Byline: Kim-Van Dang

LOS ANGELES--Fill-in fabrics for late fall and holiday made for active sampling at the Los Angeles International Textile Show last week, but the lack of spring goods had buyers complaining.
The three-day show at the California Mart ended Wednesday, and reflecting a controversy over the best timing, this sixth edition of the show came only three months after the last one, held in January. Last week's show marked a decision to return to its original scheduling, which has stands in April and October, after the lackluster January event.
The closeness of the shows cut into the exhibitor roster; many of the member firms of the New York-based Textile Distributors Association, which had pushed for a January-August schedule, chose to sit last week's edition out. The show counted 275 exhibitors, against nearly 325 last April.
"It's awfully hard to please everybody," said Robert Berg, executive director of the Textile Association of Los Angeles, which, along with the Mart, sponsors the event. "There is not as much spring fabric here as some people would like to see. These are adjustments that exhibitors have to make. As we expected, some vendors here were red hot, and some were not."
Some TDA firms that did show reported they received favorable responses from buyers to their collections--which included some new spring goods intermingled with fall.
Symphony Fabrics and Horizon Textiles, two converters, along with Gordon Textiles International, which represents several upper-end European mills, all reported heavy sampling, especially with small to mid-size California firms. A handful of locally based major apparel manufacturers shopped the show as well, including Karen Kane, Carole Little, ABS, Chorus Line and Rialto.
While traffic lagged each morning of the shows, buyers kept the Mart's three exhibit areas--the Penthouse Pavilion, the A-wing of the Mezzanine and the Exhibit Hall--buzzing in the afternoons.
Michael Tipton, owner of Michael Alexander, a contemporary sportswear manufacturer in San Pedro, Calif., said he came to the show expecting "only to shake hands," but wound up walking away with sample yardage on order.
Shopping price points of $5 to $11 a yard, Tipton picked up elasticized embroidered velvet from Embroidertex West Ltd., knitted wide-wale corduroy from Impala Industries, a pin-wale corduroy from JL deBall, batik cotton from Bali Fabrications and some Italian yarn-dyed plaid cotton from various other resources.
Belinda Williams, buyer, and Alan del Rosario, designer for Judy Knapp, a junior firm here, sought fill-in fall and holiday fabrics at up to $9 a yard. Cross-dyes, satin and stretch lace in metallic and deep autumnal shades topped their shopping lists.
"We've already seen what's here two or three times," Williams said. "Nothing really jumped out at us."
Still, the two left paper for printed satin and chiffon fabrics from Symphony and de Marco California Fabrics.
Linnea Mielcark and Shalyn Kinney, merchandisers for Shorebreak, a San Diego-based manufacturer of licensed activewear including BUM Sport, Momentum--a swim and aerobicwear division of Russell Athletics--and Maui & Sons, said they found what they came to find--a healthy selection of nylon and textured fabrics in almost neon colors in the range of $2 to $5 a yard.
"The show seems quite slow, but that makes it easier to work," Kinney said.
Dreanna Bane, designer for Lucky Brand jeans, did not share the same outlook.
"I came here looking for new resources," she said. "There's not a lot here.
Overall, however, event organizers were pleased.
"We're almost 100 lines shy of past shows, but the market came out to support the event," said TALA president Dan Sassower, who is president of New West Textiles.
Ruth McKeown, the Mart's director of markets and trade shows, said she was pleased with the turnout, despite traffic being off from a year ago.
"We're back on track," McKeown said. "We had to evaluate what the industry needed by holding a show in January. We went out on a limb [in holding the April show], and I think we succeeded.
McKeown said. Nearly 5,500 buyers attended last week's show, down from about 6,000 from the previous April.
"You really have to look at the data from both of this year's shows when doing comparisons," she added, pointing out that buyer traffic in proportion to the number of exhibitors was up this time around.
The next edition is slated for Oct. 23-25.

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