LOS ANGELES — Textile vendors are grappling with lingering uncertainty over Chinese quotas and escalating energy prices as they prepare for the Los Angeles International Textile Show to be held Oct. 17-19 at the California Market Center.

Although World Trade Organization countries eliminated global apparel and textile quotas on Jan. 1, the U.S. has limited imports from China through safeguard quotas on a range of products while continuing to negotiate toward a more stable agreement. What’s more, high prices for electricity, gasoline and natural gas are forcing some companies to choose between raising their fees or cutting profit margins.

“It’s tough out there,” said Brian Weitman, chief executive officer of Security Textiles Corp., a local provider of full-package garment production and maker of pocket linings, shoulder pads and bra cups.

Weitman said over the past year he has raised prices on petroleum-based fibers three times and that the cost of operating a five-truck fleet to make local deliveries increased by 60 percent. For diversification, Security Textiles will act as the exclusive West Coast supplier of ring-spun denim manufactured in Tunisia under the Swift Europe brand.

To offset the decline in apparel, vendors such as Noveltex Inc. are increasing sales to manufacturers of curtains, bedding and other home products. Lucy Mendoza, a sales representative for the linen supplier, said the company also must innovate in order to reverse a 40 percent decline in overall sales. Rather than waiting for the twice-yearly trade shows to introduce new prints, Noveltex creates new designs every three months. Mendoza said Noveltex increased the number of prints 12 times to more than 200.

Bernie Gardner, ceo of stock house Impala Industries, will be promoting bamboo fabric at the show. Eager to attract customers with more than 300 prints and a policy of taking orders as low as 10 yards, Gardner said he cut prices 10 to 15 percent over the last year.

“The only way you can make up for it is volume,” said Gardner.

This story first appeared in the October 11, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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