ASIAN YARN FAIR FRAY

Byline: Betsy May Veloo

HONG KONG — Novelty yarns — metallic, printed, velvet and other treatments — topped buyers’ shopping lists in a battle of two European-sponsored yarn fairs held here recently.
Filasia, a new venture that ended its three-day stint Aug. 28 at the Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Center, was jointly organized by France’s Expofil and Italy’s Filo.
A few days later, the third annual Interyarn opened at the Hong Kong International & Trade Exhibition Center. Running Sept. 3-5, it was sponsored by Germany’s Messe Frankfurt.
According to the organizers, Filasia had 101 exhibitors and drew 2,608 visitors. Interyarn counted 97 exhibitors, compared with 89 a year ago, and 2,292 visitors, against 2,255 in 1996.
Although the closeness of the shows upset some exhibitors, buyers turned out to look for fancy and unusual yarns to jazz up their collections.
“Fancy yarns will definitely be the trend for the next two years at least,” said Faruk Caglar, marketing manager of AKSU of Turkey, a yarn and fabrics company. Caglar was shopping at Filasia for products not produced in his country, such as chenille. While some buyers complained they didn’t find the variety they expected at the show, Caglar’s judgment was that “the exhibition is good” — so good, he noted, that he intends to exhibit at next year’s Filasia.
Vandana Bhandari, a knitwear designer at India’s National Institute of Fashion, noted she was seeing a lot of Tencel-blended yarns and predicted, “This will take off in a big way.”
Chunky yarns were cited as coming back.
“Especially in Japan and the United States, there is certainly more of a trend toward the heavier side,” said Peter Brauer, group export director of Forsell & Littleton Spinning Group of England, which was exhibiting at Filasia.
Shape retention for sweaters was another topic of conversation, according to Kin Mak, regional manager for ready-to-wear for DuPont, who noted that Lycra spandex was getting a strong play in Europe, the U.S. and Asia. “People are finding that Lycra adds lots of retention, and shape retention is a big thing,” said the DuPont executive.
Among those shopping at Interyarn was Sheree Lee, design director at Tropix Tex International, New York, who noted she was “absolutely happy” with what she was seeing at the exhibition.
Faced with the closeness of the two shows, however, some exhibitors petitioned organizers to cooperate and hold their fairs at the same time and in the same location. Otherwise, they warned, they will boycott next year’s exhibitions.
“The appearance of Filasia could reduce the number of potential visitors [at Interyarn],” said Francesco Lucchesi, an executive with Industria Italiana Filati of Italy, which has shown at all three Interyarn fairs. “We are signing petitions now and sending them off to France and Germany, and if there is no agreement [to host the shows together], some of us will come to Hong Kong ourselves and display in a hotel. We are discussing it at the moment.”
“I am not happy,” said Hans Hamers, general manager of Friga of Germany, at its second Interyarn. “Next year, I will come back here myself and go straight to my customers.”
Katy Lam, trade fair manager for Messe Frankfurt, acknowledged the competing fairs were a cause for concern.
“It would be a lie if I said there was no effect, because it did create confusion,” said Lam. “Not because visitors were trying to figure out which yarn fair to attend, but because they were confused. We received many faxes asking us why we had changed our dates.”
Philippe Pasquet, secretary general of Expofil, termed Filasia a success because the fair had managed to lure buyers from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and Korea, the people for whom it was aiming. He further noted, “Our objective was to get between 60 and 80 exhibitors, and we had 101. This was beyond our expectations.”

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