PARIS — It’s all about blending in for spring 2012 fabrics, with high raw material costs pushing weavers to increasingly experiment with alternative fiber mixes.
Designers attending the recent edition of Première Vision here embraced the trend for blends, lauding the innovation on display across collections. Among the fabrics being blended with cotton were linen, viscose, synthetics and cellulose-based fibers like Lyocell, Modal and Tencel.
“It’s a challenge; you have to make something new out of it,” said Lanvin men’s wear designer Lucas Ossendrijver, who cited Japanese woolen mill Nikke among the standouts. “More blends will come out on the market, which I think is more interesting as yarns are a lot more advanced than in the Seventies.”
Several weavers at the show significantly raised prices, while others declined to quote prices in view of market volatility.
“Some prefer to give no prices at all as it means taking a big risk on margins,” said Philippe Pasquet, chief executive officer of PV, which ended its three-day run at the Paris-Nord Villepinte exhibition park on Feb. 10.
Sue Browning, director of fabric research and development at Express, said, “The entire industry is in flux — they are calculating and recalculating.”
Wool prices have risen by around 40 percent over the past year, with cotton prices leaping 160 percent, due to an imbalance of supply and demand. Contributing factors include flooding in major cotton-producing territories in places such as Australia, China and Pakistan, as well as rising demand for cotton from China.
However, while certain experts at the event claimed the price of apparel items could rise by 15 percent as a consequence of the high cost of raw materials, designers at PV seemed generally unruffled by increases on fabrics.
“Maybe for plain cotton items it will cause a problem, but for special items, people are willing to spend,” said Dior Homme’s creative director Kris Van Assche.
“I still think [the increase in prices] is very acceptable when it concerns quality product, with quality of cut, material and ideas,” said Jil Sander, who was shopping for fabrics for her +J collection for Uniqlo.
Both Sander and Raf Simons, who also attended the show, lauded Limonta’s collection.
Exhibitors agreed the mood was upbeat, despite the price pressures. Several British mills said order books were bulging.
“It’s dramatic, but doesn’t seem to have affected business yet,” Martin Aveyard, design director at vertical British woolen mill Abraham Moon, said of the cost increases. “In fact, people are placing orders earlier as they are worried wool prices will increase, and they probably will.”
Jacki Deena Tutelman-Bender, sales director of Ratti, said, “People are placing meters here, which is wonderful.”
Manish Arora, who was shopping for fabrics for his first spring collection for Paco Rabanne, as the house’s new creative director for women’s wear, lauded the high-tech fabrics at Italian Converter.
“They’re very modern, using multitechniques on one material,” he said.
Collections brimmed with an array of bright colors and prints, from neon-printed silks at Mantero to an array of fun Thirties-style designs, like a banana motif woven fabric by Estamparia Têxtil Adalberto Pinto da Silva.
“I saw lots of Josephine Baker-flavored graphic prints, Liberty florals and heavy Amish-style fabrics,” observed Gabriella Cortese, founder of Antik Batik.
While synthetics continue to benefit from cotton shortages, the cycle could shift again, predicted Roger Lee, managing director at Tecnon OrbiChem, a London-based marketing consultancy specializing in the chemicals, petrochemicals, plastics and fibers industries. “What we are seeing is not a sea change, it’s a dip due to natural disasters. Cotton production is forecasted to increase and the likelihood is that the cycle will repeat itself again. I don’t think that the consumer will see a huge increase other than his cotton shirt will cost a bit more.”
At Texworld, which ran from Feb. 7 to 10, the mood was mixed, with some exhibitors staying away due to the Chinese New Year and political turmoil in the Arab world. The stand for Egypt’s Wagdy Moamen Weaving Mill was empty, with a sign saying its representatives were unable to attend due to the political upheaval.
Sherif Moamen, the company’s vice president, said by telephone that the mill had initially been forced to close for seven days due to a government-imposed curfew, but had since returned to normal working hours.
Meanwhile, buyers grappled with high prices.
“It’s still really tough,” said Natalie McGuinness, buyer for ladies’ formal tops at Marks & Spencer. “We’re looking to do more fabric auctions than we have done before, pooling together all our meterage across the business to try and get better leverage of scale. We’re also looking to different countries to manufacture in to gain duty benefits,” citing Cambodia and Bangladesh as fiscally attractive.
Tim Robert, sales director at Chadwick Textiles Ltd., a British supplier of sportswear fabrics and garments, said prices of nylon and polyester had risen 15 to 20 percent in the last quarter of 2010.
“On some of my basic fabric items that I import into the U.K. and then sell on to Europe, I need to find the same items cheaper,” Robert said. “I’ve had some success at that, but the sportswear suppliers are limited on knits and wovens,” adding that Texworld was traditionally stronger on linen, lace, denim and heavy wovens.
A group of Pakistani denim producers attended the show despite a disastrous season that saw much of the domestic cotton crop swept away by floods. Muhammad Irfan Aslam, manager of fabric sales and marketing at Azgard Nine Ltd., said the company had been forced to raise prices 60 to 70 percent last year due to the cotton shortage.
“Some of the buyers who are our partners, they are accepting those increases, but of course not to the extent to which we had to pay for cotton and yarns,” said Aslam, adding the situation would not improve until the new cotton crop arrives in September.
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye