LOS ANGELES — Fashion designers and apparel manufacturers at the Los Angeles International Textile Show last week searched for textured textiles, organic fibers, alternatives to denim and fabrics that have a metallic shine or offer some stretch.
Exhibitors at the California Market Center emphasized better quality and a plush feel for their fall-winter 2007-2008 collections.
"For fall, it's all about comfort," said Dolley Levan, designer for women's contemporary brand Dolley in Los Angeles.
Levan strives to bring a sporty look to formal dresses by designing sweater dresses for evening, so she looked for fabrics in simpler solid colors with fewer prints and what she dubbed "woolly lace."
"I'm looking for things that have an organic kind of feel," Levan said.
Organic was also the key word for Bon & Ging's Nanette Sullano, who dropped by the booth of recycled cotton purveyor Green-Spun Textured Knits. Joe Pham, the former designer of Hot Kiss' contemporary label Jak & Rae, who plans to launch his own line called Nalina next fall, also was searching for organic cotton. Other designers who hit the three-day show included Kevan Hall, Juan Carlos Obando and representatives from Trina Turk, Michael Stars and Sanctuary.
Continuing the trend for gold and silver that sparkled in the recent spring runway shows, designers mined booths for more metals. Gold paillettes were popular at Los Angeles' Nandini Textiles and Accessories Inc., and bronze and toned-down metallic hues were preferred for lace, cords and other trim from Ribbtrim Inc., the U.S. distributor of Japan's Mokuba. Designers liked items that had a soft hand and subdued color, as well, said Karin Vitolo, a Los Angeles-based sales representative for Ribbtrim.
A weathered effect was what Obando had in mind for the next collection from his two-year-old namesake label. Preferring muted metals, he said he wanted paillettes in amber and bronze.
"The problem with a shiny metallic is it's beautiful, but it doesn't sell," said Obando, adding that he opted for something "more industrial than glitzy and shiny."
For designers who went for softer fabrics, velvet and silk chiffon were big at France's Soieries Chambutaires, owner Christophe Debard said. In addition, the exhibitor offered satin and taffeta in stretch."We have to do something special [such as adding stretch] to be different and to justify the price," said Debard, noting that his prices run from $8 to $25 a yard, with the most expensive being a silk chiffon dyed with an ombré effect in purple, orange and fuchsia.
Value-added products were also a focus for Carr Textile, a family-run company based in Fenton, Mo., that showed three new fabrics: a French twill made of combed cotton, a 4-oz. poplin made of a polyester and cotton blend with a stain repellent finish and an 8-oz. piqué knit that can wick moisture.
"What we're trying to do is come out with fabrics that have new benefits, whether it be wicking or stain-repellency," vice president Mike Carr said. "It's that extra feature that may make the difference in choosing that fabric."
Designers and manufacturers are becoming more price-conscious, said Jackie Cozzo, a sales agent for Grupo Textil, which represents Italy's Marco Lagattolla, for which the high euro is a concern. To entice more customers, Marco Lagattolla offered discounts on orders exceeding 35 meters, Cozzo said. While beaded embroidery makes up half of Marco Lagattolla's offerings, macramé, crochet and a silk stretch tulle in a honeycomb pattern were popular with attendees, she said.
Solstiss Inc.'s blend of copper and gold on lace caught attendees' eyes, said Sandrine Bernard, the New York-based executive vice president for the French label.
To boost business on the West Coast, which makes up a third of Solstiss' U.S. sales, Bernard said she plans to hire another sales representative in Los Angeles. Her current sales representative, John Marshall, said up-and-coming designers, including "Project Runway" winner and Cosa Nostra designer Jeffrey Sebelia, form the majority of his customers on the West Coast. In addition to accepting orders for as few as 5 yards, Solstiss also tries to attract customers with unique offerings, such as pleated lace that can be used in a skirt or trim on a shirt, Marshall said.
Raw Edge Inc. said business was brisk for its nondenim fabrics such as twill, canvas and sateen, which are all available in stretch and rigid. The Vernon, Calif.-based company has seen sales double in the last year, said president Jeff Johnson. Big sellers have been a sateen, stretch twill that can be garment-dyed and yarn with a slub character."A definite trend is getting away from blue [denim]," said Jim Lorber, Raw Edge's vice president of sales.
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