NEW YORK — Though it’s still a little early for fall 2004 orders, executives at Asian mills exhibiting at last week’s Innovation Asia fabric show said they expect trends toward softer, lighter-weight textiles to be key for fabrics this season.

They also expect lighter-weight denim to be popular. Several designers said it’s increasingly important to take into account warmer-weather climates since they make up such a large part of the U.S. and the popularity of year-round, versatile clothing there is so relevant.

That was the talk at Innovation Asia, a trade show last week organized by Acordis Cellulosic Fibers featuring the Tencel lyocell division, July 15-17 at the restaurant, Amuse, in Manhattan.

Fabric directors and designers browsed, touched, ordered headers and if they were organized enough, ordered sample yardage. Most said apparel firms were still in the early stages of collection design.

“I always find innovative fabrics here,” said Bisou Bisou president and designer Michele Bohbot. “I’m looking for jacquards, tweeds and soft and feminine fabrics.”

For fall, loungewear and lingerie will be added to the line, so Bohbot said she was looking for fabrics that would work for those categories.

At Taipei, Taiwan-based Be Mode Textile Co., novelty denims made of cotton and Tencel lyocell blends were actually jacquards in geometric patterns and stripes and they stood out among the more basic twill fabrics. The firm exhibited about half of each of its spring 2004 and fall 2004 fabric lines.

Several vertical mills from India exhibited on the lower floor of the restaurant — Innovation Asia occupied three rooms on two floors — and offered full-package men’s and women’s garment production.

China Silk was one of the few mills to offer a blend of Tencel lyocell and silk, said Sun Zhong Hua, president of the Wujiang City, China-based mill. While it featured a very soft hand, it was several dollars more expensive per yard than the more typical Tencel-cotton blend.

Carmine Langone, a textile consultant for contemporary brand Sharagano, said there was a lot of new print direction influenced by Art Deco styles of the 1920s. He also said colored denim — subtle color, not vibrant color blocking — was also a noteworthy trend.

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