By and  on September 25, 2007

PARIS — Sophisticated fabrics and eco-friendly fibers at bargain prices drove buyers to Texworld, which marked its 10th anniversary in the Parisian suburb of Le Bourget last week.

With many budgets flat and maximum increases of 15 percent, price was often the key issue for buyers. Shopping for wools and cottons from Turkish and Chinese mills for spring-summer and fall-winter, Topshop buyer Jenny Garcia said the chain would continue to buy coated fabrics.

"We'll carry fabrics with foil-coating and PVC coating into next season," she said.

Buyers lauded increasingly stylish textiles from Chinese suppliers.

"We just came from a Chinese stand showing 100 percent beautiful wool fabrics using angora, just beautiful," said Elise Piene-Halpin, senior designer at Stiletto, a Topshop supplier. "You can get quite a sophisticated product in the Far East. They're catching up on wool."

The show's new Hall 3, which showcased full-package and ready-to-wear from China, got lots of attention.

Shanghai Frank Fashion, showing in that location and at Texworld for the first time, picked up 20 new customers, including Mango, for its silk prints.

"You can find the latest fashions with them as well now, but at the best price," said Lynn Cantin, buyer for Montreal-based Possibilities Trading Corp.

Some buyers were critical of the show's overall offer.

"[Texworld] is very focused on ready-to-wear, all the lingerie side has been forgotten," said Carole Boulingez, head of products at French lingerie brand Spatz.

"Far Eastern manufacturers haven't really moved on in the past few years," added Amy Greenwood, buyer for Design House in London.

But buyers lauded advanced weaving techniques at Turkish suppliers.

"Turkish weavers are offering more interesting fabrics at lower prices, such as woven checks, although some can be scratchy and need to be refined," Greenwood said.

Edun's Michelle Grear, who was meeting a supplier from Africa, said, "We would love to see more African representation at the show. It's important for the world to see what beautiful printing capabilities and naturals and organics they have."

Competition is growing for eco-friendly fabrics at low prices, as Asian mills bulk up their organic cotton, bamboo, ramie and hemp selections and adopt more environmentally friendly manufacturing processes, buyers noted."There are factories improving their entire supply chains, from the treatments to the types of dyes used,' said Catherine Moranval-Vincent, textile product engineer for French sport chain Decathalon's private label outdoor brand Quechua.

"They're taking a global ecological approach," she added, citing India's Nahar Textiles as an example.

Pakistani mill ADM, said its organic cotton denim was a bestseller.

Price, as is often the case with buyers at Texworld, remained paramount for brands looking to go green.

"My clients are requesting more eco-friendly fabrics, but they want them at low prices," said Jacqui Kerr, senior account manager for Associated Clothing Co.

Anita Yeh, sales representative of Taiwan-based New Heaven Enterprise, said, "We have more clients interested in organic cotton, but they're still put off by prices."

Climate change, namely bad summer weather, impacted spending.

"Retailers are stuck with a lot of stock after the summer so they're being a bit careful with spending," said a spokesman for London-based Low Profile Fashions.

Many exhibitors bemoaned slow sales. Richard Samuels, of U.S. lace specialist Malibu said business was not as good as last year.

The weak dollar continued to impact U.S buyers.

"It gets harder and harder," said Melanie Nice, product development manager for New York-based Natori Co. "Fabric costs can change three or four times before we place an order. That's why we're in Texworld."

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