NEW YORK — Designers should focus on creating standout items in their collections for spring 2004, rather than trying to chase trends or push the overall image of a brand. This was the advice from international trend consultant Sandy MacLennan at Tencel’s Global Fabric Fair last week.

The trend sessions took place at Tencel’s New York headquarters Tuesday through Friday and featured a presentation illustrating MacLennan’s research about color, texture and styling for the spring season. The lecture was titled "Function and Beauty: It’s all in the Detail."

MacLennan urged designers to create detail-oriented clothes that engage consumers or make them see garments in new ways. In short, sell the item, not the brand, he said.

MacLennan drove this point home by citing a recent window display at the London department store Selfridges & Co. that featured bright-colored garments with interesting patterns. Instead of grouping several garments together in the windows, Selfridges chose a few standout items. On the wall behind the mannequins with the garments, the patterns were blown up and fixed to the walls like wallpaper to highlight what the store found so unique.

Other themes MacLennan advised designers to keep in mind include fabrics that are deluxe in appearance but used in casual, loose-fitting garments; wrapping effects for blouses and dresses, and very lightweight fabrics such as cotton voiles.

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