By  on August 17, 2010

NEW YORK — Stretch denim, polyester and rayon blends that bring softness to jeans and cutting-edge technologies such as bioceramic fabrics that are said to promote health and wellness were key trends at the recent fall 2011 Kingpins denim textile show.

Vendors and attendees said they are under pressure to keep prices down, as consumers seek lower prices for jeans in the still-recovering retail landscape.

“Men’s brands are adding more stretch, which has traditionally been for the women’s market, and women want more stretch than ever,” said Susan Lawrence, senior director of merchandising at Columbus, Ga.-based Denim North America. “What’s been selling well is fabric with 27 to 35 percent stretch, which is part of the whole leggings fit trend.”

Customers such as GoldSign, Citizens of Humanity and Genetic Denim also were looking for cotton and rayon blends that provide comfort and a luxurious feel to denim, Lawrence said. However, there is a shortage of rayon in the market.

“Rayon is better than Tencel to blend for jeans, but there’s not a lot of rayon available,” said Linsey Hinkle, director of merchandising and development at Denim North America.

Tavex Corp., which produces in Mexico, has seen a bump in orders as prices go up in China.

“The L.A. brands need lower prices in today’s climate and we are physically close to that market,” said Jeannie Cumiskey, marketing manager for North and Central America at Tavex.

The company is jumping on the trend for “wellness fabrics,” including bioceramics that are said to pull beneficial infrared rays toward the body, helping to promote blood flow and oxygen delivery. It’s been used for items such as T-shirts, but Tavex is making it available in denim for next year, Cumiskey said.

Japan-based Kurabo Industries showcased a collection of high-end selvage offerings for ultrapremium jeans. Various colors of selvage were on display, such as red, brown and black, along with selvage in pima cotton and stretch versions. A pricy, natural indigo denim was available for $14 a yard, while a more affordable version in 10 percent natural indigo was $7 a yard.

“The economy hasn’t affected demand for denim, but it has impacted price,” said Andrew Olah, founder of the Kingpins show, which ran July 13 and 14. “Consumers are reevaluating what a good value is and they may no longer think a $250 jean is sensible. I think the luxury business has gone back to the true luxury consumer, while the rest of us are looking for better values,” he said.

At Cone Denim, novelty treatments and effects were the major selling points. These included denims that mimicked khaki, fabrics treated with either clear or black coatings for various visual effects and denim that looked heavyweight but was light and comfortable, as well as stretch fabrics that looked rigid.

EAM Maliban Group showcased the technological capabilities of its Melbourne Textile Washing Plant in Wattala, Sri Lanka. Among the laundry list of available wet and dry processing features were advanced laser printing techniques.

Invista highlighted the stretch, recovery and durability characteristics of its patented Lycra, Lycra T400, XFit Lycra and Cordura fabrics. The various types of Lycra spandex offer industry-leading stretch married to excellent recovery, to minimize growth and shrinkage problems on garments, said Jean Hegedus, global marketing director for bottoms at Invista. XFit Lycra offers those properties with four-way stretch for maximum performance and design possibilities. Cordura denim provides four times as much durability as conventional cotton denim, making it ideal for the skateboarding and workwear markets, added Cindy McNaull, brand marketing director for the Cordura division of Invista.

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