Byline: Daniela Gilbert

NEW YORK — With Premiere Vision right around the corner (Oct. 1-3 in Paris), designers are busy preparing for one of the most important moves they’ll make for their fall 2000 collections — picking the right fabrics.
Anne Klein’s senior vice presidents and creative directors Isaac Franco and Ken Kaufman, as well as Jane Bong, vice president of textile research and development, agreed to spend a day with WWD at three distinct mill showrooms to preview their picks for the season.
Some of the key looks the team was seeking included stretch; heavier-looking fabrics that are lightweight; boiled, bonded and knit-like looks; super-sheer wools; heavily brushed mohairs, and laser-cutable wools, in addition to fabrics that can take embellishments well.
“We’re looking for fabrics that are both body-conscious and weight-conscious. They need to create strong silhouettes and look heavy, but feel luxurious against the body and lightweight,” said Franco.
“Technology is playing an important role in helping to create these types of looks,” he added.
Kaufman also stressed the importance of a fabric’s hand. “The finishing is so important because a fabric must be soft. We’re not interested in things that aren’t soft. Even the organic looks that are out today still need to feel great or our customer won’t buy it.”
As far as color, Franco said he is cautious about pointing out the next hot hue. “The market has changed and women shop differently now. It’s really more about strategically placing color.” He noted, however, that all shades of green will be very important for the fall 2000 season.
Here, the mills Anne Klein’s team visited with WWD and the fabrics they picked to sample.
J.P. DOUMAK: As the US representative/converter for four italian mills — Ones, Crespi, Tesj and Reggiani — J.P. Doumak also weaves its own line, Lanificio Lombarda, out of Italy.
Its speciality, according to Anthony Vecchione, vice president of sales, is the variety they offer. “Today’s market needs a well-rounded supplier and that’s what we offer our customers,” he said.
With looks ranging from $3 to $45 a yard, J.P. Doumak features everything from doublefaced woolens and plain weaves to fabrics that are sheer and others that feature technical coatings. It also offers designer colors in stock so “customers can purchase right off the color cards,” said Vecchione.
Each mill, he added, has its niche. At Reggiani, it’s stretch; Ones is more diverse with a range of price points on novelty cloths; Crespi features cotton and wool blends that are driven by the casual market; and Tesj features a selection of knits.
“It’s one-stop shopping,” offered Franco.
Kaufman added, “We need a place that satisfies all of our diverse lines — A Line, Anne Klein Suits, Anne Klein II and handbags. We also have 16 licensees so J.P. Doumak’s great depth of assortment, which is well edited, offers us exactly what we need.
“And, they offer great service.”
THE PICKS: Anne Klein’s picks from J.P. Doumak included a winter white doublefaced wool stretch blend; a burgundy tone-on-tone viscose blend — “very textural and decorative and great for day, not just holiday,” said Franco; a buffalo plaid in taffeta; decorative novelty looks; a stretch tweed — “looks wintery but it’s light, which is so important right now,” said Kaufman; and a doublefaced fabric with polyurethane coated cotton on one side and a fleece-like cotton on the other.
LUIGI BOTTO: An Italian mill specializing in wool, wool blends and stretch, Luigi Botto, according to Michael Marchese, account executive, is concentrating on texture, technical finishes and drier hands for fall 2000. Looks range from $15 to $28 a meter, and go up to $38 a meter.
Here, the team at Anne Klein said it’s the attention to luxury that keeps them coming back to the mill. “They bring an edge of luxe to our collection,” offered Franco. “Their finishes add a touch of refinement.”
“They’re always taking their looks to the next level and often have different elements in one fabric,” added Kaufman. “They twist the classics in a very luxurious way.”
And, “their yarn division allows us to coordinate colors between the wovens and the yarn,” noted Bong.
THE PICKS: Franco and Kaufman’s picks included an orange wool, silk and elastane fabric that answered the “heavy look but light feel” call; a doublefaced jacketing fabric fused with a softer fabric with batting between them — “very soft, and it gives volume,” said Bong; a doublefaced donegal and cashmere look; lighter, flannel-like cloths that are felted; splitable, doublefaced fabrics that “produce an unlined garment,” said Kaufman; lightweight wools — “we need to remember our Southern doors,” he added; and a metal and wool combination that is a “new way of using metal, very soft,” said Franco.
KNI: This US agent for a variety of Japanese mills that cater to the domestic Japanese market specializes in “synthetic fabrics with a technological edge,” according to Kuni Nomura, president.
“The Mitsubishi mill produces high-quality looks in rayon and triacetate, while Suzukura, a vertical mill, spins their own novelty looks,” he added.
“It really brings a balance to our collection,” offered Franco. “There is such innovation in their technology that they are able to create a new sense of modern in addition to producing a great hand.”
“I love that these fabrics are transseasonal,” added Bong. “And, they’re a mix of technical capabilities with a designer spin.”
“KNI offers us impeccable quality control, consistence in shipping and a price that is extremely competitive,” said Kaufman. “It affords us the ability to make clothing whose value exceeds the price tag.”
THE PICKS: The team’s picks included selections from Itoi, a new line of sheer, silky wools; and a variety of of both space-dyed and yarn-dyed triacetate and rayon combinations that feature a rich color palette.