Byline: Michael McNamara

NEW YORK — Price was a hot topic at the opening day of the International Fashion Fabric Exhibition here Monday.
Apparel manufacturers shopping the show were wondering when their fabric resources might start raising prices, while exhibitors continued to complain about the increased raw materials costs they were absorbing.
“I understand the price of cotton is skyrocketing, but that doesn’t mean my customers want it any less,” said Tim Spyron, owner of Spyron’s Things, an apparel manufacturer in Vancouver, British Columbia, shopping the show for cotton and linen fabrics. “I hope they don’t start raising prices on fabrics too soon, because my customers aren’t going to want to pay more for them.”
“Price and minimum orders seem to be everyone’s num-
ber one concern,” said exhibitor Ed Albrecht, president and director of merchandising at Texollini, Carson, Calif., a manufacturer of knit fabrics. “Business is very difficult. We’re getting squeezed, and we haven’t really been able to pass prices along. But it may have to happen.”
The show, which runs through Wednesday at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, has buyers shopping for fabrics for spring-summer 1996 apparel.
Cotton knits and prints ranked high on their lists. Knits and wovens of linen, polyester and nylon were other favorites.
Spryon, for example, said he was searching for novelty cotton knits and for a group of men’s and women’s sweaters and had already sampled a collection of printed cottons from Cranston Print Works, for use in children’s pajamas.
Spyron also said he was eyeing some linen or linen-blended fabrics “because linen in Canada right now is very, very hot.”
“I’m looking for cotton and nylon prints, for a line of children’s wear,” said Deborah Kirsh, buyer for Little Ones, a Columbus, Ohio, manufacturer. Kirsh was also on hand to exhibit at the International Kids Fashion Show, which is also going on at the Javits Center.
Kirsh said she was planning on sampling fabrics from Pressman-Gutman, Galey & Lord and Men Yi Corp., a Taiwan fabric supplier.
Exhibitors reported that while traffic Monday was slow during the morning, it had picked up considerably by midday. Jonathan Larkin, president of The Larkin Group, the show’s sponsor, predicted that first-day attendance would hit about 2,500, up from the 2,200 attending the opening day of the last IFFE, in October.
However, some exhibitors, while satisfied with early buyer traffic, were disappointed in the quality of buyers.
One exhibitor said, “If I hear one more, ‘What’s the minimum order?’ question, I’m going to scream.”
More upbeat was Albrecht of Texollini on its first time at IFFE: “For us, it’s good to be here to meet some new people and show ourselves. But we haven’t seen any real heavy-hitting companies yet. So, from that standpoint, the jury is still out on this show.”
Meanwhile, the current headlines about crime and union corruption at the Javits Center didn’t seem to faze longtime exhibitors, many of whom said they have never encountered any problems from the union when it comes to setting up or dismantling their booths.
“As textile exhibitors, we’ve been able to, basically, bring in anything and set up ourselves, because our [swatches] are small,” said Pearl Ann Marco, principal of de Marco California Fabrics, which been an exhibitor at every edition of the IFFE.
“It’s always been relatively easy for us showing here,” said Mark Shelton, vice president of JS Linens, a division of Shamash & Sons. “The Larkins do a good job of making sure everything runs pretty smoothly.”
“This is our first-ever show, and we knew nothing about a union problem,” said Rimantas Prapiestis, a representative for Cukurova Sanayi Islemeleri, a Turkish fabric supplier. “We come here, we exhibit and the Larkins take care of things for us.”