NEW YORK — Textile manufacturers exhibiting at three trade shows here over the last two weeks reported steady interest from buyers looking to add the latest innovations and designs to their collections.
Designers were on the hunt for innovative fabrics and inspiration for spring 2007 at Première Vision’s European Preview New York. The show, which ended its two-day run on Thursday, took place at The Metropolitan Pavilion and served as a textile workshop for vendors to meet with designers to prepare for the spring-summer 2007 selling season.
Just walking in and checking out the fabric forum located near the entrance, designer Tory Burch was browsing through the key fabric samples of the season.
“I want my spring collection to be more subtle than what we usually do in the fall,” she said. “But there still has to be a great deal of novelty and texture in the fabrics I use. That’s very important to my collection.”
Burch said she was particularly attracted to the eyelets and roughed ruffles with embroidery. She likes fabrics with some shine to them and, of course, bold prints.
“I tend to work really far in advance,” Burch said. “I’m done with my spring boards already, so I am pretty certain as to what the spring line will look like. I also get my fabrics specially made and woven from scratch because its very important for me to have them washed correctly with an organic feel.”
Overall, vendors felt that this show brought in less traffic, but they were still able to do good business.
“It is slower than it usually is, but then again, the show is a lot earlier this time,” said Gilles Amsallem, director of fabric development and sales for the U.S. market at Marc Rozier, a 110-year-old French mill. “I think there are just too many things happening in the city at the same time.”
Amsallem said most designers were looking for immediates for fall to finish off their collections before entering spring-summer. He said he is still booking well with novelty silks such as bold prints or flocking in subtle colors, rather than the popular brights from last spring.
“Even when we do basic, it’s not the traditional basic,” he said, pointing to a silk swatch accented with flocked polkadots. “Each fabric has to bring something new and innovative to the customer or else they don’t want to see it.”
Mario Melchisedecco, designer at Luigi Boggio Casero, an Italian mill, agreed the show wasn’t as busy as usual.
“But we still had the chance to meet with the clients we came here to meet with,” Melchisedecco said.
He said that, for spring, designers were looking for Sixties-inspired fabrics such as cotton sateen with bold stripes. He also was doing well with rich fabrics, such as summer-weight tweed and heavy cotton made with texture and breathability.
“This is my first look at what’s in development so I can come up with a common direction for the season,” said designer Douglas Hannant, noting that he also was still putting the finishing touches on fall. “I love a lot of what I see so far. I love designing spring. It’s probably my favorite season. I love the soft colors, the tulle with embroidery. I just think it’s dangerous to think too far ahead. It’s good to get some ideas, but I try not to cement them in my head at this show.”
At the Turkish Fashion Fabric Exhibition, which ran Jan. 17-18 at the Grand Hyatt hotel, Turkish textile mills sought to present themselves as the new Italy in terms of quality and design innovation.
“We are at that level already, but we have to keep improving,” said Ahmet Oksuz, a board member on the Istanbul Textile & Apparel Exporter’s Association committee, an organization of 28,000 manufacturers that organizes the event. “Turkey is not a cheap country anymore to produce. We have to be different to survive.”
Many exhibitors at the event have enlisted the help of Italian consultants to achieve the one-of-a-kind designs they believe will be crucial to ensuring their survival in the face of mounting competition from the likes of China and India.
Aykut Burak Celikkanat, director of product development for Akurun Tekstil, said the company works with two freelance Italian design consultants to produce its collection.
“We are trying to do something different by working with the Italian designers,” said Celikkanat.
Esat Haksal, director of sales and marketing with Akin Tekstil, said a constant cycle of new product introductions is the key to survival for Turkish mills. Akin produces two collections a year, each consisting of about 200 new items, according to Haksal. Again, to feed the market’s constant need for newness, Akin has turned to the Italians.
“We have two Italian design teams, one for sportswear and one for classic wear,” said Haksal, who believes 2006 will present more challenges for the Turkish textile industry. “It will be harder than 2005. That’s why we’re creating new fabrics, new novelties.”
The U.S. market also represents the biggest growth opportunity for Turkish mills. Oksuz said Turkey does 80 percent of its textiles business with European countries, and only 20 percent with the U.S.
“[The mills] are focused on sales, marketing and product development,” Oksuz said. “They all know they need to develop each of these things.”
Establishing a full-time presence in the U.S. is another key to success that Oksuz and others stressed.
“They have to establish a contact here, an office so they can follow up,” he said. “Then, the success comes if you do things well.”
Sal Yucel, a sales representative with Serdo Woven Mill, agreed that mills could not rely on the show alone if they wanted to make significant inroads in the U.S. market.
“It’s not about going to the show and then going back to Turkey,” Yucel said. “That formula doesn’t work. You’ve got to have an existence here.”
Akurun Tekstil’s Celikkanat said the show was also an opportunity to reach smaller players in the apparel industry.
“Most of the big brands have offices in Turkey, so at this fair we have a chance to meet people who don’t have access to our market,” said Celikkanat.
Satisfying the demand of the U.S. market is another hurdle, due to the large size of orders and competitive pricing environment.
“Orders are very large. There is much variation demanded, but smaller quantities of each style,” said Figen Ozsoy, vice president of sales and marketing for Akurun. “They’re ordering a lot, but not risking on one style. Every month they need to see new ideas.”
At Innovation Asia, 24 vendors showcased their new fabrics. Finishing its three-day run on Thursday, vendors said the show brought in a lot of traffic and they were pleased with the results.
Yoshi Asami, a textile engineer at Katsu Kawasaki’s New York office, said his new line of organic cotton mixed with Tencel was getting a great reaction from customers.
“It’s very unique and we are in very close touch with the cotton growers in Texas, so we know it is organically grown,” Asami said.
In order to make sure the fabric is wrinkle free, the company makes a blend that is 35 percent organic cotton and 65 percent polyester.
“It’s very important for our customers to have easy-care fabrics, but they also want organic,” he said. “So we are working on making it more cotton and less poly.”
Also expressing the importance of easy-care fabrics, Mozart Tseng, president of the Jiangsu, China-based Mozartex Co. Ltd., said he was selling his Tencel fabrics at a fast rate.
“Everyone wants Tencel, it works so well,” he said.