NEW YORK — Diversification was a key theme among vendors at last week’s Yarn Fair International, with executives explaining that they’re trying to expand their product offering beyond the sweater-and-sock trade, which had been the core of the show.But the changes at the three-day show, which wrapped up at the Metropolitan Pavilion in here on Wednesday, were not limited to vendors’ assortments. More than half of this year’s exhibitors were first-time participants — making for a pronounced increase in the number of foreign yarn spinners and fibermakers participating. While U.S. firms represented the plurality of exhibitors, 32 percent of the total, other exhibitors hailed from nations including Italy, Spain, Canada, the U.K., China, Japan and Mauritius.Several vendors who specialize in apparel said home furnishings is a market they would like to enter and brought examples of yarns that could be used in both knit apparel and upholstery.At Kennett Square, Penn.-based Kennetex, which specializes in nylon and polyester yarns, director of sales and marketing Amy Seiler said attendees looked to her yarns with high luster for end-use in apparel and home furnishings. Microfiber chenille yarns were also targeted by would-be clients for various end-use products, Seiler said.The company also touted its new line of Kennetex Express Yarns — an array of $1.88-a-pound polyester-olefin yarns that can be shipped within 24 hours.Eric Nichols, director of sales at Montreal-based CNS Yarns, said the company’s tricolor acrylic-nylon yarn — dubbed "Ménage-à-trois by Nichols" — garnered the most attention. He also said he expected bouclés and acrylic-acetate blends to be strong for fall 2003.Victoria’s Secret’s Paola Monje said she was looking for tape yarns in different blends at the fair. Monje, a production coordinator for sweaters at the retailer, said she was interested in yarns that caught her attention the moment she saw them. Flat ribbon yarns as well as natural fibers, such as silk and mohair, mixed with synthetics were also an interest for Monje."I’m also looking at novelty yarns such as bouclés and morels," said Monje. "I’m always inspired by colors, and my eye is going to pastels."Fancy yarns were also a popular interest at Loyal Light International, a Guang Zhou, China-based company, in its sixth year of exhibiting at the Yarn Fair. Loyal Light specializes in acrylic yarns priced at $4 a pound and under."Chunky gages are popular," said Joanna Lee, managing assistant. "We’re seeing a lot of interest with acrylic-spandex blends and acrylic-mohair blends."For customers who were interested in full garment packages, Lee said Loyal Light has partnerships with apparel manufacturing plants in China.The strongest trend at this year’s Yarn Fair was multicolored yarns. Many exhibitors showed them in a variety of constructions, including bouclé, tweed and chenille. At Grignasco, Italy-based spinner Grignasco Group, export sales manager Andrea Rossi said that multicolored looks will be essential for fall 2003, citing that the mixing of color gives a three-dimensional, textured effect. One example Rossi pointed out was a lofty beige wool yarn, accented with flecks of color throughout.At Prato, Italy-based Overfil SpA, soft and lightweight chunky looks were key, according to export manager Sissi Giulivi. The company emphasized texture in yarns, including slubbed varieties. Color was also important."The general trend lately is to go simple," Giulivi said. "But we want to offer very distinct novelties to give our customers something new."Vaiano, Italy-based Pratofilati Srl, meanwhile, featured a selection of rougher bouclé yarns with a multicolored effect that included mixtures of yellow, red, orange, brown and wine."People are not really looking for solids," said Jen Doyle Fischer, yarn sales representative at Fall River, Mass.-based Nortex Yarns. "Anything multicolored is key." Fischer said Fireworks — Nortex’s new space-dyed bouclé yarn in acrylic and polyester — caught the attention of show attendees.Space-dyed yarns were also on view at Wattrelos, France-based Groupe Saint Lievin. Sales director Alain Vandenabeele highlighted multicolored yarns with fluffy and hairy qualities that lend a graphic feel.Peter Sagal, president of Paterson, N.J.-based Silk City Fibers, said he saw an increased interest in multicolored, textured yarns at the fair. Sagal said Silk City has moved away from shiny looks, offering matte rayon yarns in a variety of colors."These styles have been surprisingly strong," Sagal said. "I think buyers are liking the smoother hand and the better drape that matte yarn offers."

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