By  on March 15, 1994

NEW YORK -- An exhibitor lineup that will include more heavy hitters from the U.S. plus an increased roster of foreign suppliers is expected to add muscle to the fifth edition of the International Fashion Fabric Exhibition here next week.

Three of the top U.S. apparel fabric suppliers -- Greenwood Mills, Springs Industries and Texfi Industries -- along with Cranston Print Works Co. and Horizon Textiles, two of the leading fabric converters, will join an exhibitor list that has swelled to 320 firms, almost 50 percent more than the 220 that exhibited in October.

The three-day show of fabrics, trimmings and services begins March 22 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

Jonathan Larkin, president of the show's sponsor, The Larkin Group, said signing those firms "is indicative of the pull this show has begun to have.

"Two years ago, most people were cynical regarding how big the show could become," Larkin said. "We think we've proven those people wrong."

Greenwood's appearance marks the first time a major denim producer has showcased its goods at the show. Although Cone Mills, a key denim maker, did begin participating at IFFE last October, it featured fabrics from its NorthPointe sportswear fabrics division and plans to do so again next week.

William Coffee, Greenwood's international marketing director, said the company decided to get involved in the IFFE "to see if it's worthwhile."

"We talked to the people at Cone, and they said they developed some good leads when they took part in October," Coffee said. "We understand there are going to be quite a few international customers coming, and that may lead to some increased export business."

Coffee said Greenwood is highlighting its entire denim collection, including a new group of chambrays made from Tencel along with a collection of ring-spun products.

Larkin said the IFFE is expecting about 8,000 buyers, including 1,000 from overseas. October's IFFE drew about 6,800.

Among the international resources that will make their debut are Texil Fibra of Italy; Indigo Yarn Co. and John England Textiles, both from London; Schoelle Textile of Switzerland; Pratex, from Spain; Arvind International, from India; Polysindo, from Indonesia, and King Wei of Taiwan.While the exhibitor base is expanding, Larkin said he is most encouraged that Cranston and Horizon, two members of the Textile Distributors Association -- a group comprised chiefly of New York-based converters and mills -- decided to exhibit at IFFE.

The two firms join Tandler Textiles, de Marco California Fabrics and Lawrence Textiles as other TDA members that display their goods at the event.

"We've heard a lot in the past that the show doesn't generate enough business to make it worth our while to show there," said Jeffrey Schechter, Horizon's vice president of operations. "As our international business expands, we think it will be a good experience for us to show at the IFFE. We are not allowing people just to browse in our booth, however. Companies must do so on an appointment-only basis because we want to control who is shopping for our merchandise."

The initial IFFE , held in March 1992, featured about 80 firms, and drew about 3,000, according to Larkin.

Another firm, S. Shamash & Sons, an international producer of silk fabrics based in New York, decided to return to the IFFE, after bowing out last October. At the time, Jeffrey White, Shamash's president, said he "wasn't getting the type of exhibitor base that we would have liked.

"A lot of people that showed there practically operated businesses out of their homes," White added. "But now they've given us a reason to come back. They have upgraded their exhibitors, moved to a better location in the Javits Center, and have signed up a lot more buyers."

"We listened to the problems and complaints that our exhibitors had, and we feel we've addressed them," said Larkin, who noted that moving the show downstairs to a 25,000-square-foot location in sections 1E and 1D from a 15,000-square-foot space in the upper mezzanine of the Javits Center, "provides a much more intimate setting, more conducive to doing business.

"The mezzanine was too open and too noisy," Larkin said. "Everything kind of got lost up there."

In addition to the fabrics, 10 computer-aided design firms, will exhibit in a "CAD Corner" in section 1D. Among the firms that have confirmed they are showing are Gerber Garment Technologies, Lectra Systems, Monarch Computex, MicroDynamics, CAD TEX/JN Computer and Info Design."We've seen the show grow since the first one," said Jakim Notea, president of CAD TEX/JN Computer. "It's been through a lot of growing pains, but we think it has arrived as a legitimate show for the fabric industry. Responding to a growing concern over issues confronting the textile industry, the IFFE is sponsoring several seminars during the show.

Among them is "NAFTA & 807," to be held on March 22 at 8:30 a.m. Beth C. Ring, a partner in the firm Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, will discuss special access and special regime programs (807A), how the customs and quota rules under NAFTA will impact these programs, and labeling textiles and apparel under NAFTA.

To promote the latest edition of IFFE, The Larkin Group Monday began displaying posters touting the show in about 20 Helmsley-Spear buildings on Seventh Avenue and Broadway that house apparel manufacturers.

In addition, a banner bearing the IFFE logo will be placed later this week across Broadway at West 39th Street.

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