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NEW YORK — Textile firms exhibiting at the recent International Fashion Fabric Exhibition said buyers had a taste for stretch fabrics and vintage prints.

The three-day show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, which ended April 20, pulled in about 300 exhibitors from 17 countries. It featured pavilions from China, South Korea and Turkey, and attracted 81 new exhibitors, including 50 based in Asian countries.

However, exhibitors were faced with the question of whether another edition of the IFFE show would be held. Amy Bonomi, a show manager, acknowledged that no fall dates have been set. “A decision has not been made, but we are weighing options,” she said.

Material World, a textile trade show held in Miami Beach that attracts a clientele similar to IFFE, plans to launch a New York edition this fall. The show is scheduled to run at the Javits Center Sept. 28-30. The IFFE show has been a fixture on the New York calendar since 1992.

Colorful retro prints abounded — most notably at Alexander Henry, Robert Kaufman and Michael Miller — while underwater themes and tie-dye looks were also key at many exhibitors. Decorative and embellished looks continued to abound as well as sequined, beaded and embroidered styles. Collections were targeted for the spring-summer 2006 retail season.

Phillip DeLeon, co-owner and designer for Alexander Henry Fabrics in Burbank, Calif., said the range of uses for cotton prints keeps business coming.

The company is hoping to capitalize on the vintage craze with a new line, called Boutique, fusing the bold colors and patterns that came from small London shops during the Sixties with a more contemporary look.

“These were iconic romantic times,” DeLeon said. “So, in that sense, it’s a romantic and modern period for the fashion industry. It’s part of the reason why vintage is still strong.”

Buyers packed the Robert Kaufman Fabrics booth in search of vintage designs, as well.

“Anything with a vintage or retro feel is doing well for us,” said Ron Kaufman, a sales representative with the Half Moon Bay, Calif.-based company. “It’s been that way and it’s going to continue. Contemporary sportswear is the hot thing right now, so we’re catering to that.”

This story first appeared in the May 3, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Sandra Teger, a sales rep with New York-based Michael Miller Fabrics, also saw continued desire for vintage looks, noting that combinations of pink and brown were popular.

The firm displayed a brown-and-pink group of retro looks. One print showed pink Eiffel Towers against a brown ground, while another grouping that showed bright colors on black grounds featured colorful dots, some with prints inside of them.

When it came to silks, Mary Carter, a wholesaler with Exotic Silks in Mountain View, Calif., said buyers were polarized, gravitating either toward floral patterns or retro looks with a distinctly Sixties feel.

“Exciting, fresh spring prints and very pretty florals are doing well,” Carter said. “The hippie-ish kind of thing has also done well. It’s really two extremes.”

The firm’s collection featured underwater, sea-life themes, such as a silk burnout with coral and ocean plant life as well as floral embroideries on shantung.

Stretch fabrics were other key items on buyers’ lists, making for a strong show for Impala Industries International, which specializes in stretch fabrics.

“Everybody wants two-way stretch in the ladies’ market,” said Robert Shostack, the New York sales manager for United Fabrics International, a Los Angeles-based fabric importer. “For fall, we’re doing a lot of stretch corduroy. Corduroy is back.”

Michael Shapiro, president of D&N Textiles Inc. in Beverly Hills, Calif., said, “Stretch is here to stay because there’s a lot of comfort in it.…I do a lot of sequins. They’re very hot right now. Things with metallics are also big.”

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