LOS ANGELES — A slowing economy and looming competition from a new trade show took a toll on last week’s Los Angeles International Textile show.

This story first appeared in the April 21, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The expo, held here at the California Market Center from April 14 to 16, attracted about 225 exhibitors, compared with past years’ rosters that numbered between 230 and 240 companies. The show’s organizers declined to disclose the number of attendees.

Among the designers shopping the show were Kevan Hall, Gregory Parkinson, Whitley Kros’ Marissa Ribisi, Shawn Kaleka from Costume Dept., Petro Zillia’s Nony Tochterman and Agave Denim’s Jeff Shaffer.

While Parkinson sought lightweight printed jersey, Kaleka gravitated toward heavy embellishments such as sequins and metallic mesh. Shaffer said he was looking for Supima cotton knits to cut into men’s tops for Agave.

The trends highlighted at the expo mirrored those of past seasons, including bright colors, novel treatments and less expensive goods.

Simona B., a trim maker from Capri, Italy, did well with its ribbons twisted into origami-like pleats, glass stones covered with netting and acrylic stones tinted red, purple and green. Los Angeles-based Hushco Buttons said customers were willing to pay a 50 percent premium on recycled aluminum buttons because of the eco-friendly angle and the ability to achieve a patina from an anodized process that wouldn’t be possible with brass or steel.

The recession weighed heavily on designers’ strategies for buying fabrics. As retailers have been delaying orders for clothes, manufacturers have turned to textile manufacturers for fabrics that are in stock. Bobby Omrany, a representative at California Group, a provider of sublimated cloths in Vernon, Calif., said the challenge is to make investments in inventory without the benefit of many repeat orders.

“It’s not easy,” he said.

Designers aimed for the appearance of luxury by opting for lower-priced blends and fake leather. New York’s Slim Silk said its silk and cotton blend fabric printed with oversize polkadots in citrus tints did well at $9.95 a yard. U.S. Silk Inc. received inquiries about its silk blended with Tencel, polyester, rayon or bamboo, all of which cost at least 10 to 25 percent less than pure silk. Seoul-based Woowon UMF Co. appealed to customers with fake leather resembling tree bark, priced at $8.50 a yard.

Dots and stripes were also popular for New York’s Michael Miller and Fabri-Quilt Inc., based in North Kansas City, Mo. Fabri-Quilt found takers for its Twenties-inspired print of tiny blue dots alternating with red rectangles.

Maruwa, a Japanese purveyor of yarn-dyed cotton weaves, made its debut at the show with the hopes of picking up new customers from California. Its most popular styles included double gauze on cotton that featured different plaid patterns on each side, chambray and cotton gauze woven with polyurethane to yield a slight stretch and a crinkled look. Prices run from $7 to $9 a yard.

Even delicate lace wasn’t spared of novel touches. England’s Alan Litman found a following for huge floral outlines on cotton and nylon lace, pink flowers edged in black thread and gold glitter on black lace.

“You have to dress it up so that it has perceived value,” said Ben Amendolara, a representative for Alan Litman.

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