NATURALS AND BLENDS SHINE AT EXPOFIL
Byline: Gabrielle Birkner
PARIS — Warm and natural hues, blends of synthetic and natural fibers and yarns for extra-large and extra-fine gauges topped the list of trends at Expofil, the European yarn show here that ended its three-day run Thursday. Contrasts between light and dark, or between coarse and fine fibers, will make for an eclectic spring-summer 2001 season.
Other major trends at Expofil included:
Shiny yarns: polyamide, polyester, viscose, polyurethane and cottons coated with polyurethane.
Cotton, linen and hemp yarns, often tubular.
Warm and natural hues such as purples, greens, terra-cottas, yellows and neutrals.
Many exhibitors said business was slowly but steadily improving after the devastating Asian economic crisis of the past two years. Even so, they worried that the rising cost of raw materials would either reduce margins or drive up the prices of fabrics and clothing. Furthermore, manufacturers of synthetic yarns made from petroleum and petroleum by-products such as acrylic are facing rising oil prices.
“Acrylic fiber prices are up 25 percent to 30 percent,” said Carles Marcet, sales manager at Spanish yarn manufacturer Egarfil.
Even some natural fibers are undergoing rate hikes.
“I hope the markets will accept the increase of prices as cashmere fibers become more expensive,” said Luciano Bandi, yarn division managing director of Loro Piana & Co., the Quarona, Italy-based luxury cashmere specialist. He predicted that the increase in prices of raw materials would not hurt high-end luxury manufacturers such as Loro Piana, but said it could prove damaging for lower-end and spot-business manufacturers.
Jean-Francis Billion, vice president of Billion Mayor & Cie., a Lyon, France-based spinning company, said that even though he was optimistic about the performance of his firm’s spring-summer 2001 yarns featuring fine-filament nylon and crepe, he too worries that the rise in cost of raw materials will hurt profits.
“To stay competitive, we are forced to buy at a higher price but sell at the same price,” he said, illustrating how his company will take a hit on margins to preserve market share. Such worries are compounded by last Tuesday’s news in France that Lainiere de Roubaix, formerly part of the Prouvost yarn empire, went into court-ordered liquidation and will let go all of its 210 employees.
Just 10 years ago, Lainiere de Roubaix employed 2,100, but the company was hard hit in recent years, particularly in the wake of the Asian and Russian economic crises.
Its closing is an indication of the obstacles facing the European textile industry in general, observers warned.
In this competitive market compounded by the rising cost of raw materials, yarn manufacturers realize that they must evolve or die. This is just what Lame Ledal, the Torino, Italy-based yarn manufacturer who specializes in metallic yarn, is doing.
“Metallic yarns have fashion cycles, and so to normalize the curve, we are moving into more technical yarns,” said Daniel Treves, president. At Expofil, the company launched its matte metallic, phosphorescent and colored retro-reflective yarns.
“Our customers always want new products,” said Treves. Metallic yarns are very costly in general, but often come with a rough finish. The challenge facing Lame Ledal is keeping costs in line while trying to make soft yarns, Treves explained.
“Since we want clients to continue investment in Tactel [nylon], we are forced to continually innovate,” said Les Jacques, a development manager for Tactel by DuPont. At Expofil, Tactel showed off its newest innovations, such as a 100 percent Tactel shed-free chenille or lightweight snag-free crepes. DuPont Lycra spandex promoted Teflon-coated dust-, water- and stain-resistant yarn for clothing.
Elite was also an important catch-word at Expofil. Many spinners used the polyester elastic fiber created by Nylstar and blended it with natural and synthetic yarns to encourage shape-retention in apparel. Loro Piana, for example, showed yarns blending cashmere and Elite, while Swiss group Schoeller introduced Expand, a blend of viscose and Elite.
Expofil had 192 exhibitors this season, up from 180 a year ago and including 12 new ones. There was an increase in Spanish exhibitors to 22 from 17 last year. An Expofil spokeswoman attributed the increase to Spain’s large spectrum of high-quality classic and fantasy yarns sold at competitive prices.
A total of 7,004 visitors attended this session, only three fewer than last year. The number of non-French visitors totaled 3,012, down from 3,172 last year.