LOS ANGELES — Innovation and novelty helped drive business at the Los Angeles International Textile Show, where vendors and attendees continued to contend with the issue of balancing price, delivery and quality.
At the three-day show that ended Wednesday at the California Market Center here, more than 250 exhibitors from France, Italy, Korea, India, the U.S. and other countries presented not only their newest offerings for fall 2013, but also stock for spring to appeal to designers who prefer to order fabrics and manufacture clothing as late as possible. No matter which season was targeted, designers were keen on finding novel and innovative textiles. Sometimes price wasn’t a concern if the product exceeded expectations.
Many attendees were drawn to a pressed wool fashioned from recycled wool, alpaca and nylon that were dyed in brown ombré. Made by Italy’s Euromaglia, the pressed wool cost $29 a meter. Even more expensive but just as popular was sequined fabric from India’s Sofiatex that changed color in the light; it cost $68 a yard before duties and shipping fees. New York’s Ermani Group garnered interest for wool bouclé whose prices started at $20 a yard. Novelty was also a selling point in trims such as studs, embellished Peter Pan collars and animal prints from Canada’s Pacific Imports, which charged 35 cents to $30 a piece.
Technology helped ChungWoo Textile Co. from Korea pull off a debut as one of the 14 booths in the Korea Pavilion. Already working with clients such as BCBG Max Azria and Forever 21, ChungWoo highlighted its pre bio-washed spandex that is soft to the touch and can be dyed in any color. Priced between $3 and $4 a yard, the material requires a minimum of 1,000 yards.
JH Textile Inc., also from Korea, attracted customers with its fake fur that emulated ermine and other lavish skins at a cost of $5 to $12 a yard. The most popular styles epitomized texture and novelty, such as bonded fabrics and rounded welts on white fur. Even as designers expressed that price was a primary concern, JH president Kerry Gil said it’s impossible to lower prices without compromising quality. “We use special yarn,” he said. “The piling is 6 millimeters to 15 millimeters.”
In addition to the Korea Pavilion, the trade expo hosted 28 booths as part of the Lenzing-sponsored group, 24 booths in the European section and 13 L.A.-based mills. The bulk of the attendees represented the local industry’s strength in high-end and contemporary design, including Kevan Hall, Erik Hart, Jasmin Shokrian and Britain’s Jigsaw, which has started to make some clothes in L.A.
Acknowledging that textile and apparel manufacturing often go hand in hand, show organizers are trying to expand the textile venue into a sourcing fair. Bharat Silks did double duty for its premiere at the show by selling its digital prints and novelty jacquards for $9 to $20 a yard and promoting its full-package manufacturing facility in India that charges $15 and higher to produce each garment.
Growing interest in U.S. production has created buzz for local textile mills. Yet even with the attention, the last remaining domestic manufacturers must constantly evolve and innovate. Design Knit Inc., which has been manufacturing knits in L.A. for 28 years, piled on novel details, including Lurex stripes on linen-cotton slub and chevron patterns on plissé, twill and jacquard, for its fabrics that sell for between $2.50 and $20 a yard. It also promoted knits that customers can mix and match for cut-and-sew sweaters.
“People want the versatility,” said Pat Tabassi, Design Knit’s product development and marketing manager, adding that the company is also compiling a list of local cut-and-sew factories to recommend to customers who want to make clothes in L.A.
Unitex, a knitting mill based in Vernon, Calif., believes the economy must improve before it sees a surge in production. Because it makes everything outside of L.A., its production schedule runs between three and four weeks with a 1,000-yard minimum. Top sellers at the show defined texture and novelty, such as jacquard knitted in geometric patterns and double-face stripes.
“Once we get some stability with the economy, you’ll definitely see more Made in USA [products],” said Michael Tanios, Unitex’s manager of production and fabric development. “It could be next year. It could be affected by the [U.S. presidential] election.”
For designers, maintaining a competitive edge while staying innovative with fabrics and designs is a top concern. Jodi Benavidez, designer of a Costa Mesa, Calif.-based women’s contemporary loungewear line called Brokedown that is carried by Saks Fifth Avenue and specialty stores, juggled an eye for fast-changing trends with a budget limited to less than $20 a yard as she shopped the textile expo.
“The biggest challenge is staying ahead of the game without having mass marketers knock you off,” she said.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast