CREDITORS HIT MALDEN PLAN: Officials of bankrupt Malden Mills Industries Inc. said they were in talks with creditors after the company’s official creditors committee issued a court filing that called the Lawrence, Mass.-based mill’s reorganization filings "incomplete, internally inconsistent and occasionally incomprehensible."

The reorganization plan called for the company to pay its creditors in full over a 10-year period, an unusual step that would allow ownership of the company to remain in the hands of chairman Aaron Feuerstein and his family. The creditors in their filing at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the western division of Massachusetts claimed Malden showed insufficient evidence to explain how its annual sales would grow by $80 million in the coming decade. Last year’s sales came in short of the $190 million mark the company had been shooting for.

"This is a natural part of the process of emerging from Chapter 11," Malden business manager David Costello said. "We filed our plan and this is the time they filed their concerns. We’re working with the creditors to answer their concerns and fill in any questions they might have."

Costello said Malden has not yet decided whether it would revise its 10-year performance projections as a result of the creditors’ complaints.

Costello also acknowledged that Malden has formed a joint venture called Shanghai Challenge Textiles to make fabric in China.

"That is an effort for us to recapture the market in Asia," he said. "We used to do a fair amount of business in Japan and the Far East. We were making and shipping fabrics from Lawrence, and that has eroded."

Costello said the initial goal of the venture would be to sell fabrics for garments intended to be sold to Far Eastern consumers. He acknowledged that "down the road" the company could also use a Chinese factory to sell fabrics for garments manufactured in Asia and shipped to U.S. retailers.

THE COLOR OF FASHION: Color is often the first thing a designer thinks of when developing a collection. With this in mind, Pantone has developed 175 new shades. "Our challenge was to add colors that were necessary to our customers’ businesses," offered Lisa Herbert, executive vice president. The shades focus on three groups: neutrals, with colors such as Woodrose and Sphinx; midtones that include a range of blues such as Cosmic Sky, and muted darks. As part of the introduction, a group of designers were commissioned to sketch ideas for the 2003 spring season using some of the new colors. Alice Roi chose Wasabi and Ponderosa Pine for her sketch because she "wanted to use a strong color, but not an overbearingly bright one. David Rodriguez, meanwhile, chose Vista Blue because it reminded him of being on vacation. "I was inspired by my trip to Hawaii. The color of the water and reefs was totally tranquil and pure paradise — Vista Blue captured that shade perfectly," he said. "Our customers respond to color all the time."

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