NEW YORK — At Cotton Inc.’s most recent Apparel Color & Trend Forecast, Susan Shapiro, senior director of fashion marketing, focused on the importance of color for the spring 2004 season.

"There is a greater variety of color this season in lighter and medium tones, and less neutrals," she said. "Colors to look for are subtle pinks, earthy reds, terra-cotta and bronzed orange tones. Greens are important in subtle yellow to blue to gray shades. There are also lots of blues in indigo and purple casts."

Fabrics, meanwhile, feature a plethora of surface interests that "enhance and enrich color while adding dimension and depth," added Shapiro.

"Texture remains extremely important in denim, knits, corduroy and weaves," she said. "Prints have a retro feel in silk-screen effects, with geometric and architectural motifs."

The presentation highlighted five color groups and five fabric trends for the season. The color groups are: Wagashi World, Cityscape, Antiqued, Nature Diffused and Fairy Tech Tale.

Wagashi World is influenced by the "intricate traditional art forms of Japan," she noted. "The mood is lyrical and natural in pearlized tones that are not too intense or feminine." Shades include petal pink, crystallized peach, peony and pearl.

For Cityscape, colors that work well for the new corporate casual look are featured. Grays balance and neutralize the palette, while blue and smog tones bring new energy to basics. "Vegetable root colors in orange and red echo the hues of brick buildings," said Shapiro.

The Antiqued trend is more dignified, worldly and noble in feel with a heavy influence of yellowed greens. "Colors here are dusty and aged with an underlying softness and serenity. They’re the colors of Venice," she added. Dusty rose, washed blue, faded jade and scuffed wood tones give a new approach to this vintage category.

In Nature Diffused, neutrals are showcased with a twist. "The palette is refreshing with pastel colors toned down by gray. The tones exemplify yearning for spiritual union through nature," she said. Hues include ivory, sand, lilac, cloud blue, pale yellow and algae green.For Fairy Tech Tale, deep and dark brights that reflect the urban world and night life in the big city are featured. Dominating the palette are a selection of energetic blues, heavily weighted with "blurples," a combination of blue and purple. Balancing out the palette is a saturated wine color, a turquoise and an electric yellow.

Fabric trends that complement the color palette are: Denimology, Weekend Chic, Portable Pieces, Texture and Top Coat.

Denimology highlights new textures in denim, including treatments and constructions, that take it to a new and exciting fashion level. "Look for jacquards, pinstripes, chevron weaves and bouclé effects," said Shapiro. Tie-dye looks, as well as slub yarns, multiple overdyes, discharge prints and color washes are also important. "Also keep an eye out for the comeback of black denim," she added.

Weekend Chic is a bottomweight trend that includes intricate, dressed-up patterns such as dobbies, reps, khakis and slub yarns — "perfect for corporate-casual dressing," she said. City and military looks abound in khaki overdyes, reversible fabrics, laser cuts and blotch printing. Also important: relaxed island getaway stripes, twills and herringbones with a washed-down appearance.

Portable Pieces features knit fabrics with a light, airy feel. French loopy terries with space-dyed yarns, puckered stripes, pebble-like effects and discharge prints give an overall rough and rugged feel to this trend. "Mesh overlays, burnouts and square knits are also important — anything that is packable, portable and compressible," she added.

The Texture trend is about implied texture. Subtle tones create surface interest in yarn dyes, medium checked plaids and stripes, jacquards cut on the bias, ombré effects and seersuckers. "Here, lots of stripes, dobbies with Swiss dots, cotton-linen blends, high-twist yarns and mercerization in shirting fabrics all play a key role," offered Shapiro.

Top Coat is all about prints. "They provide lots of movement and reflect multiple influences," she added. Reminiscent of silk-screen-type prints, motifs such as spinning pinwheels, lines, dots, Eighties video games, geometric prints and Japanese shibori patterns are all prevalent. "Other inspirations come from Art Deco, calligraphy, pencil-like etchings and architecture," she concluded.

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