By and  on March 29, 1994

NEW YORK -- Bolstered by a record number of buyers, an expanding exhibitor roster and what many said was heavy sampling, the fifth edition of the International Fashion Fabric Exhibition got solid reviews from buyers and exhibitors.

The three-day event, which ended Thursday at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center here, featured 320 firms and drew more than 8,600 buyers and designers -- nearly 10 percent from outside the U.S., according to The Larkin Group, the show's sponsor.

Last October's event showcased 220 companies and drew slightly less than 8,000 buyers.

"We had a lot of traffic, and got a lot of new names from a mix of domestic and international firms, those being mainly from Canada and South America," said William F. X. Coffey Jr., director of international marketing at Greenwood Mills, a denim producer making its initial showing at IFFE. Coffey said items that sampled well included pigment yarn-dyed denims and fabrics of Tencel, both in solids and stripes.

Greenwood executives will decide within the next couple of months whether the company will return, "after seeing what kind of business we did," Coffey said.

Todd Levy, a sales representative for Texfi Blends, another IFFE first-timer, said the show gave Texfi an opportunity to meet with accounts it normally doesn't see, including those from South America, Canada and Asia.

Levy said Texfi's top attractions included Matrix, a group of polyester and rayon plaids, checks, houndstooths and stripes in shades of sage, blue and ivory.

Among exhibitors from overseas, Guido Bersano, an owner of Texilfibra, Fosano, Italy, said the company's wrinkle-resistant viscose, silk piece-dyes and yarn-dyes, shantungs and linen-like weaves in naturals and ethnic colors "all sampled well."

He did say, however, that his decision to return in October will be "based on additional sampling from potential clients."

At Libeco Inc., a linen fabric supplier that is the U.S. sales arm for the Belgian Libeco company, textured fabrics were doing well, especially open-weave linens and heavyweight structure linen plaids and stripes, according to Yadin Elcon, president.

Executives at Filtex International here, which represents a number of European fabric houses, said buyers were selecting antique paisley and floral border linen prints from the Austrian firm Josef Otten in brights and pastels, such as combinations of watermelon and green.Among other lines represented by Filtex, Weisbrod Zurrer, Switzerland, was seeing brisk sampling of matelasse in textural motifs and swirls. Garment-washed indigo stripes, jacquards and dobbies from Hammerle of Austria were doing well.

"Buyers were going for neutrals and printed piques in cotton and blends, and virtually anything with surface interest," said Melissa Niederman, a sales representative at Stylecrest Fabrics here.

At Exotic Silks, Mountain View, Calif., there was extensive sampling in new patterns of cut velvets, especially pastels for fall 1995 in dusty sage, cameo pink, silver blue and apricot, said Mary Carter, manager.

Apparel designers, manufacturers and retailers shopping the show had varied interests, from linens to Tencel.

Birgitte Brix, textile designer-consultant at Fabrix Unlimited here, which does sourcing for apparel manufacturers, was looking for topweight and suiting linens and washable linens at Baird McNutt, and said she was sampling some fabrics from the firm. She also sampled crepe and linen blend denim at Arno Salm Inc., and silk and linen blend fabrics at Springs Industries.

Brix termed the show "better than last March's show," with more suppliers and more updated fabrics.

Allan Mandel, in charge of merchandising and product development at Jamie Brooke Inc., a popular-price dress house here, was at Italtex SRL-Hanna Cohen, a forecast service predicting trends two years in advance.

"We're beyond ethnics and I want to see new trends," Mandel said. "Everything seems to be earthy with neutral grounds."

Chris Simpach, outside fabric coordinator for Pendleton, Portland, Ore., said she was interested in finding Tencel fabrics and new challis to coordinate with the firm's woolens.

Roxanne Kyzyk, assistant designer of Reference Point here, a manufacturer of junior tops and sweaters, said acetate and rayon blend knits appealed to her, most notably the ones she saw at Horizon Textiles -- a new IFFE exhibitor -- and Everitt Knitting.

"You get a good idea about direction here," Kyzyk said of the show.

Despite the active traffic, one exhibitor, Hsiu Chu Chen, assistant manager of King-Wei Fiber Co., Taipei, complained that the show was "unsuited for us because buyers want stock and small orders.""Our company produces minimums of 3,000 to 6,000 yards and many cannot buy these quantities," she said. King-Wei featured wovens, yarn-dyes, knits, prints and linens in such fibers as cotton, cotton and polyester blends, and polyester with linen. Bay Merchandise Corp., here, is its U.S. sales agent.

A little controversy marked the show when trend forecaster Lucey Harley, principal of Lucey Harley Associates, withdrew from the "Spring-Summer '95 Color Projections" seminars 24 hours before they were set to go on.

Three other members of the forecast group -- Lisa Mainardi, apparel fashion marketing manager, Cotton Incorporated; Mary Stipe, promotion and marketing director, American Wool Council, and Karen Puffer, marketing service manager, Lenzing Fibers Corp. -- presented the program.

Harley canceled "A Walking Tour of the IFFE Fabric Trends," slated for the opening and closing days of the show, and her trend board display of fabrics.

Harley said only that her withdrawal was due to circumstances beyond my control and irreconcilable differences between her and The Larkin Group. It left no alternative but to withdraw her sponsorship and support about the color project.

Larkin Group's Jonathan Larkin called it "a non-issue."

Roseann Forde, ready-to-wear fashion director of DuPont, also scheduled to appear at the forecast seminars, was unable to make the presentation because she had the flu, she noted.

Larkin said plans are in the works to expand the IFFE. He said he has had discussions with the Italian Trade Commission about Texitalia joining the IFFE.

A spokeswoman for ITC, which sponsors the twice-yearly show of Italian fabrics at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel here, said commission officials have spoken with Larkin and, "there are no plans to move the show." The next Texitalia is scheduled for April 11-13.

Adding to the international flavor of last week's show, representatives of Interstoff, the German textile trade fair, were at IFFE trying to promote their fair in Frankfurt, which takes place next week, April 6-8.

The sixth IFFE is slated for Oct. 18-20.

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