By  on April 19, 2005

LOS ANGELES — A focus on high-end fabrics for the contemporary market kept booths busy at this month’s Los Angeles Textile Show.

Buyers were on the lookout for textiles to accentuate high-end apparel lines, from metallic, rich fabrics such as textured jacquards to fresh styles of denim with stripes and pigment coatings.

Designer Rami Kashou, who normally creates elaborate, body-skimming looks in somber colors, said he had picked up some silk chiffon and georgette prints at the show.

“It’s a big departure for me, but color is where the market and mood is headed,” he said.

While Kashou was ready to buy, the designers behind EmilyNoelle, a contemporary line launching for fall, said they were “browsing for inspiration.”

“The Italian fabrics were amazing — there were probably 100 things we could buy,” said Emily Kersman, co-owner of the line. Still, “at $40 a meter, it’s out of our price range,’’ she said. “But you never know.”

The European firms that made up about 10 percent of exhibitors were swimming against the current economically, with the comparative strength of the euro against the dollar marking up their wares. On Monday, a dollar bought 77 euro cents, down from 83 euro cents a year earlier.

Still, several European executives said they were overcoming the price pressures.

“California is starting to feel like it needs better fabrics,” said Diane Hayon, U.S. sales rep for the Italian company Ritmotex. “Price isn’t as big of an issue as it was in the past.”

The firm showed denim finished with gold and metal-coated stretch cotton fabrics with beachy stripes.

Carlo Bonomi, a mill near Milan, made its first appearance at the show, hoping to woo shoppers with its prewashed fabrics in corduroy and stretch cottons geared for garment-dying, as well as striped cotton and linen blends.

“We figure, if you have a good product, people will pay for it,” said sales rep Fabio Pariani.

The company met with designers such as William Beranak, who was looking for high-end textured fabrics in muted colors and linens for his year-old Nickel jacket line. The designer shut down his other contemporary line, Deb-el-yu, last October.French firm Sprintex showed skirt prints made as semicircles to ensure the downward flowing pattern. Its fall lineup included large-format scenic prints in spice tones.

Baroque and African-styled mesh-beaded appliqués were popular with designers at Claudia Magness & Associates. John Malone Textiles carried braided trims, bright-colored laces and beaded appliqués. Malone said one benefit of those extra touches is the rising price point on clothing, another incentive for contemporary lines to keep heaping on the embellishments.

California’s explosive contemporary market also lured back lace house Klauber Bros., which hadn’t attended the show in about seven years. In its sixth generation, the family-run mill in New England was finding designers interested in its allover Chantilly and Cluny laces with a crocheted effect, both geared to dresses and tops.

Toray Ultrasuede America showed products from Ultrasuede flip-flops to purses, as well as new metallic-coated fabrics, those with crinkle effects and laminated styles.

“We’re seeing people in the apparel and accessories industries, those specializing in Western gear and also designer consultants,” said Wendy Medina, marketing manager.

Other fabric vendors at the show said they’d boosted business by expanding into offering full-package garment production services.

Robert Kaufman Co. had boosted its offering of cotton fabrics in conversational prints, stripes, retro prints and romantic florals by adding full-package business under the name Arkayic Clothing. “It’s become a business we don’t have to pursue,” said sales representative Ron Kaufman. “It’s coming to us.”

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