LOS ANGELES — Designers and manufacturers shopping the second edition of the GlobalTex trade show here last week sought high quality and sustainable fabrics to give their products an edge in a difficult retail environment.

This story first appeared in the October 20, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The three-day expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center, which ended Oct. 15, and drew 125 exhibitors.

Among them was Pat Taylor, designer of the Ceviche swimwear line in Marina Del Rey, Calif., who looked for printed burnout fabrics, as well as lace and inky blues that would add a fashionable flair to her pieces.

Jonna Jurkovich, designer at Speedwear Designz, a Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.-based company that produces T-shirts and board shorts for surf brands, hunted for different dye processes, novel treatments using silicon and enzyme washes and burnout prints.

“Anything that makes it more special in this economy” is how Jurkovich summarized her buying criteria.

Sustainability was a big selling point for designers such as Selma Macias of Ocean Breeze Fashions in Laguna Beach, Calif. Macias said she hoped to find a wider variety of eco-friendly fabrics, such as fake fur and fake animal skins made of environmentally sustainable materials.

Sheryl Shoemaker scouted for organic cotton, bamboo and hemp for her Los Angeles-based label Zen Outside. Despite a premium in price for such fabrics, she said consumers remain interested in organic product.

“Quality sells,” she said. “If you have quality, people will buy it.”

The sentiment was shared by Ascher Studio Inc., the New York-based company that markets fabrics from Italy. Dan Sassower, Ascher’s sales representative in Los Angeles, said some mainstream companies such as Bebe balked at its prices, which run from $12 to $25 a yard. Even so, Ascher didn’t want to skimp on quality. The company’s offering was inspired by its 1960 collection that was used by French design houses such as Christian Dior, Balenciaga and Grès. Ascher did well with lightweight wool and meshes, including a washed wool displaying alternating sheer and opaque stripes, as well as a linen-rayon blend that was finished to reflect a gold shimmer.

“The trend is toward quality,” Sassower said. “We’re investing money to make that happen.”

Although many designers focused on quality, others continued to be price-sensitive because of the uncertain economy. Fox Fabrics attempted to appeal to both quality and price-conscious buyers with ponte fabrics from Italy and China that could be used to make legging jeans. The Italian version from Inwool cost about $12 a yard, while the fabric from China’s Max Vogue sold for half as much.

Denim fabric specialists developed several ways for designers to save money. Los Angeles’ Global Edge Source offered air tumbling, which softened fabrics for an additional cost of 50 cents a yard. Hindustan Trading Co. Ltd., a full-service textile provider and manufacturer, promoted ozone washes in its facility in China, along with organic cotton denim at $3.50 a yard.

Prints were a prevalent trend. Los Angeles’ Textile Secrets International filled its booth with designers who liked bold prints of leaves and flowers in shades of red, green and purple. London-based Westcott Design Ltd. said buyers liked dots, flowers, and black-and-white geometrics that appeared blurred. Unitex International, a knit fabric provider from Vernon, Calif., received favorable responses for cloths that combined floral prints with dye-resistant treatments and burnout prints.

Texture was also key, as seen in the popularity of jacquard and embellishments.

Turkey’s Semada Textile updated the ubiquitous plaid pattern in a jacquard, and France’s Deveaux offered a double-faced plaid. Sophie Hallette, also from France, displayed a metallic lace embellished with puffs of rabbit fur in collaboration with Saga Furs.

Denim was one area in which GlobalTex tried to differentiate itself from the Los Angeles International Textile Show held two weeks earlier. The show’s organizers changed the dates for GlobalTex’s next edition to March 2 to 4, which is before the Los Angeles International Textile Show is to kick off its three-day run on March 10.


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