WORRY IN THE AIR AT CPD FABRICS
Byline: Melissa Drier
DUSSELDORF — The mood was reserved at Germany’s preview CPD Fabrics fair, as textile producers braced themselves for a spring 2002 season they said will be anything but easy.
Exhibiting executives cited obstacles including price pressure in the European market, delivery problems throughout the entire textile chain, lack of newness and overall fashion excitement, oversupply, cautiousness on the part of manufacturers due to lackluster retail performance and a far too-crowded trade show schedule.
Not that any manufacturers were ready to throw in the towel — at CPD Fabrics or elsewhere. The Igedo Co., organizers of CPD Fabrics and the parallel women’s mega-fair CPD, said 80 percent of the 120 exhibitors from 15 countries participating in the event indicated that they’d be back in August for the next show. As for their increasingly difficult business conditions, manufacturers aired their concerns but were also pragmatically resigned.
“Other industries don’t have it any easier,” one German fabric maker remarked. “There’s price pressure and concentration everywhere.”
The two-day fabric fair, which closed its third edition here Feb. 6, attracted 3,300 visitors. That was an increase of 38 percent from the first staging of the show in February 2000, and on par with the August edition.
Chori Italia, the Milan-based division of a Japanese textile company, was among the new exhibitors in Dusseldorf.
“The fair’s very interesting. We visited last year to see if [the show] was functional, and it seems to be picking up,” president N. Paul Yamagata said. “Traffic the first day was very, very busy.”
Chori is focusing its European efforts on microfibers, particularly its Morfino range. In addition, the company is developing crepe suit-weight fabrics with a linen touch, which he expects to be important for spring-summer 2002 and dry-handed triacetate and polyester fabrics.
“We’re doing a lot with these in the U.S.+and we’re now trying to sell them in Europe,” he said.
But compared to the U.S., he added, Europe is far more price conscious.
“When I came to Europe in 1993, [apparel makers] didn’t care about price. But these days, Americans are paying slightly more than the Europeans in the high-end market. Europe is still very dull,” he said.
Daniele Roncoroni, a director of Como, Italy-based Ones, predicted natural fibers would star for next spring-summer.
“Classic clothes are coming back, even a little bit preppy, and people are first of all looking for classic fabrics and shirtings, and perhaps some nice prints,” he said. “There’ll be a lot of cotton used, either pure or with silk, polyamide or linen. And silk looks strong again.”
Manufacturers are also looking for new ideas, “but you don’t find a big energy here like in Spain.
At the German weaver Rummeny Collection, based in Aachen, sales director Hans-Georg Grauert described the overall mood as “bad. It’s not good.”
He said price was in the foreground, “unless you have something the others don’t have, but that doesn’t exist. At this point, everyone can make everything.”
He noted that retailers “weren’t satisfied, and consequently the apparel manufacturers aren’t satisfied.
“There’s been a concentration at retail, a concentration of [apparel] resources, and the resources are dropping their suppliers,” he declared. “But at the same time, there’s just too many suppliers on practically all sides.”
However, that surfeit of suppliers does not extend to the yarn world, Grauert said.
“We, as weavers, are facing a big problem that there are fewer and fewer yarn suppliers, and those that remain don’t have all the colors and yarns available,” he said. “Their delivery cycles are long, and so we’re forced to rearrange our timing and push back our cycle. And that in a period where you can only succeed by being flexible.”
Rummeny was at the fair for the first time and found that customers weren’t really prepared to concentrate on fabrics for the new season.
“Manufacturers are in Dusseldorf and at CPD primarily to sell their collections. That’s their priority, and they don’t have the head for spring-summer,” he said. “Designers told us ‘Leave us in peace,’ and all they could manage was a rough overview of spring-summer.”
Stefan Bauschke, the German representative for Lanificio Alma, Moda Style and Nuova-Ri-Vera, echoed these sentiments. Like many exhibitors in Dusseldorf, he was also preparing to be in Munich the next day for the Fabric Start show. He said he sees almost the same customers in Munich as in Dusseldorf, “but here they just waltz by. This is just an accompaniment or side effect of CPD.”
However, it is precisely that aspect that makes CPD Fabrics interesting for Lanificio Luigi Zanieri, of Prato.
“We’re not only interested in showing our fabrics, but also at looking at the garments our customer have made with our fabrics. We’ve seen our fabrics in many stands and windows and we’re very satisfied,” she said. “Germany is the best market in Europe,” she added, “because the volume of business in Germany is good, and the customers are serious and financially stable.”