By  on June 14, 1994

NEW YORK -- The starring role that mohair took in the fall designer collections here is paying off for suppliers of the fabric. They report bookings for the fluffy fabrics are racking up gains of up to 70 percent over a year ago.

Apparel makers are ordering plaids, solids and novelty weaves, with knits also attracting a lot of attention, including open-work reversible heather sweater knits, according to the fabric houses. Most of the action is said to be in blends of mohair with wool, because of the lower cost.

Mohair was shown on the runways in such looks as cropped suits, sweaters, dresses and coats, and now the usage is spreading into other items, including a variety of separates.

"A lot of apparel manufacturers, from the traditional coat maker, who produces for catalogs, to smaller designers, who sell to Bendel's, Charivari Ltd. and other specialty stores, are buying mohair," said Ivan Moradoff, president of Franetta Fabrics here, a producer of luxury fabrics. Moradoff said manufacturers who haven't used mohair before are now using it for a variety of items, including skirts, pants, dresses and capes. "As a novelty fabric, it has a lot of character and is very appealing at this point," Moradoff said. "Our solid mohairs and the novelty plaids are both very strong now."

At Dick & Goldschmidt, a sales agent here, the Lindsay Tartan mohair and wool plaid in red, green and black from Samuel Tweed, Huddersfield, England, is one of the bestsellers, according to Henry Greisman, president. "It's a traditional tartan that sells well every year, but this season we sold more of it and sold quite a number of SA designers in a variety of sizes of plaids," said Greisman, adding that colorful stripes are also popular looks for mohair. "We're so busy with mohair, it's unbelievable," he said. "My mohair business is up 70 percent from fall 1993."

Terrence Chermak, president of Britannica Mills Ltd., a knitter here, also noted the rise in mohair. "Last year, we didn't have any interest in mohair," he said. "Customers should order the fabric as early as possible because the yarn is difficult to get from spinners. They're so busy filling orders, and they shut down in August." Chermak said one of his firm's top sellers -- a new honeycomb openwork sweaterknit that reverses to a rib effect -- is 67 percent super kid mohair, 30 percent nylon and 3 percent merino wool. Colors are white, gray heather and steel blue.At Sonora Mohair, Sonora, Tex., Jim Cahill, owner and president, said the firm, which specializes in mohair blend fabrics such as mohair with wool and silk or mohair and wool, "is doing very well with blends."

"We are now getting a lot of requests for mohair blend fabrics, particularly an 11-ounce step-weave wool and mohair plaid in violet, black, magenta and caramel," Cahill said. "We've sold more than 10,000 yards." Cahill explained that mohair has been overlooked in the American market for 30 years.

"Mohair is often confused with wool," he said. "It has exceptionally different properties in that it has a silkier hand and produces a much lighter-weight garment.

Cahill said his firm, which started in 1985 and uses domestic mohair, offers about 200 patterns, including plaids, twills, solids and stripes as well as a lighter-weight suiting cloth in mohair, wool and silk.

"Mohair is probably nature's original wrinkle-free fiber," Cahill said. "It sheds wrinkles....The wrinkles drop out because it has high resilience." One of Sonora's customers, AK New York Collections, manufacturer of women's coats and sportswear here, is using mohair in solids and plaids. Akay Akshiraze, president, said he has ordered them in red, white, black and vicuna. The coats and sportswear are selling well, he said, because the fabric has a new finish.

"Sonora has taken [mohair] to a new level in that it's soft, silky, smoother and lightweight," Akshiraze said.

AK, he added, will also introduce accessories with mohair: throws, shawls, scarves and socks.

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