HONG KONG — Interstoff Asia Essential featured a fresh selection of innovative fabrics on display, even as the exhibition deals with shifting buying patterns.

This story first appeared in the April 8, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The three-day fair saw 221 exhibitors from nine countries, slightly less than the 229 exhibitors from a year earlier. Attendance was also marginally down, with 7,027 visitors, compared with 7,244 in 2013.

Deborah Dinter, designer for Banana Blue, based in Melbourne, Australia, felt the fair might be losing some of its vitality, but was still a good resource.

“I’ve been coming for six years and each year it gets smaller,” Dinter said. “I’m after fabric for ladies’ fashion and I’ve found some Japanese fabrics I like.”

Hong Kong-based Jasmine Saintonge, representing TMS Fashion, was impressed with the quality and diversity of fabrics, but noted that the fair seemed less busy.

“There don’t seem to be as many buyers,” Saintonge said. “I don’t know where they’ve gone, maybe to the Intertextile fair in Shanghai [both fairs are produced by Messe Frankfurt Inc.]. But there are some interesting things here this year. I walked down the first aisle and immediately found two fabrics I wanted.”

Taiwanese fabric manufacturer DJIC Ltd. has exhibited at the fair for 15 years and developed a strong Hong Kong customer base. DJIC president Daniel Wu said it was a good opportunity to showcase new products, noting that the firm’s loose terry fabric, bonded fabric and Tencel were getting a lot of attention.

“This time, we’ve found a new American buyer who likes the bonded fabric,” Wu said. “The Chinese buyers are looking, too, but they can’t afford our prices. They keep asking if we can do something similar, but cheaper.”

Exhibiting at Interstoff for the first time, Barry, the general manager of Shaoxing Youying Trading Co. Ltd., who only goes by this name, said while the fair was an opportunity to touch base with his Hong Kong customers, new buyers were hard to find.

“We’ll probably come back again next year, but it depends on how the economy is doing,” he said.

The fair’s seminars and fashion shows were well attended. Doneger Creative Services director Kai Chow, who gave the opening trend address and oversaw the Trend Forum, said 3-D or dimensional fabric is a big trend and colors for spring 2015 are bright.

“The new 3-D fabric has embroidery, stitch interest and weaving — they are adding another dimension to lace,” Chow said. “Pink is still on trend for early spring, as well as yellow and orange. And for summer, I’m calling it ‘Brazilian’ — the fabrics are exotic, graphic patterns; they aren’t afraid to be bright.”

He also saw green as a big trend for next spring, with the color running the full spectrum from bright rainforest to dark greens.

Xiaofei Li, design director at China’s Trend Department of China Textile Information Center, also pointed to green, especially fluorescent and minty colors. She said there was an increasing interest in high-quality, textured fabrics on the mainland as consumers became more sophisticated.

“There is a new definition of luxury,” Li said. “Chinese consumers are more mature in their understanding of luxury brands. It’s not just about having logos all over the products anymore, they care about the quality of the fabric.”

She expected to see more sculpted fabrics as part of the 3-D fabric trend, and said the translucent fabrics that have been popular on the mainland will be combined with nontransparent fabrics next year. In a suggestion that the lackluster economy, which put a damper on this year’s fair, may be around a while longer, Li added, “Gold will sweep the 2015 season. In this gloomy economy, we can expect to see a preference for shiny gold.”

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