NEW YORK — For manufacturers and marketers of natural and synthetic fibers, one of the key challenges in 2004 will be how to manage their rising raw material costs at a time when deflationary pressures are continuing to squeeze margins throughout the apparel industry.

At most major fiber concerns, executives are working on ways of enhancing fibers’ performance, with the hope that new technologies will convince buyers — and ultimately consumers — that it’s worth paying a little more for added value.

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