PARIS — Exhibitors at last week’s Texworld show said they did a steady business, though they acknowledged the uncertain economies of many nations have left buyers cautious.

The show ran concurrently with the upmarket Première Vision show, where the bulk of exhibitors are high-end European mills. Held from Sept. 18-21 at the CNIT complex at La Defense, the business district on the western outskirts of Paris, the fair featured mills from China, South Korea, India, Turkey and Brazil that showed fall-winter 2003-2004 fabrics to large-volume buyers.

"There’s still uneasiness out there," said Kuyong Kim, director of South Korean mill Sunmoon Corp. "At this stage of the game, we are even with last year. But it’s still not a gung-ho market. People are cautious because it’s hard to judge how the market will turn."

Bong Sil Cheon, assistant manager at South Korea’s Asia Textile firm, said, "The season’s not so good compared to last year. Our main market is Germany, and it’s very tough in Germany right now. Our customers in the U.S., on the other hand, are starting to voice more optimism. That leads us to believe that business may start to improve."

For their part, buyers said they would modestly increase their budgets for next fall.

"We’re quite confident," said Paula McCabe, soft dressing buyer at U.K. retailer Dorothy Perkins. McCabe, interviewed while perusing the wares at Silk Appeal, an Indian firm specializing in embroidered silks, added that she had her radar out for "fabrics with an Oriental or African feel. I like cultural themes for next fall. Green, orange and khaki — more earthy, spicy colors — will be important for us."

Jaleh Farhad Poor, director of buying at Tradex, a Canadian manufacturer of women’s and children’s ready-to-wear, cited denim and fake fur as "musts for next winter." She said Tradex would increase its budget for next winter by 10 to 15 percent.

Sylma Cabrere, creative director at Cobie, a Miami Beach-based women’s wear design studio, pointed to denim as important: "There are a lot of great new washes in denim, including gray and vintage washes." She added that patchwork and flocking would be strong for next fall.Stephanie Keukert, the fair’s managing director, said 608 exhibitors participated, 50 more than last session, adding that 17,207 buyers visited the fair, up 24 percent compared with the September 2001 fair.

The Texworld show in recent years has carved out a niche alongside its larger and tonier rival. Buyers at the fair, acquired this year by Germany’s Messe Frankfurt organization, contended that they shopped both of the fairs in search of the best deals.

"PV is good for those special items that you won’t find any place else," said Cobie’s Cabrere. "For all of the practical, everyday things, we find more here."

Joseph Nassir, vice president of Elotex International Inc., a Los Angeles women’s wear manufacturer, said Texworld has evolved into a must-see fair in Paris.

"Not every firm is a luxury firm," he said. "For us, dealing with the U.S. market, we find this fair more useful. The U.S. market is very price conscious, more than in Europe. And the European mills [at PV] have products with very high price tags. The prices are a lot lower when you work with a mill from the Far East."

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