Byline: Margaret Mazzaraco

NEW YORK — Active sampling marked the seventh edition of the International Fashion Fabric Exhibition here last week.
Exhibitors noted they were getting a play from overseas buyers as well as U.S. firms, although, as expected, the devalued peso cut into the Mexican contingent that is usually fairly prominent at the show.
Shimmer, shine, texture and floral prints were some of the ideas that drew attention, as manufacturers shopped the trends for next year’s spring-summer apparel.
The three-day showcase of fabrics, trimmings and services concluded Wednesday at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. It was the largest show to date for the twice-yearly IFFE, with 450 exhibitors, against 380 at the last event in October. There were 9,000 visitors, up 12 percent from the October show, which drew 8,000, according to The Larkin Group, the show producer.
Price was also a key topic at the show, with many buyers anxious about when the rising costs of raw materials would be reflected in what they pay for their fabrics.
There was no doubt that fabric suppliers were getting edgy, but as yet many have been reluctant to pass those costs on aggressively. The concerns, however, did not seem to affect the general atmosphere of the show, which, according to most accounts, was a bustling affair.
In this version, IFFE drew DuPont and Monsanto, both exhibiting for the first time. Numerous converters and mills also signed on for their debuts, including Ge-Ray Fabrics, Symphony Fabrics, Carna Mills, Originit, Acker & Jablow, Fabrictex, Tricot Liesse, Texollini, Hi-Fashion Fabrics and Hampton Printworks.
“Traffic is unbelievably good,” said Jeff McGuire, brand manager of Micromattique at DuPont. Although he noted there were many freelance people and “almost cottage-industry types” walking the show, there were also “a lot of high-quality manufacturers.”
“People can’t seem to get enough information on our various products and the people who make those products,” McGuire said. In the spacious booth were more than 200 fabrics featuring Micromattique, Supplex and Tactel with or without Lycra spandex, and cotton and Lycra fabrics.
“We’ve had an increased interest in prints, which is a surprise, and interest in fabrics with surface texture.” McGuire noted.
At Monsanto, Christine Whittemore, outerwear marketing manager, was also enthusiastic about traffic. Being at the show, she said, “gives us an opportunity to better understand the marketplace and identify manufacturers who are and are not using Acrilan acrylic, and share some of the exciting things our customers are doing.”
“Traffic was pretty slow the first day, but it really picked up after that,” said Ed Albrecht, director of merchandising for Texollini, a knitter based in Carson, Calif. Albrecht noted that cotton and Lycra spaced florals and solid jerseys sold well, along with tie-dye prints in the same blend.
“The quality of traffic is excellent, and we’re going to continue our participation,” he said.
At Ge-Ray Fabrics, Dick Davis, merchandise director, showed products from Knit Dimension, the firm’s new better knit division .
“There’s a lot of interest in Supplex microdenier nylon with Lycra and Tactel with Lycra as jerseys, and a huge interest in stretch velours and velvet,” said Davis. He said he met substantial accounts from Europe and South America and various spots in the U.S., such as Kentucky and Oklahoma as well as California.
“We’re definitely coming back to the show, because it’s worth it,” said Davis.
Fabrictex, a knit firm specializing in swimwear and in high tech knits, did well with dimensional white Tactel and nylon swimwear fabrics, including piquA textures, in solids or with polkadots or stripes, according to Vivie DePortu, assistant fabric designer.
“We’ve been quite busy, and we’ve seen a lot of Europeans, South Americans and quite a number of Canadians,” she said.
Fabrics getting attention at Miroglio Textiles USA featured such ideas as sheen, and spaced florals and butterfly prints on spun rayon high-twist crepe with black or bright grounds, representatives there said. These also had a washed look.
At Libeco Inc., shine, tweed looks and surface-interest fabrics with new finishes were getting a good reaction, with buyers looking for new blends and colors, according to Yadin Elcon, president. The finishes included high calendaring and a new soft finish. He added that shiny Lurex blends with linen were doing especially well. The tweeds were in soft mauve pastels, a stronger berry with maize and natural, or in brights such as fuchsia and gold.
Patrick Lagae, president of Lagae Linens, Meulebeke, Belgium, said dobbies and crepe novelties, such as a box check, did well. “Buyers are going for light pastels and moving from natural colors,” he said.
Many buyers came to the show with definite sampling lists.
“I’m looking for novelty prints and texture in a good base cloth that is cool looking in a rayon/linen blend,” said Anya Senoret, designer-owner of Anya & Co., here, a special occasion suit firm.
She noted that among her picks were a rayon and viscose linen look and a textured stripe with a touch of shine for spectator looks, both from Miroglio.
“I liked some of the polyurethanes for spring,” said Gayle Schwartz, designer of Alorna Coat Corp., here, a misses’ and junior coat manufacturer, who found them at Gem Urethane Corp.
Ellen Lieberman and David Johnson, designers of Guess Knitwear, were searching for new offshore resources and found some, according to Lieberman, including a Taiwan company. Added Johnson, “We found a few knits and a few nifty trims and treatments we hadn’t expected to see.”
Miranda Bloch, fabric coordinator of T.F.G. Manufacturing (PTY) Ltd., Cape Town, South Africa, which operates the Foschini stores in that country, said the show was “excellent.” She said she found the fashion trend seminars — conducted by The Doneger Group and Promostyle U.S.A. — especially worthwhile.
Among her samplings was a Lurex blend sheer for junior sportswear at Princess Fabrics.
“I also bought a sherpa from an Italian mill and some textured denim from a Hong Kong mill,” Bloch said. “Other choices were from Carna Mills, Tandler Textile, Symphony Fabrics, Hi-Fashion Fabrics and Westwood, and some from Taiwan because it gives us a broader spectrum and new leads to follow.
“I ordered sample cuts to show my buyers. We’re a vertical operation with a retail chain of 300 stores, and part of our merchandise is done by our own in-house manufacturing.”
Looking ahead to further expand the fall 1996 IFFE show, scheduled for Oct. 16-18, Jonathan Larkin, president of The Larkin Group, said he’s starting yarn, leather supply and art studio sections.
“We did a mailing last week [for exhibitors for these new sections] and have gotten some good responses,” he said.