NEW YORK — DuPont recently outlined its fall-winter 2003-04 trend predictions for knitwear and yarn. While the focus for knits included a nostalgic, elegant feel as well as a combination between techy and traditional, yarn innovations touched on second skin and glass-like looks, among others.

Aimed at knitters, branded apparel marketers and retailers, the Knit Innovations seminar featured new knit concepts as well as a database of information that Jean Hegedus, knitwear segment manager at DuPont, said would help transform these ideas into commercially viable realities.

The first theme, Faded Chic, featured slightly faded, antique-looking knits that are "rooted in elegant interiors and refined living," said Sheila-Mary Carruthers, knitwear consultant for DuPont. "The look is interpreted in sumptuous textures and luxurious fabrics." Examples included metallic yarns mixed with rayon and spandex. "DuPont’s Tactel [nylon] metallics and Lycra [spandex] work great here," she added. Small graphic patterns, reminiscent of the Twenties and Thirties, were key. Also important were trimmings, including everything from feathers to lace.

The second grouping, New Crossbreeds, is a blend of high-tech and traditional. "This group is extremely contemporary and is inspired by both modern design and architecture," said Carruthers. "It combines traditional constructions with the best of high-tech developments." This category emphasizes innovations in stretch yarns that offer comfort stretch and recovery, as well as fabrics with easy-care properties, such as those treated with Teflon.

The third theme, Working Class Indigo, showed utilitarian looks with an updated feel. "Fabrics once associated with workwear — worn, abused, yet well-loved — are modernized in knits that capture the classic appearance of wovens," Carruthers said. "Denim continues as a strong source of inspiration."

The emphasis here was on double-faced performance fabrics and classic needle corduroys in high-performance yarns, as well as sturdy, random-patterned felted knits. Also key, noted Carruthers, were shots of iridescent sheen on denim.

The final theme for knits was Origins, a group inspired by folkloric themes. "Traditional handicraft ideas from Eastern Europe influences are modernized and personalized here to create knits that inspire creative, highly individual interpretation," she added.

Developmental knits in this category combined brushed and smooth yarns with decorative and embellished yarns. Other creative examples include the use of traditional trims, such as braids decorated with coins.The second seminar, for yarns, also included four themes: Second Skins, Glass, Sea Chenille and Encrusted.

Second Skins featured yarns that "enhance the wearer’s well being," Carruthers said. They integrate such performance features as moisture management, as well as resistance to static, microbes and fungus. Consequently, activewear exerts a strong influence here. The color range is based on cosmetic neutrals, including skin, peach, taupe, iris blue, nail pink and bone white.

The Glass theme, according to Carruthers, coincides with a revival in Scandinavian glassware of the Sixties and Seventies. "It’s as contemporary now as it was then," she said. Sleek, transparent, fluid and often translucent, these primarily rigid yarns add varying degrees of luster to colors such as vitreous green, enamel blue, silicon red, black and mirror gray. Yarns in this grouping included nylon metallic yarns blended with polyester cellophane, as well as naturally glossy silk, extrafine merino and spun worsted wools.

"The yarns are mostly rounded, corded and coated to give novel molten or reflective effects," she explained. "And slit-film yarns are used to produce a glassy sheen." The range, she added, is aimed at ultramodern circular knits, wovens and fine-gauge flat knits.

Sea Chenille is intended to evoke an aquatic feeling of floating, iridescent and deep-sea colors, with yarns that lend themselves to soft filigree, fringed chenille, refined plush and feathered fancy effects. The colors are deep and dark and include ocean blue, coral, iridescent purple and seaweed green. Stretch yarns, including Lycra, add life and movement to chenilles in this group with warp-knit ladder effects and fancy high twists designed for decorative wovens.

Encrusted was inspired by vaulted ceilings, ornate gilded furniture, stone arches and delicate porcelain. "This theme calls for yarns that enrich and add a lavish, decorative touch," Carruthers offered. Gilded ochre dominates the color range, which also included warm golds, rich rusts, alabaster white, stone gray and gothic pink.

Fabrics in this group include rustic linens and jute, which produce an aged, worn quality and blends of low-luster rayon and bright acrylics that are lofty looking, yet lightweight. Complex fancy yarns, such as exaggerated slubs, plaited yarns, loops, braided effects, cords and minute knots, she said, give an encrusted feeling to wovens and flat knits.

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