BARCELONA — Superlight fabrics, laser treatments, textures and a spring 2017 color palette spanning whites to purple headlined trends at the Denim Première Vision trade show that was held at the Montjuïc exhibition center here last week.
While activewear denim, inspired by yoga pants, has dwindled somewhat the last two seasons, multifunctional and multidirectional fabrics proliferated at the fair.
Despite a slightly lower attendance — with some suggesting the recent terrorist attacks in Paris discouraged many from traveling — exhibitors and buyers said they were pleased with the latest edition. Additional security officers were dispatched at the entrance to check bags and within the fair, while police officers were patrolling outside the show.
Instead of mimicking the yoga pants, the denim market is finding new and more subtle ways to accompany the body in motion, exhibitors said.
Turkish weaver Orta Anadolu launched its bio-kinetic denim using Emana black yarn, shaping the silhouette while stimulating microcirculation, absorbing heat and transforming it into energy. Turkish mill Bossa launched Kapila, an 80 percent elastic, lightweight denim that moderates temperatures thanks to the use of Coolmax, and the MX line, that has high levels of power stretch suitable both for men and women.
Istanbul-based Çalik presented Elastech, a new technology eliminating puckering. By stabilizing the shrinkage of the fabric, the new process also aims to help brands manage their stock inventory as it decreases undesirable size variances through better recovery.
Key trends including jacquards, dobbies and geometric textures, new takes on the flare and stovepipe cuts, and colors including bleached sand, plus tie-dye effects.
Environmental issues and sustainability were widely discussed.
One of the highlights of the edition was a conference on responsible creation and production, dubbed SMART talk. Panelists included Jessica Dorfman, men’s denim designer at Calvin Klein; Jeanologia president Enrique Silla; Artistic Milliners director Omer Ahmed, and Chantal Malingrey, director of Denim PV.
Dorfman noted the many new ways to integrate laser treatments in denim and stressed the importance of more coordination between machinery, operators and designers.
Silla said the consumer is neither willing to pay more for sustainable piece, nor to sacrifice the aesthetics. “Fortunately, the technology is available to produce at the same cost, with the same or even better aesthetics,” he said.
Silla said Jeanologia would soon disclose a new technology called “light PP spray,” an alternative finishing technique processes less dangerous to workers. Until then, “light PP spray” will be shared with Jeanologia’s 200 partners. These firms “that make 40 percent of denim will eradicate the use of potassium permanganate spray this year,” Silla said.
Silla also praised Çalik Denim’s Oxygene, a fabric that can be treated more quickly than traditional denim, in which Jeanologia collaborated.
“What Çalik is doing does with the Oxygene line is huge,” he said. “They have tremendous success with it.”
Ahmed recalls when Artistic Milliners launched an organic cotton line. “It resulted in a loss of profit,” he said. “We were looking at sustainability from the wrong lens; an eco-friendly line is not the right way. Sustainability is a mind-set; it’s a way of thinking. We worked with the [Sustainable Apparel Coalition], which represents 40 percent of global brands, including Nike, Levi’s, H&M [on the Higg Index, a measurement tool that they developed to quantify the level of sustainability of an apparel garment]. The right way to do it is the holistic approach. Our workers have a 360-degree view off green spaces. We have solar panels and roof gardens for better insulation. Being sustainable is a prerequisite.”
Dorfman added, “I don’t think sustainability should be a hangtag or a selling point. I don’t want it to be marketed. It’s should part of your DNA.”
Superlight fabrics were ubiquitous at the fair.
Industry pioneer François Girbaud, behind the namesake brand with a new operating company Mad Lane who also collaborates with Los Angeles-based women’s wear brand Co, said he was looking for lightweights.
“There’s a whole androgyny [trend]: boys wear women’s denim weights and vice versa. Marithé + François Girbaud has always been unisex,” he asserted.
Tiia Richardson, director of denim product development and production at Marc Jacobs, agreed on the androgyny theme, saying, “Men’s jeans trend skinny and women’s jeans trend less skinny with a burst in trousers, overalls, jumpsuits, looser silhouettes.”
She saw a lot of elevated wash and dye treatments on denim and an emphasis on textures, adding, “I saw a lot more jacquards, piques, pick stitches, and some nice dobbies at Cappio and Kuroki.”
She praised a particular purple shade at Orta, saying, “It’s modern retro and pretty.”
“The whole music festival thing is still really big and growing,” Richardson continued. “Influences are hippies, folklore, vintage, tie-dyeing, color gradation, ripped and frayed, Native American, tribal, customized style. We call it Coachella, a music festival in the desert in Palm Springs, Calif. The shades and gradation of color were very desert, nomadic influenced, which I loved. These trends go hand in hand with denim because they make it personalized. “Embroideries and hand stitching is trending, reminds me of the hippies or the tribes who patched and embroidered and adorned their own pieces. It’s all about customizing and making it our own however you want. For me, in the end that’s the essence of denim, it tells you story.”
“In terms of silhouettes for women, it’s flare, skinny, boyfriend,” said Rana Sevil Higham, director of research and development for True Religion. “Flare with the right leg opening and tight at the top through to knee is very sexy and forgiving and it’s growing as a ‘look’. Boyfriend cuts are getting slimmer. Cropped fits are also getting attraction.”
“The customer is responding to surface treatments using textural fabrics such as dobby weaves and knitago, “ said Calvin Klein’s Dorfman.
“I saw very strong whites, PFD [Prepared For Dyeing] colors,” said Ramon Vidal of the denim line Washhouse in New York.
The visitor count at the fair was 3,823, down from 3,901 in 2014, with attendance from North America rising 3.6 percent to represent 3 percent of visitors, according to show organizers. Twenty-eight percent of visitors came from Spain and the balance, 72 percent, from other countries.
The show gathered 87 exhibitors, versus 97 last November. Organizers cited the overlap with the textile and garment machinery exhibition ITMA Milan and insecurity in Tunisia, which is impacting the country’s economy and weakening local companies.
Newcomers to the fair included China-based Advance Denim and Hyosung, a South Korean fiber producer.
“The denim sector is constantly on the move, so we are constantly fine-tuning the concept,” said Première Vision president Philippe Pasquet, who added the fair would be in Barcelona next season, denying rumors of a move. The next edition of Denim by Première Vision is scheduled for May 18 and 19.