette is changing to wider bodies so we need fabrics that are not too stiff.”

Taiwan’s Full Blossom answered the call with a textured cotton-Modal blend dyed bright red for $7 to $8 a yard. Guangdong Qianjin Jeans Co. from China offered a lightweight cotton and Lyocell blend, which also had been dyed in vivid hues.

Appealing to fans of stretchy fabric, several exhibitors offered new developments that would improve the strength and recovery of the pliant textile so it won’t deteriorate during distressing treatments or lose its shape after repetitive wearing.

“Stretch and recovery is a big conversation for us,” said Paul Cavazos, a representative for China’s Z by Zhonghe, offering stretch twill with a peached finish that enhances softness and sells for less than $4 a yard. “[Designers are] tailoring pants much closer to the body now.”

Invista showed its newest stretch fiber called Lycra DualFX, which is made by wrapping Lycra with the T-400 fiber and then core-spinning cotton around it. Priced at a 15 percent premium over regular Lycra spandex, the new fiber combines the T-400’s recovery with Lycra’s stretch. Central Fabrics, Artistic Milliners, Guangdong Qianjin Jeans Co. and Kurabo are among the mills offering fabrics integrating Lycra DualFX for next fall.

“It’s no longer acceptable to have one level of stretch,” said Jean Hegedus, a global marketing director at Invista. “Everybody is looking for a range.”

Kurabo’s version incorporating Lycra DualFX is named S-Cube, which features two-way stretch, weighs about 9 ounces and costs $6 a yard.

For customers who want stretch at a lower price, H.W. from Hong Kong offered a cotton and polyester weft that is intimately blended to offer both softness and strength at $3.80 to $4 a yard.

In an appeal to designers’ increasing consciousness of eco-friendly practices, American Denimatrix promoted the laser treatment done at its Guatemalan factory. Costs start at $12 for a basic pair of jeans and run up to $25 for a style made of premium fabric distressed with laser and repaired with patches.