PREVIEW: STAPLE LOOKS RULE SPRING ’02

Byline: Daniela Gilbert

NEW YORK — Back to basics.
That’s the word from European fabric mills at the most recent European Preview, held at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Pavilion last week.
Exhibitors departed from the heavily embellished looks of the past two spring seasons. Instead, they showed selections ranging from a variety of plain jerseys, mostly in rayon blends, to fabrics with more natural blends including cotton and silk. Touches of shine were an important feature of many collections.
Jean-Francois Ricat, vice president of product development at Halston, said he was interested in textural looks in linen and cotton. He also noted the importance of geometric florals as well as “heavier-looking” rayon jerseys.
At Bispunt, jerseys were in abundance and doing well, according to Jaume Sauleda, sales manager for the Barcelona-based mill.
“Our jerseys in polyester and spandex have been getting a great response from designers across many markets,” he said. “They’re lightweight, which is so important, and the silky appearance is something buyers have been asking for.”
For designer Randolph Duke, what’s new about jerseys is the finish.
“Any shine is still key going forward,” he said, “and I’ve seen glazes on jersey that look great.”
Shine, a big trend this spring, is expected to continue for the spring 2002 season.
“We’re still getting requests for glitzy looks,” said Gera Gallico, sales manager for Billon Freres & Cie.
At Guigou, owner Sophie Veron noted that shiny is still key. In addition to the shiny rayon jerseys there, a rayon and silk offering was luminous, yet “less stiff thanks to the blend, which accounts for the fabric’s drapability.”
J. Crew’s Amy Peterson, senior director of fabric research, sees shine as “less in-your-face” for spring 2002.
“Little touches of shine are better,” she said, “either in a stripe, for instance or better yet, an overall matte luster.”
A handful of mills were also showing jacquards with iridescent qualities. Bucol showed a brightly colored embossed silk jacquard, while Weisbrod Zuerrer offered a green, blue and yellow silk jacquard with a feather pattern.
Shine was also seen in unusual places. At Bianchini Ferier, an all-silk, denim-style twill was slightly iridescent, while at stretch mill Aiale, a matte shine was applied to a classic seersucker plaid look.
“We’re really focusing on fabrics that have movement,” said Gerri Tobias, U.S. director of sales and marketing.
Stripes, in both prints and jacquards, were offered in a variety of configurations.
At European Stretch Fabrics, they were plentiful in both khaki and pastel combinations, as well as in a warmer, earthier, sandy palette of roses and browns.
“Classic shirting stripes continue to do well for us in Tactel nylon and Lycra spandex combinations,” offered Florence Perkins, U.S. agent for the French mill.
Aude Tabet, fabric director for the Marc By Marc Jacobs line, was looking for “clean-stripe shirtings in 100 percent cotton.”
Stripes were also on display at Bispunt on stretch polyester and nylon grounds, as well as at Sulpice, where a heavy cotton and Lycra spandex blend in red, black and khaki was garnering interest.
Other patterns — in print and jacquard form — included a large floral print at Liberty, a daisy jacquard design at Julien Faure and large-scale plaids on linen at Picchi.
As for color, many of the mills concentrated on neutrals, in khaki, navy, white and black, with touches of hues that included red, blue, green and coral.
J. Crew’s Peterson noted the resurgence of black, as well as the importance of khaki, lighter oranges and pinks and lighter versions of fall’s popular wines, burgundies and reds.
“There is a need for palette cleansing,” agreed Duke. “I’m looking at combining black and other neutrals with a bit of color because spring really is about color, but I feel the tones will be paler.”
Some mills, however, were doing well with brighter tones. At Liberty, Andrew Thatcher, director of fabric and international sales, noted that of all the company’s palettes for the new season, the “candy colors,” were getting the most attention.
Bucol followed suit with a range of very strong colors that included lime green, pink, yellow and aqua.
The second edition of the workshop featured 148 exhibitors, up slightly from the 146 who participated in its fall premiere. Attendance, however, showed a small decline at a little more than 2,800 buyers, down from around 3,000 last time.
Some exhibitors said they feared that it was just too early for some mills to present spring 2002. Daniel Faure, president of show organizer Premiere Vision — which also stages the big Parisian show of that name in March — said that while he understands the concern, changing the dates is simply not an option.
“It will make the time between European Preview and Premiere Vision too short,” he said. “There are many mills that still want to join European Preview so that will be our next challenge: to find a bigger space to accommodate more exhibitors.”
Despite exhibitors’ concerns about timing, buyers remarked that the workshop was a great way for them to preview what’s to come at Premiere Vision.
“Of course, our most important work is done at PV,” said Halston’s Ricat. “But this preview is a great first look for us.”

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