PRINTS SAILING ON

Byline: Scott Malone / With contributions from Daniela Gilbert

NEW YORK — Coming off a strong prints season for fabrics, vendors of original artwork for prints reported an increased interest in geometric patterns at the recent Inprints N.Y. show.
Some complained that overall traffic at the event was slow — a common cry for the April edition of the three-times-a-year event — and the slowness led the organizers of Printsource, another print show that typically runs concurrently with Inprints, to hold no show this time around.
But most vendors said that, all things considered, they did as much business as they expected.
Inprints wrapped up its three-day run at Manhattan’s Arno Ristorante on April 27. Fifteen exhibitors representing 50 print designers exhibited.
“It’s been such a strong print season” that apparel and fabric designers are looking to keep their momentum going, said Michelle Farkas, sales associate with Group Four Design. She said that tropical prints were in demand, as well as geometric designs.
She suggested that the rise of geometrics was a logical next step to the recent popularity of polkadots, since they each have a Fifties flavor.
Geometrics also have a “young-at-heart feel” that was in demand from buyers for junior lines, which turned out in force for the event. The geometrics also appeal to apparel lines targeting older customers, she added.
Pinky Wolman, designer for Dollhouse, a junior line, commented that the geometric and retro-looking prints with a Seventies feel were perfect for her customer.
“Anything that’s graphic, either large or small scale, is key for Dollhouse’s market,” she said.
Wolman pointed out European Textile Collection and Groot Design as two studios whose prints she admired. Denim, another junior staple, was stenciled, printed and tie-dyed at Tanuki Studio, another standout according to Wolman.
Mikki Topman, in sales at European Textile Collections, reported an increase in demand for geometrics.
“It’s a change from the dots,” she said. “Everyone’s been doing the dots, and this is something new.”
Audra Chairtam, art director with London Portfolio, said that in addition to geometric prints, translucent fabrics, large stripes and small floral patterns were moving briskly. She suggested the interest in geometrics was part of a return to simplicity.
“After a few seasons of things being decorated,” she said, “now things are getting simpler. Geometrics are a perfect way to do that.”
Laura Vazquez, executive vice president of design and merchandising at Perry Ellis Sportswear, noted, “The movement towards larger-scaled, cleaner prints is novel, but an update from the embellishment we saw in the past.”
Campbell Smith, owner of New World Studios, was one of a few vendors to report an increase in demand for prints designed using photographic techniques. He attributed this rise to recent improvements in fabric-printing technology.
Overall, exhibitors complained that after the first day, traffic fell off.
Massimo Iacoboni, the designer with World Studio who organizes the Print Source show, typically held at the Parsons School of Design, said his organization had decided to no longer hold an April edition because of the typically slow traffic.
“We tried for a couple of years,” he said. “It didn’t work very well for us at all.”
Printsource will continue to hold January and August events, he noted.
“It’s sort of a funny little show here,” said Group Four’s Farkas. “The first day was strong, but since then, it’s been up and down.”
Inprints organizer Eileen Mislove acknowledged that the first day was the busiest, but contended that there “was a lot of purchasing” on that day, making the overall show worthwhile for exhibitors.
She said that Inprints remains committed to running three times a year.
“It’s really important that we have that market contact of the three shows,” she said.