By  on July 21, 2009

NEW YORK — Fabric suppliers exhibiting at last week’s round of international textile fairs here have seen buyers slash the size of their orders, but sense the worst may have passed.

While few mills are seeing a spike in order writing from buyers, they have adjusted to the realities of doing business in an environment of prolonged global economic downturn. The expectation is that brands and retailers will play it safe with smaller orders in a bid to keep costs low and avoid excess inventory. Buyers also have been quick to reorder once they see a product working, and innovative, creative fabrics that can help an item stand out and entice customers continue to drive buyers.

At Première Vision Preview, which took place at the Metropolitan Pavilion July 15 and 16, exhibitors reported consistent traffic at their booths. The show featured 97 exhibitors, compared with 116 during last year’s edition, and attracted about 3,000 visitors.

Exhibitors said buyers continued to grapple with constrained budgets but seemed more upbeat about the future.

“I think the feeling in general is that it’s slow out there,” said Scott Henkus, account executive with Prosperity Denim. “But buyers still want to see something new and different.”

The show’s organizers are looking to boost the profile of both the New York and Paris editions through a new partnership with the Council of Fashion Designers of America. CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg was on hand to unveil the beginning of a relationship aimed at improving the show and helping designers. One of the biggest issues facing the Paris edition of Première Vision is its conflicting dates with New York Fashion Week.

“We all think Première Vision is very important and feel that we should all work together so we do not miss it, and that we are committed to making it a must,” said von Furstenberg. “It’s very much in the heart of every designer and it’s very much in the habit of every designer.”

Phillipe Pasquet, chief executive officer of Première Vision, said the overlapping dates will be a problem through 2010. In addition to tackling scheduling issues, Pasquet said the organizers also are working with the CFDA to develop special services for young designers.

“At the end of the day, we have the same objective: making the world of fashion and creativity as efficient as possible,” said Pasquet. “We have to find a way of having as many designers comfortable with the dates and our services.”

Pasquet acknowledged that the summer season had been “very tough” and that many in the industry had put their hopes on a recovery for winter collections. He was viewing last week’s show as a barometer for the upcoming Paris show.

“The outcome of this event will be very important on the kind of expectation we can have for the coming months,” he said. “Companies are still investing a lot in product development, so I’m still very impressed by that.”

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