NEW YORK--The Yarn Fair International/CAD Expo got off to a fast start here Tuesday, with fancy surface effects, shimmer and hair yarns grabbing the spotlight. The opening-day attendance hit an estimated 2,800, compared with 2,300 a year ago, according to a spokesman for the National Knitwear & Sportswear Association, the show sponsor. The three-day show runs through Thursday at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers, 52nd Street and Seventh Avenue, with 180 exhibitors showcasing yarns primarily for fall 1995 sweaters, other knitwear and woven apparel. The spinners are from the U.S. and Europe and include a group of eight from Germany showing for the first time. The CAD segment of the show features 35 exhibitors. Yarn exhibitors were generally upbeat about business. But mills from Europe and even some domestic ones expressed concern about the soft dollar and the rising prices of fibers. The audience for the opening ranged from fabric manufacturers to retailers. Among the first-day visitors was Chuck Milber, president of the Womenswear division of The Worcester Co., a worsted mill based here, accompanied by his designer-stylist, Tracy Ashby. "We're looking for new surface-interest yarns for our spring '96 season. As a worsted mill, we have to be new and different from what the converters are doing," said Milber. Kathy Carton, buyer of women's tops for Haband, the mail order house based in Prospect Park, N.J., said she hadn't shopped the yarn show in a couple of years. "It looks good," said Carton. "I'm looking for new suppliers for finished garments, and everybody was helpful. I got a lot of names." Barbara Hodes, design consultant for SA firms, said she saw a lot of fuzzy yarns that she liked. "The angora tweed at Marin and the sparkling teddy-bear yarn from Filati Be Mi Va are delicious. I'll be buying yarns here. I come to the show to get an overview." Among exhibitors, Jerry Kaplan, sales director of Amicale Industries, here, reported, "There's a lot of interest in natural fibers like wool, cashmere and angora." Also catching buyer interest, he said, was a spiral novelty yarn of virgin wool and nylon called Fusilli, which produces a chenille-bouclé effect after the fabric is knitted and washed. Kaplan noted that prices of all types of wools have gone up anywhere from 5 to 50 percent because of increased demand. This can be a problem for the consumer purchasing wool apparel, he said. "That customer can only pay so much. But with luxury fiber garments like cashmere and camel hair, the garments sell themselves. It's not a problem." At British Mohair Spinners Ltd., Bradford, England, Philip Bird, sales executive, said mohair is in short supply because of high demand, and this has pushed the firm's prices up. "We eventually have to pass the cost on to the customers," he said. "The raw material price of mohair has risen nearly 100 percent in the past year." Bird said if the dollar stays at the present exchange rate of $1.53 to $1.55 to the British pound, "it's comfortable for us, but if the dollar gets weaker, it will create a problem." A new product getting a good reaction at the show was Celtic, a color-injected wool yarn that creates a variegated or space-dye effect, Bird said. At Claridge Mills Ltd., Selkirk, Scotland, a carded yarn specialist in natural fibers such as wool, silk and cashmere, David Aimers, managing director, said that with the soft dollar, prices of yarns would increase from 5 to 10 percent for U.S. customers. "We've been faced with raw material price increases on cotton, wool and silk," he added. "Silk has become scarce because of lack of supplies coming from China. Crop yields have been down from last year." Maintaining price increases is "going to be tough," he said. "In some cases, we're absorbing price if the customer has good potential for volume business." Among Claridge's show offerings, the firm reported good response to Ailsa, a lambswool and cotton two-ply yarn, and Alexis, a superfine merino lambswool tweed yarn that comes in grays, parchment and darks like forest green, chocolate brown and navy. Drawing attention at New York-based National Spinning Co. was Rayella, an intimate blend marl yarn of rayon and acrylic. "Our customers are extremely interested in it because it offers a linen look, and they like the fact that it is a blended product," said Steven Feder, vice president, sales division. Blended products are getting a play because of the versatility they offer in dyeing, he said; they can be dyed for a solid effect or to create heathers and marls. Lion Brand Yarn Co., here, which ordinarily sells yarns to mass merchandisers for handknitting at home, was enjoying the exposure to mills and other buyers it was getting at the show. "This show is excellent because we're seeing people we've never seen, from all over the world, who are not familiar with our line of yarns," said David Blumenthal, senior vice president. Getting play at the company's exhibit, he said, were an acrylic, wool and rayon tweed-look yarn called Wool-Ease and an acrylic metallic chenille yarn dubbed Chenille Sensation.
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