LOS ANGELES — With first-time exhibitors who traveled from as far as South Korea and the U.K. as well as a new area called Sourcing, the Los Angeles International Textile Show tried to appeal to fashion designers who favor novelty and comfort but also work on a small scale.
The three-day expo that ended Wednesday at the California Market Center tested a new schedule overlapping with the Majors Market that specializes in juniors and women’s fashion. The building’s lobby was bustling, but traffic in certain areas of the textile show was too light for exhibitors’ liking. Although the focus was on the fall-winter 2017 season, some buyers purchased material for their collections that they cut to order.
The resurgence of Los Angeles as a center of creativity drew several first-time participants who were eager to meet attendees from Monique Lhuillier, Jerry Leigh, Spiritual Gangster, Michael Stars, Halston, Manhattan Beachwear, Speedo and other brands. Having sold polyester-Spandex jersey to retailers such as Express and Chico’s, Well-Tech Global Co. exhibited in one of the 24 booths hosted by the Global Korea Textile Pavilion, which was located next to Sourcing. Pongees, a British purveyor of textured textiles such as brightly dyed wool mohair and pleated silk netting, came to the West Coast for the first time since its business was started in 1931.
“We have next to no clients in L.A.,” said Nick Moore, director of Pongees. Moreover, the recent Brexit vote that will withdraw the U.K. from the European Union has tipped the exchange rates in American designers’ favor. “At the moment, the dollar to the pound is good,” he said, noting that his prices run from $10 to $150 a meter. As for the impact of Brexit on business, he doesn’t think much will change. “I hope not anyway, certainly not in trade,” he said.
The new section devoted to sourcing intended to highlight California’s status as an epicenter of domestic manufacturing with seven booths that included full-service production company Jennifer Loel Designs from Cotati, Calif., and denim washhouse DJ Laundry and Classy Dyeing & Finishing in Los Angeles. The debut of the annex didn’t seem to make much of an impact, however, due to its location that required attendees to leave the floor of the main show, according to some exhibitors. (Companies in the neighboring Korean pavilion voiced similar complaints.) Still, reaching out to emerging designers at the trade event was a necessary step toward preventing more business from migrating to China.
“We’re trying to be more innovative,” said David Martinez, the assistant manager at DJ Laundry. Working with labels such as Frame and Lucky Brand, the company’s skills span vintage washes, screenprints and bleached effects. “The only way to survive is to do novelty stuff in the U.S.,” he said.
Novelty was a favorite word among many exhibitors. Duksung Inco Co. fared well with its stash of faux furs and leathers. Costing between $8 and $12 a yard, the selection included fur subtly dyed in magenta and quilted leather.
Kevan Hall shopped for material to make next year’s fall collection, specifically a “mélange of newer textures and fabrics,” he said. Often dipping into a palette of gray, charcoal and metal hues, he said his customers “just want things that are not necessarily trendy but fit into their lifestyle.”
Louis Verdad, who in the spring will launch a denim-centric women’s line called Verdad for the advanced contemporary market, also was on the quest for prints and fabrics for his sophomore collection. “I’m looking for things that are going to make a statement,” he said. “What is the next thing you want to see denim with?”
The preference for unusual treatments led several designers to the lacelike leather that OSM Leather Inc. cut by laser, bonded on netting and sold for $6 a square foot. “It’s very different. It’s wearable at the same time,” said Sevket Yilmaz, who oversees OSM’s manufacturing operations in Turkey.
Anyway Fashion Co., which came to the show for the first time from China, also drew a crowd looking for eccentric designs such as crochet bibs, fringe that faded from neon orange to black and faux pearls set on artificial fur tufts.
In addition to novelty, designers had comfort in mind.
Unitex International, which spins ribbed fabric in its Vernon, Calif., factory, said anything with Tencel did well.
Asher Fabric Concepts, which knitted the red, white and blue jersey that Ralph Lauren used in the American athletes’ uniforms at the Rio Summer Olympics, benefited from the popularity of stripes, whether they alternated between red and white or appeared as raised rows on an ivory swatch.
For the first time, Textiles de la Dunière displayed its knitted fabric blended with wool. Charging $10 to $60 a yard for sampling, Dunière spins and knits the fabric in France to ensure that the quality is much higher than other offerings on the market. The array of textures it brought to Los Angeles included metallic finishes, jacquard-inspired stripes and double-faced options.
Subbarow from India managed to combine novelty with comfort in ikat and jacquard, both made of cotton and priced from $7.50 to $9 a yard. While the patterns varied, the top tints were “a lot of subtle colors and gray scales,” said executive director Chandresh Raja.
The trend for designers and brands to sell directly to consumers in their own stores or e-commerce is affecting the way that they make clothes and buy fabrics.
Designer Fabric Warehouse is seeing growing interest for its deadstock fabrics. Costing anywhere from $2 to $25 a yard, the supply includes selvage denim, flannel herringbone and beaded silk. Designers who are environmentally conscientious to use upcycled fabric, even if they come in limited quantities, don’t follow trends in the main market. “It’s whatever they’re feeling,” said Gina Rios, a representative for Los Angeles-based Designer Fabric Warehouse. “They’re trying to put a twist on everything but it’s their own twist.”