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.
There'll be no rest for those headed to Europe for men's, as Paris just closed the gap with Milan. According to a provisional calendar released by the Chambre Syndicale, Paris Men's Week will now open a day earlier on January 16. See new highlights on the official lineup on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
BREAKING: Jonathan Saunders is leaving @DVF. The designer has resigned from his position as chief creative officer of Diane von Furstenberg, the company said in a statement on Friday. At the time of his hire, von Furstenberg said Saunders’ arrival symbolized and facilitated her stepping back from the day-to-day duties that occupy the work of a full-time creative director. The British designer joined DVF in May 2016 and was in charge of all product categories. #wwdnews
For @versace_official’s spring ad campaign, the brand emphasized the archival prints from the spring tribute collection dedicated to the late Gianni Versace. Closing out the show were five of Gianni’s favorite models: Cindy, Naomi, Carla, Helena, and Claudia. Bowing on December 18, the new campaign is yet another tribute to supermodel-dom as the images by Steven Meisel are fronted by @iamnaomicampbell, @cturlington, @gisele and more. #wwdfashion
Four-time Oscar-nominated actress Annette Bening has been waiting 20 years to play Gloria Graham in "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool," which will be released on December 29. The movie about Graham – a Hollywood star known for her controversial relationship with a younger Englishman named Peter Turner – is based off a memoir Turned wrote. "She felt vulnerable to him, because she loved him, she really did love him. And anyone that we really truly are in love with, we re vulnerable to in a very deep way," said Bening. Read our full interview with the modern icon of an actress on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @ninebagatelles; Styled by @cristinaehrlich)
The crisp white button down: a staple that can be dressed up or down and accessorized throughout the decades. Here, on a Art Basel-goer in 2017 on the left and on the iconic Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday” in 1953 on the right. #tbt #wwdfashion (📷: Andrew Morales)
Known for her work with @victoriassecret, 25-year-old model @georgiafowler is raising her profile in Hollywood. Fowler stars in @vincecamuto’s holiday campaign, which launched in partnership with “Pitch Perfect 3.” “Almost every shoot with Vince Camuto, I’ve had to face a fear…It was definitely a challenge. I’m so grateful for it, though. I’ve always wanted to be a pop star, so that was the perfect chance,” Fowler said. Head to WWD.com to read about Fowler’s experience modeling, including at the #VSFashionShow, and her relationship with Nick Jonas. #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
EXCLUSIVE: Huda Kattan just became the first beauty influencer to land a major beauty deal. Kattan's business, @hudabeauty, has received a minority investment from private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners. The brand, which industry sources say is on track to do $200 million in retail sales for 2017, will receive support on product, retail and geographic expansion through the deal. Get all the details on the deal and read @_a_collins' interview with Kattan on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdbeauty #wwdnews
Peruvian model @juanaburga_official – who is known for walking the runways of @rodarte, @viviennewestwood and @torybuch – is making the move to the big screen with drama “Los Últimos.” The film premiered in Argentina in November and arrives in the U.S. and Europe in 2018. On making the switch from modeling to acting, Burga told WWD: “It’s a completely different thing – a lot of people think it’s similar or try to connect things, especially like getting used to the camera or being looked at all the time or playing these different characrers, but film is a completely different story.” #wwdeye (📷: @jgreenery)
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)