By and  on September 11, 2009

PARIS — Mills exhibiting at next week’s Première Vision and Texworld fairs here are counting on a commitment to higher quality and innovative product to pull them through difficult times.

Philippe Pasquet, chief executive officer of Première Vision, said he’s seen weavers make a “colossal effort” to improve their product for the winter season in the hopes of enticing buyers at the show, which is set for Sept. 15 to 18.

“They’ve understood that when you’re in this milieu, the only way is to go up or to [go bust],” Pasquet said.

He said the effort has been evident in the quality of the 15,000 swatches filtering through PV’s headquarters over the past few months. To highlight that effort, Pasquet has introduced PV Awards, the first awards ceremony in the history of the 36-year-old event.

“It’s exceptionally difficult, and when we saw that the attitude of the weavers was to invest in added value, we decided our role was to accompany them,” he said. “They’ve understood that their main argument lies in distinction.”

Four awards will be allocated to the show’s most exceptional fabrics. The winners will be selected by a panel of eight international fashion players. Véronique Nichanian, artistic director of men’s wear for Hermès, will preside over a jury that includes Fabrizio Flaccomio, senior designer and head of fabric research at Prada, and Nicolas Lepoutre, coordinator of material research at Louis Vuitton. Swatches from some 80 fabrics that have made the final will be on display in the General Forum.

The show’s organizers have also sought to streamline the layout. The site’s alleyways have been condensed to improve circulation. Fabrics for smaller items, such as blouses, will be positioned at the entrance of each hall, leading into heavier textiles geared to outerwear and suiting. More than 680 exhibitors from 31 countries will attend, down slightly from last year’s session.

The popular Bistrots Bests sections, which keep visitors informed of buyers’ preferred colors and fabrics, have been expanded to accommodate restaurants and animation areas. The organizers have also marked out two separate themes running through the Première Vision Pluriel sections for weavers specializing in recycled fabrics and fabrics for men’s overcoats.

Around 30 new weavers have joined the show, including American wool mill Woolrich; Lamintess Srl, an Italian specialist in technical and quilted fabrics for the outdoor and sportswear markets, and Kutsal Tekstil/Shamrock, a Turkish manufacturer of shirting fabrics.

A bulked-up selection of French subcontractors will participate in the third edition of Eurovet’s Zoom by Fatex salon. The section features subcontractors based in the Euro-med zone, Madagascar and Mauritius. The challenges faced by proponents of the endangered Made in France sector will form one of the topics of the salon’s conferences.

“Unfortunately, today a lot of luxury brands with a view onto the Rue Faubourg Saint-Honoré have a tendency to delocalize production,” said exhibition manager Agnes Etame-Yescot. “The future is about this kind of salon that caters to specific demands of clients, though it will no longer involve the big volumes of past years.”

Quality fabrics such as cashmere, silk and mohair will be emphasized at Texworld, which runs Sept. 14 to 17. Eco-friendly and fair-trade fabrics will also be featured.

Despite the declining number of exhibitors, down to 770 from 872 in 2008, the collection of Asian exhibitors is expected to be the largest in Paris.

A spokeswoman for Texworld said Asian mills have been energized by signs of economic recovery in China, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan.

Texworld organizers believe Asian mills are also able to offer a better value as well as innovation and creativity that meet and often exceed expectations of international buyers. This year, Asian exhibitors will be grouped together to maximize the impact on buyers and make planning easier for those who had to curtail the length of their visit due to budget constraints.

The China Premium marquee will host high-end mills that specialize in premium fabrics such as cashmere, silk and mohair, while the Wujiang Shengze pavilion will house 22 companies from Shengze, China’s silk capital.

Organizers have provided a special section dedicated to organically grown and fair-trade textiles, featuring organic cotton, ramie, hemp, linen, bamboo, wool and silk, but also recycled polyester and cellulose-based fibers. Despite the higher prices, demand for these products is on the rise, exhibitors say.

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