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Trend Evolution For Spring ’03

LOS ANGELES — If the spring test orders placed several weeks ago are any indication, merchandisers will come to the Los Angeles International Textile Show hungry for immediate orders of fabrics with stripes, linen blends, stretch ripstop nylon...

LOS ANGELES — If the spring test orders placed several weeks ago are any indication, merchandisers will come to the Los Angeles International Textile Show hungry for immediate orders of fabrics with stripes, linen blends, stretch ripstop nylon and printed onionskin. Roughly 6,000 buyers, ranging from private-label merchandisers for major retailers to designers fresh out of art school, are expected to descend on the show.

The larger trend picture for this event, which runs Oct. 21-23 at the California Market Center here and where most exhibitors plan to show spring-summer 2003 fabrics, includes:

Peasant prints, moving away from specific national origin to a brighter, more childlike and universal, “folkloric” trend.

A utilitarian trend using canvases and stretch twills in workwear colors like khaki and olive.

Bleached, weathered, enzyme-washed or otherwise worn-in fabrics. It’s part of a continuing yen for garments that feel vintage or connected to personal history.

Asian prints, with a focus on soothing Japanese motifs such as watercolor landscapes, origami tracings and cherry blossoms.

The event is formally a showcase of fabrics intended for the fall 2003 retail season. But in recent years, as small apparel manufacturers have tried to finalize designs closer to the retail season, textile vendors have pushed up their market dates as well, so that many exhibitors will now be focusing on fabrics intended to be made into garments and delivered to stores by spring.

Providing welcome news to many suppliers, Promostyl’s West Coast and Hawaii director Darra Baker predicted the return of “situational dressing,” which swaps the go-anywhere, semicasual uniform for specific outfits for day, evening and business.

Steve Franklin, vice president of converter Acker & Jablow’s West Coast operations, said he has also seen renewed interest in “after 5 p.m.” fabrics, particularly hammered satin and rayon satin.

Sarah Smit, an independent rep for three European mills, said she believes the peasant mood will take a “Middle Eastern fusion feeling, sort of French Moroccan,” with a spiced-toned color palette.

At Los Angeles-based Chemtex Print, stylist Chris Royster has taken tropical prints in an ethnic direction, referencing batik prints and the swirling tribal motifs of Bali.

For customers looking for more traditional tropical prints, Royster will offer vintage Hawaiian prints in faded, washed-down colors: mango, cantaloupe and army green.

Interest in linen, which has long been the purview of misses’ manufacturers, has also skyrocketed, according to Ernest Vojdani, sales manager for Los Angeles-based Noveltex.

“It’s transcended into the junior market. They’ve seen it used in Europe and have started to inquire about it,” he said, adding that he’s fielded about 50 calls from junior producers. They have mostly been looking for blends of linen and cotton or rayon, which are about 30 percent cheaper than all-linen fabrics.