PERFORMANCE FABRICS IN PLAY

Byline: Brenda Lloyd

ATLANTA — Performance fabrics, characterized by innovations in easy care and moisture reduction features, led the Fabric Connection area at the Bobbin Show here.
In fact, the winning ensemble in Bobbin’s Design Inspiration fashion show and competition — featuring clothes by student designers — was created with the help of a washable, all-purpose polyester and viscose fabric from Doubletex, used both as a quilted jacket and as unquilted pants. These and other performance fabrics are being used in a multitude of areas, from outdoor wear and swimwear to bodywear and, in the case of Doubletex fabric, fashion sportswear.
With 169 exhibitors, the Fabric Connection also had five more exhibitors this year across 33,450 square feet of convention floor space, versus 32,250 square feet last year.
Most exhibitors in the fabrics area were pleased with show results. Buyers shopping the Fabric Connection said they were looking for a variety of fabrics, including fleece, novelty prints, knits and trims.
“It’s a good show,” said Dale Stewart, vice president of Blue Horse Apparel Inc., Greensboro, Ga., a jeans maker. “They keep expanding the fabric end of the show, which is great. It means I don’t have to go to New York.”
Stewart noted that he found a new knit process at Anderson Knitting Mills that knits a name into the collar of a garment.
Fred Kross, president of Activewear Unlimited Inc., Greenville, Ga., said that he was pleased with the fleece and novelty prints he found at Robert Kaufman Co. and at Regal Fabrics Inc.
Copen Associates, located just outside the gateway to the Fabric Connection, introduced Parras denim to the U.S. market. A pocketing and waistbands supplier based in New York, Copen began representing the 98-year-old Mexican denim mill’s basic and fashion fabrics in the U.S. in April. The denim ranges from 6 1/2-ounce to 14-ounce weights and includes ring spun, Lycra spandex stretch, indigo-dyed, overdyed, yarn-dyed, left-hand twill and various colors. According to Barry Emanuel, president of Copen, Parras denim is being sold to U.S. denim fashion apparel companies and also being used in basics.
Quebec-based Doubletex was showing several performance and fashion fabrics, including Tencel and cotton blends in light and medium weights; Hydroflo, a waterproof, breathable laminate, and H2-Out, featuring a moisture-transport technology. Hydroflo and H2-Out fabrics were the hottest numbers at Doubletex, according to Charles Zuckerman, marketing and merchandising director.
Troy Mills was showing new prints and colors in its base line of fabrics, particularly plaids in brown and other earth tones. Troy offered fabrics in acrylic and polyester blends, all polyester, and wool and polyester for outerwear linings, western wear and casual and workwear jackets, according to Bernt Ruediger, vice president of marketing.
Ruediger said the show was good and that his company picked up new and prospective customers. Putting all the fabrics producers under the one roof of the Fabric Connection has helped, spurring “good interest” in Troy products.
Henry Jordan 2nd, president of Coville Inc., said the show was “excellent” for his company. He also found new customers and met with prospective customers. Coville, which makes circular knits, was showing its new AM/P2 anti-microbial polyolefin technology for swimwear. According to Jordan, “it doesn’t allow odors to reproduce on the surface of the fabric” and also helps prevent yeast infections and rashes.
Coville also introduced its Burly Terry fabric, a cotton and polyester thick fabric, usually brushed, for the sportswear market. It is offered in solids and shadow stripes. Jordan said stripes are becoming more important. In addition Coville introduced a striped, sculptured pattern knit into the surface of Sherpa fabric.
Intex Corp. was showing knits that utilize Cone Mills’ licensed ProSpin fabric, DuPont CoolMax, Wellman’s EcoSpun polyester, made from recycled soda bottles, and Glo-Nite reflective fabrics.
“Performance fabrics are strong, especially golf apparel,” said Garland Holland, account executive for Intex. He said fabrics for hunting apparel are another strong category, growing 20 percent over the past year.

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