Byline: Michael McNamara

NEW YORK — The International Fashion Fabric Exhibition continues to expand, but for at least the immediate future, it will have to do so without the group endorsement of the Textile Distributors Association.
The TDA, a 165-member group made up mostly of New York-based mills and converters, has decided not to support the show as an organization, based on the findings of a special committee headed, by Westwood Fabrics’ chairman, Howard Olian.
Such support might entail setting up a group exhibition of various TDA members under the association’s banner. However, several TDA members have been regularly showing at the IFFE on an individual basis, and some TDA member exhibitors are thinking about increasing their space.
The sixth edition of the twice-yearly event was held Oct. 18-20 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center here. The most recent stand featured 380 exhibitors and drew about 8,500 buyers — both record numbers.
Olian, who led a delegation that walked through the show on Oct. 19, presented his report to the TDA board at its meeting Nov. 9.
He said the fact that not enough domestic firms exhibit — and that many key personnel from major Seventh Avenue firms don’t attend — played a part in the committee’s decision.
“The show was better than it was last time, but it still doesn’t make sense for the TDA to endorse it as a body,” said Olian. Westwood’s international division, a past exhibitor, will continue to show at IFFE.
Olian said he wasn’t sure whether the TDA would take another look at future editions of the event.
TDA members on Olian’s committee were David Caplan, chief executive officer of Metro Fabrics; Joel Cohn, vice president of Reltex, and Isaac Kier, chairman and chief executive officer of Lida Inc. and chairman of the TDA.
Kier, whose firm exhibited at IFFE for the first time at the recent show, said, “I can understand some of the reasons why the TDA decided not to endorse the show, but I think that an individual company should show if it wants.
“Lida will probably give it another shot at the next show,” added Kier, noting that the company got enough “positive response to try it again.”
Although he was disappointed with the TDA decision, Jonathan Larkin, president of The Larkin Group — the IFFE producer — said the show “will continue to grow.”
Larkin said several of the domestic resources, some of them TDA firms, had expressed interest in increasing their space for the next IFFE, slated for March 20-22.
Cranston Print Works, Milliken and Pressman-Gutman all said they were contemplating doubling their space at the next show, while Majestic said it was increasing its booth space by 50 percent. All are TDA members.
“Individual firms from the TDA continue to invest in our show and are finding it works,” Larkin said. To date, 10 TDA companies exhibit at the IFFE.
As for the SA attendance, Liz Claiborne, Nicole Miller, Donna Karan, Norma Kamali, Danskin and Mast Industries all sent representatives to the show; Nicole Miller herself went.
Pearl Ann Marco, principal of De Marco California Fabrics, said she strongly disagrees with the TDA’s stance.
“We had some very good people that visited our booth [at IFFE],” said Marco. De Marco has shown at all six events.
“I think the association has to reevaluate how it judged the show, because based on the response we got, we wouldn’t ever not go back,” Marco said.

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