By  on September 25, 2008

LOS ANGELES — Southern California jeans manufacturers shopping the Kingpins trade show turned their attention from dark, clean styles to more novel treatments mimicking leather and plastic, along with distressed dungarees and colored jeans with bright trimmings.

Designers from brands such as Brown Label, Guess, Seven For All Mankind, True Religion, Monarchy, Kasil and Agave scouted the show at Marvimon House here on Sept. 10 and 11 for materials to build their fall 2009 collections. Alexandre Caugant, the Vernon, Calif.-based designer of sportswear label AC Collection and denim line AC Jeans, ordered vintage-style fabric from Japanese mill Kurabo for a new line dubbed Alex’s Jeans, marked by tears and aged washes.

Among the 13 exhibitors at Kingpins, Argentina’s Apholos unveiled a two-tone enamel trim that can be finished in neon, metallic or iridescent hues. Rainbow Textiles Ltd., Kurabo’s corduroy division, offered warp slub cords and cotton-and-polyester cords for designers preferring vintage looks, in addition to a cotton-and-rayon corduroy that glistened with a luxurious shine.

To expand designers’ options for fabrics, Cone Denim, Tejidos Royo and UCO-Raymond exhibited for the first time. Novelty was emphasized in the Tejidos Royo offering that included a foam finish that imparts multidimensional coloring on whiskers, Tencel that can be tinted in a rainbow of colors, piece-dyed stretch sateen resembling leather and a cotton and Lycra spandex denim that resembles black plastic.

“Basic is finished,” said José Royo, sales director for the Spanish company. “Basic is denim in China. You have to do something different.”

Differentiation for A2 Asdrubal JA SA, a factory based in Portugal, involved promoting its ability to manufacture eco-friendly fashions using organic cotton, linen and Merino wool.

“We are trying to get new customers,” said representative Maria João Oliveira, noting that the U.S. represents one-quarter of A2’s business.

Cone Denim used black or gray fill, instead of white, in its fabric in a bid to appeal to designers who prefer denim to look and feel like something else. The Greensboro, N.C.-based company said designers also gravitated toward lighter fabrics, such as its S gene, which is made of two yarn components spun together and weighs as little as eight ounces a square yard.

At Belgium’s UCO-Raymond Ltd., new offerings included pima cotton and two stretch fabrics, XFit, made with Invista’s T-400, and Dow’s XLA, which features a warped stretch. Operating a mill called Union Cotonniere in Rockingham, N.C., UCO-Raymond said it is beginning to notice a resurgence in its domestic business as American designers contend with a high euro, rising expenses in Asia and hefty shipping and landing fees for foreign-made fabrics.

“They’re yearning for U.S. fabrics to be right,” said Carrie Eddmenson, a consultant for UCO-Raymond.

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