Show organizers expect to see a slight dip in visitors from the U.S.

PARIS — Organizers of the Première Vision textile trade show anticipate seeing the impact of the weak global economy on attendance figures, but are responding by expanding the range of fabric resources available to potential buyers.

This story first appeared in the September 16, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Première Vision is set to run Sept. 23 to 26 at the Parc d’Expositions in Paris-Nord, Villepinte. Some 720 mills will exhibit, hailing primarily from Italy and France. Organizers confirmed an expected dip in visitors from the U.S.

“Business in our recent salon in New York [in June] was excellent,” said PV’s chief executive officer Philippe Pasquet. “America is by no means dead. But for almost all of the world’s developed markets, the market is at its worst since a very long time. A number of operators will likely be limiting trips.”

The event has added a new section in Hall 1 called Zoom by Fatex, dedicated to high-end subcontractors, as part of its effort to offer buyers new and distinct goods and services.

“Whereas all our other [Première Vision Pluriel] salons present product, for the first time we’re proposing firms armed with sophisticated manufacturing savoir faire,” said Pasquet.

The service, which targets manufacturers located close to Europe’s leading mills, is primarily geared toward the Euro-Med zone, including Mauritius and Madagascar. But Pasquet stressed the project in no way excludes American distributors and brands.

“Many Americans manufacture in countries such as Morocco. The idea is to propose firms that are coherent with our textiles offer [in terms of quality],” he said. “Sometimes brands get so distracted by other parts of their business, such as marketing, that they overlook the importance of the originality of their product. It’s vital to start focusing on designs that will excite interest in the consumer. If there is to be a brand personality, then there has to be more direct involvement in the selection of fabric and methods of [production].”

Zoom by Fatex will feature 31 mills handpicked by a selection committee on the basis of their creative capacities, turnaround cycles and financial health. Firms selected include Brisbane Moss, which produces traditional British velvets, wools and techno tartan cottons, coated with weatherproof Teflon and Windproof properties; Gentili, an artisan Italian silk manufacturer, and Hyosung, a Japanese firm specializing in high-tech fabrics made from polyester fibers and recycled polyamide.

Woolmark will also unveil its new drip-dry Showerclean suit at Première Vision, while parent company Australian Wool Innovation will inaugurate a new branding strategy at a press conference on Sept. 25. Craig Walsh, ceo of AWI, will unveil the organization’s new campaign and logo at the event, as well as a new brand architecture for the various wool gradings.

Among prominent textiles trends at the fair, according to fashion director Pascaline Wilhelm, is a move toward thick, weighty fabrics with supple hands.

“They allow for heavy, rigid, round forms but remain supple. They’re firm but at the same time very soft and reassuring,” she said, adding sporting fabrics are also being mixed with a number of high-end fabrics. “I call it sporting couture, where techno activewear fabrics are coupled with daily fabrics such as wool, cotton and viscose. Foam-bonding and elasticity are also now being adapted to luxury fabrics.”