HOMEY, AGED LOOKS SEEN AS KEY

Byline: Katherine Bowers

LOS ANGELES — Craftsy, patina, homespun, worn-in and heirloom fabrics are expected to be key trends at next week’s Los Angeles International Textile Show.
While the show is formally supposed to be a market for spring 2003 fabrics, the accelerating fashion cycle — which has some apparel makers scrambling for immediate deliveries as retailers try to rebuild inventories — means that the trends on view at the CaliforniaMart will likely also play a role in this summer’s and fall’s merchandise as well.
Darra Baker, West Coast and Hawaii director for trend firm Promostyl, described the current trend in fabric as “about deliberately aging fabrics to give them a worn feel, to add luster or a patina. It’s about giving the fabric a bit of soul…It’s the complete opposite of the rock-star ostentation of recent seasons.”
Robert Mojica, president of the embellishment division of J.B. Enterprise said his line is paradoxically “futuristic, yet vintage. Kind of Mad Max-esque with worn fabrics that are kind of tattered.”
The Vernon, Calif. based-converter is doing well with fabrics embellished with antiqued grommets and suede embellished with flowers that mimic hand-painting.
Because junior manufacturers are increasingly selling belts with bottoms, J.B. Enterprise recently developed a suede and faux leather stock program for quick-turn belts.
“Last season, chain belts were strong,” Mojica said. “This year people are wanting suede or fabric, with beads or charms hanging off.”
Textile designer Michael Meltsner, whose San Francisco-based art firm Foliage sells to the junior market, also sees interest in fabrics with a roughed-up appearance and strong, visual texture.
“It used to be [textile artists] would sell a nice little painting and that was it,” Meltsner said. “But now we’re incorporating many elements: embroideries, trim and so forth.”
Another trend, the Latina peasant craze, will broaden into an overall Bohemian sensibility, several exhibitors contended.
“We’re moving into ‘Joni Mitchell living in Laurel Canyon’ looks,” explained Nicole DeLeon, designer for Burbank, Calif.-based converter Alexander Henry Fabrics. “It’s peasant, but done from an African-safari point of view in shades like camel, indigo, olive and paprika.”
Many credited renewed interest in safari looks to Tom Ford’s spring Talitha Getty-inspired collection for YSL Rive Gauche.
“Animal prints are starting up again,” said Bernie Gardner, chief executive of local stretch-fabrics importer Impala Industries International.
Linens are piquing new interest after several lean seasons. To capitalize on the new demand, Farmingdale, N.Y.-based Yitco Textile is importing “soft, casual, washed-down” linen blends from Russia, according to owner Zaher Yaqubei.
“This year looks better on linen,” Yaqubei said, though he felt the dearth of suppliers was as much the reason for an improved linen business as the fashion cycle. “A lot of companies stopped importing it. So the supply is a little soft and the economy is getting stronger.”
The yen for craftsy, globally diverse looks also translates to trimmings.
Susan Heller, owner of Zia River, a Bayfield, Colo.-based button manufacturer, said the company’s January acquisition of button importer, Blue Moon Button Art, was fortuitous in a market hungry for craftsy pieces.
Zia River will show carved wood buttons from Nepal, recycled glass buttons from Ghana as well as buttons made of shell, antler and leather.
“People are wanting something real: warmth, color, texture, nature,” she said.

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