NEW YORK — Two themes, Fast and Slow, will be the top trends for fall 2004 knits, according to Sheila-Mary Carruthers, knitwear consultant at Invista. “We’re focusing on the need for clothing that can meet the diverse needs of multifaceted, modern living,” she said.

This story first appeared in the January 13, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Under the Fast theme, she sketched out two key groups, which she called Live it Up and Show Off. The Live it Up group included knit structures that were both engineered and energetic, with an emphasis on function. “They satisfy consumer needs for performance and protection, taking their lead from activewear influences,” she said.

Key yarns in this group included ones from Filati Lane Cervo and Luigi Botto, both with Invista’s T400 stretch fiber — which is similar to polyester — for relaxed stretch, and fine wool yarns, also from Luigi Botto, treated with Teflon.

Show Off reinforced the need for individuality and self-expression. Knits in this group were eclectic and colorful. “It’s not a trend for the timid,” said Carruthers. Fabrics featured mock space-dye effects, exaggerated surfaces and exotic pile fabrics in silk, plus Lycra spandex yarns from Overfil.

In the Slow theme the first group was Be Aware. “It represents a keen awareness of how things feel, their origins and how they function,” Carruthers said. Fabrics in this group included cross-dyed novelty looks and featured unusual fancy yarns to give a handcrafted feel. One example used Cordura nylon for a linen-like appearance and handle, all with enhanced performance, noted Carruthers.

The second group under Slow, Respect Value, highlighted timeless good taste and “attention to detail, coupled with modern ease,” she added. Brushed yarns with spandex “give loft without the weight,” she said. Open and airy fabrics featured techniques such as tuck stitches to enhance this feeling of loft.