AUSSIE COTTON UPDATE: Things are looking up down under. Rains have eased the drought that has gripped Australia, especially in the country’s cotton-growing regions of New South Wales and Queensland, and has given the cotton crop its best season start in five years.
Industry leaders said rainfall for the early part of November varied from three-quarters of an inch to two inches, providing a boost to cotton germination (the majority of the crop has already been planted), although in some areas scattered hail has damaged young planting.
The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics said although the total area sown for cotton will climb from 209,000 hectares last year to 226,000 this season (one hectare equals 100 square acres), production will ease back some 92,000 bales to slightly fewer than 1.4 million bales, because river flows and dam supplies are at extremely low levels. One bale equals 480 pounds. Despite the rains, growers here maintain that drought conditions are far from over, noting that it will take a steady rain through December to help the situation.

POLITICS AND FABRICS: Jack Pickler, first vice president and senior textile and apparel analyst at Prudential Securities; Steven Kernkraut, managing director at Bear Stearns, and William Wollman, chief economist at Business Week, will be the featured speakers at the Knitted Textile Association’s 1996 financial forecast seminar. The meeting, called, “Politics and its Ripple Effect on the Textile Economy,” is slated for 8 a.m., Jan. 16, at New York’s Butler’s Restaurant. Reservations are required and can be made through the KTA’s New York office.

USLENGHI’S SHINY FORECAST: Shiny and textured fabrics — and blends of natural fibers with polyester or nylon — are among top trends for spring/summer 1997, said Angelo Uslenghi, a consultant for Moda In, the Italian fair that showcases mid to high-end fabrics and accessories. Speaking at a fair preview in Milan last month, Uslenghi said mills are working the full color palette into their collections with deep sea shades, sun-drenched tones, muted hues and neon brights. Textures will have an underwater feel with shiny or rubbery finishes made from neoprene and nylon, said Uslenghi.
“There will be very little retro, the collections will be very modern,” said Uslenghi “We are going to see a lot of double-faced and stretch fabrics as well as fiber mixes: nylon or polyester blends for poplin and gabardine looks.” The 25th edition of the fair will take place at Milan’s fairgrounds March 4-6.

COVERING COATS: The outlook for the fall-winter 1996-97 wool coat market will be the focus of a month-long series of presentations at the New York offices of the Wool Bureau, the North American branch of the International Wool Secretariat.
As part of the preview, two Wool Bureau executives, Verna Bowan, women’s wear merchandiser, and Donna Locascio, fabric sourcing manager, are discussing the seasons’ color and styling direction and the sourcing of fabrics, as well as reviewing the coat market at retail and consumer purchasing patterns and trends.
The presentations, which began Monday, run through Jan. 12. Reservations are required and can be made through the Wool Bureau’s office.

JOHNSTON ON THE MOVE: A couple of changes are in the works at Johnston Industries.
The diversified textile maker said it had agreed to acquire T.J. Beall Co., West Point, Ga., a re-ginner of cotton. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
At the same time, Johnston also named Gerald B. Andrews chief executive officer. Andrews succeeds David Chandler, who will continue to serve as chairman.
Beall’s prime business activity is the recycling of gin motes, or nonperishable shorter fibers separated from cotton during the ginning process. The re-ginned motes are collected in a baling press and sold to the spinning trade for yarn production and related applications. Johnston said the 60-plus-year-old T.J. Beall will become part of its Wellington Sears subsidiary, a major user and recycler of textile by-products. The deal is expected to be finalized early next year.
Andrews, 58, who will continue as president and chief operating officer, joined Johnston in 1992 after 38 years at WestPoint Pepperell (now WestPoint Stevens), where he rose to vice president, merchandising.

FOLIO LIVES: Folio Impressions Inc., one of the printed apparel fabrics industry’s most diverse and innovative firms, is alive and well. Contrary to erroneous industry reports, its parent company Sunkyong America, a $1.8 billion importer and exporter, has restructured Folio, which continues to produce and sell its line of original printed fabrics. Folio Impressions is now located at 1385 Broadway in New York.

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