By  on August 18, 2009

LOS ANGELES — Legging jeans and vintage styles topped the list of fall trends for premium denim designers who scouted the Kingpins textile show for the newest stretch materials and durable fabrics.

The West Coast edition of Kingpins, which ran here Aug. 11 and 12, featured fall offerings from 20 exhibitors, ranging from mills and laundries to trim suppliers and factories in Turkey and China. Among the attendees were GoldSign founder and denim industry icon Adriano Goldschmied, Seven For All Mankind creative director Tim Kaeding, Vintage Laundry’s Alex Caugant, Agave chief executive officer and designer Jeff Shafer, Genetic Denim creative director Ali Fatourechi, Oligo Tissew founder Christopher Enuke, and designers from Levi’s, Tommy Bahama and BCBG Max Azria Group.

While price remained a priority, attendees and exhibitors said business has been improving over the past six months. Underscoring the vibrancy of the denim market, Kingpins will host its first show in Hong Kong on Oct. 7 and 8.

“There’s definitely a renewed energy and excitement in the marketplace,” said Agave’s Shafer.

However, attendees acknowledged the challenge of appealing to consumers who have grown accustomed to receiving incentives to buy, whether it’s the U.S. government’s Cash for Clunkers auto program or discounts at stores.

“The consumer is quite spoiled right now,” Shafer said. “Price is a major issue.”

Vendors appeared willing to do as much as they can to help designers stay on budget.

Turkish manufacturer Denim Village said although its prices sit between its competitors in Italy and China, it can produce vintage-inspired looks with 3-D whiskers, pigment spots and cotton and leather patches. China’s Zhonghe Marketing Co. Ltd. sought to attract customers as a one-stop shop, which can spin cotton and blends mixed with Tencel or wool, dye the material and sew the garments. Japan’s Amhot International Inc. said it can produce its yarn-dyed cotton and other fabrics in China, where costs would be half as much as in Japan.

Novelty fabrics and treatments continued to get attention with the pressure to entice consumers to spend greater than ever. Greensboro, N.C.-based Burlington Solutions offered twill weighing as little as seven oz. that it garment-dyed to evoke a tree bark pattern. Cone Denim, Burlington Solution’s sister brand, also answered customers’ quests for newness with a seven-oz. stretch denim, 10-oz. rigid fabric and new dyes such as cornflower blue and mauve that tinted denim with a black fill for a more robust effect.

Japan’s Kurabo Denim responded to requests for lighter, softer denim by introducing new spinning technology, which produces cotton yarn that has a hollow center and is 20 percent lighter. The “Spinair” denim costs $9.80 a yard.

Legging jeans are moving to replace skinny styles as an increasing number of designers look for superstretchy denim beyond the 2 percent Lycra spandex that is the norm.

“They used to be into the comfort stretch,” said George Hayos, head of commercial sales for Spanish textile supplier Tavex. “Now they’re into the body-fitting stretch for leggings.”

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