STRETCH, LUXE KEY EUROPEAN EXPO
Byline: Allegra Holch / Stuart Chirls
NEW YORK — Stretch wovens as well as knits, textures and sheers were among the big stories at European Textile Selection, the multinational fabric show that ended its three-day run at the Hotel Inter-Continental Thursday.
The emphasis on stretch reflected the growing demand from apparel makers and consumers for comfort and practicality, while textures, in such ideas as pique, jacquards and open-weave knits, underscored the continuing trend toward rustic interpretations. Sheer chiffon and organza, often with decorative floral or leaf embroidery, extended the romantic approach into spring ’98. Burnout jerseys in floral and abstract patterns and iridescent effects in knits and wovens were also getting attention.
As usual, the well-focused twice-yearly showcase won plaudits from buyers for its ease of shopping and its variety of upscale offerings. The show, which incorporates Texitalia, Jardins d’Elegance, Austria Textil and Tejidos de Espana, continues to expand, adding five Portuguese mills to the roster this season for a total of 52 exhibitors. It drew 1,050 visitors, according to Amy Bergman, trade analyst for the Italian Trade Commission, the show’s organizer.
The number of visitors was slightly higher than at last year’s shows, Bergman said. However, with the event shifting dates about two weeks earlier to more closely follow the big European fabric expos, exhibitors frequently complained that traffic seemed lighter in the face of the Easter holiday and the fact that designers were preoccupied with getting together their collections for New York’s Fashion Week, which gets under way this week.
“It’s a mistake to do it so early,” said Emma Faggiani, international sales manager for the Italian Mill Carnet/Mario Capra. “Designers are too busy. I’m not saying no one came, but for the level of fabrics I show — which is very high end — it’s too early.”
While the flow was also slow at Samco, another Italian mill, according to Claudio Allegri, “the level of customer is good — mostly people we’ve worked with before.” According to Allegri, iridescent and transparent looks were getting attention, along with embroidery on transparent chiffons. Open-work knits in shiny viscose and acetate space-dyed yarns and bi-color double organzas were also doing well.
Cigitex, an Italian mill based in Prato, was showing for the first time with the Texitalia group. “It’s been a little slow — especially on the first day,” said Fabio Guidi, a partner in the firm. “But we’ve seen some big companies, for example, Donna Karan Intimates, and some customers from California and Florida.”
The collection, which is a 50/50 split between knits and wovens, features a wide range of novelty looks from polyurethane coated linens to viscose jersey knits. “The knits are doing a little better than the wovens,” said Guidi, “and there’s been a lot of interest in transparency and jersey knits.”
“Linen is going to be important again too, but in variations,” added Edward Harding, president of Barn Hill Co., the U.S. agent for Cigitex. “For example, yarn-dyes that are almost iridescent, linen with chenille textures and even polyurethane coated versions.”
Exhibitors in the Spanish contingent were also experiencing a somewhat sluggish show. “It’s been going slow — slower than the last show in November,” said Luis Estevez Huerta, export manager of Madrid-based Cadena. “I’ve noticed that we’ve had almost nobody from the West Coast this time.” The mill, which specializes in acetate and viscose jacquards was also showing Chinoiserie style florals on silk, and flocked polyester in pastel colors in what the mill called “comfort stretch. “The stretch is in the weave,” said Huerta; no spandex is used.
“There are definitely fewer people this season,” said Cesar Blasco, export manager for Texdam, a Barcelona mill that specializes in novelty knitted fabrics. “All the New York designers are working on their lines right now,” he said, “but we have seen some new customers.” Looks that were getting attention included iridescent effects, stretch ideas with Lycra and anything with Tactel nylon.
“Tactel is a big part of Texdam’s business,” said Cristina Knaus, president of Grupo Textil, Texdam’s U.S. agent. She also cited terry cloth textures and “anything with pile, from velour to velvet,” as important.
At the Portuguese mill Arco, a company that specializes in yarn-dyed cotton shirtings, traffic was “fair,” said George Wells, vice president of European Textile Trading, Arco’s U.S. agent. “Since this is the first time we’ve shown here, I’d say the show’s been OK,” he said, “and we’ll probably show again.” Seersucker with fancy weaves and iridescent cross-dyed qualities were drawing the most attention said Wells. He also noted that the average price is $5-$6 per meter, adding “The Portuguese are known for good price points.”
“So far, so good,” said Francois Damide, president of Solstiss & Groupe Perrin USA, the U.S. arm of those French mills. “We will see between 150 and 200 people over the show, which is very important to us.”
For Groupe Perrin, muted tones and drapy fabrics in silk and silk and rayon blends were heavily sampled, as were pastel brights and romantic warp prints on taffeta and duchesse satin. Animal print lace, fish scale metallics and beaded lace were standouts for Solstiss.
At Boussac, another French mill, buyers were matching yarn-dyes and prints “for unique looks in the junior market,” said Michel Loubiere, U.S. business manager. Burnouts and wrinkle-free finishes in yarn-dyed constructions were also attracting attention, as were stretch prints.
Blends have been sparking interest in linen.”We have expanded our casual looks quite a bit,” said Yadin Elcon, president of the U.S. division of Libeco-Lagae, a linen specialist from Belgium. These looks included linen with viscose (rayon), wool, Tencel, cotton and Lycra spandex, and crocheted looks that use thick and thin yarns for added texture.
Among buyers strolling the halls, Cara Coniglio, fabric coordinator for Andrea Jovine said she shops the show each season, and always comes away with something new. “I love to find something that blows me away — I always find a surprise,” she said. “At the French company ESF, I found a stretch nylon, cotton and Lycra spandex blend in yarn-dyed stripes and checks. It’s luxurious but practical. It’s something other than what it appears to be because you get the surprise of stretch in a woven. I also liked some of the perforated vinyls at Paulith — done in white with a lacy look.”
Jan Strass, designer for the Nicole Taylor suit collection, was enthusiastic about the show’s offerings: “I’ve been seeing a lot of interesting things in stretch, and the colors are wonderful.” Also of interest were “exquisite laces” and “textured surfaces — for example, I found a wonderful cotton/polyester jacquard pique.”
“The show is inspiring,” said Joel Benedek, president of Shirtworks, a Brooklyn-based manufacturer of ladies shirts. “This used to be a weak show, but I have seen a lot of nice things. I liked Getzner, and the embroideries at Petex.”
Shalini Kumar, a designer of evening couture, offered that European Textile Selection was superior to French mega-event Premiere Vision. “It’s always a zoo there, so it’s difficult for a buyer from a smaller company to get attention.”
Kumar liked the high-end couture silks shown by Italian companies Marco Lagattolla and Serica della Marca, and Groupe Perrin.