Designers gravitated toward Seventies’ inspired styles and an experimental mood at the Los Angeles International Textile Show, even as fluctuations in the economy affected the realities of how they conduct business.
At the California Market Center, some 160 exhibitors displayed their wares for the spring 2017 season to designers from such brands as Uniqlo, Michael Stars, Urban Outfitters, Kohl’s, Skechers, Beach Bunny, Fidelity Denim, Wildfox and Alo Yoga. As usual, price, quality, delivery schedules and low minimum orders topped buyers’ criteria. Even as designers in New York, Paris and other fashion capitals debated the validity of the show-now, buy-now strategy in their presentations, some fabric mills said they don’t see much of an impact on their business in Los Angeles.
That’s because “everybody is working close to the deadlines,” said Laurie Wagner, a sales representative for Turkey’s Confetti Fabrics. Confetti already streamlined its business to stay competitive in the global market, setting prices for its polyester, rayon, cotton and silk prints between $3.65 and $14 a yard. The fabrics can be made in four weeks and shipped by air. Confetti requires 300 yards for the minimum order on digital prints and, unless the customer is willing to pay a surcharge for a lower figure, 800 yards on rotary prints.
“Even though we’re showing spring 2017 collections, you’re most likely not going to see orders come in for quite a few months,” Wagner said.
Still, Tüp Merserize sensed growth in the Los Angeles market, thus choosing to make its debut at the expo as a vendor to reach fresh talent. “It’s not influenced by corporations and corporate thinking,” said Effie Zadok, the Turkish company’s U.S. sales agent. “They’re more open to seeing new things [and] not restricted by prices.”
For Alejandra Kolyvakis, who usually shops for textiles at Premiere Vision in Paris, the offerings at the trade fair in Los Angeles represented an improvement from past editions.
“The last show, I was like, ‘this is a waste of time,'” said the president of Synergy Apparel and Consulting in Los Angeles. At the three-day show that ended Wednesday, she said, “I’m seeing nice plaids on the shirting end, especially for sleepwear.”
Experience designing for contemporary brands such as Yigal Azrouël, Donna Karan and True Religion has motivated Juliette Kim to scout samples that would be unconventional for the bridal market, which she’s tapping for her new Los Angeles line called The Newhite. For seasonal designs such as jackets and gowns that are intended to retail for $800 to $1,800, she inspected Ace Fabrics’ textured flowers appliqued on tulle, Zinman Textiles’ globe-patterned jacquard, Novatex International’s ivory quilted pleather and other samples at the expo.
“The market is saturated with beautiful but uncomfortable gowns,” she said. Instead, her approach is to offer “more modern and some even high-tech fabrics for a different twist.”
No matter what their niche is, designers are beholden to the fluctuations of the economy.
To appeal to bargain hunters, Debs Corp. from Japan offered a lower-priced alternative to silk with its Cupro, which costs $6 a yard for either a matte twill or sateen finish. Mandating 550 yards per color at a minimum, Debs makes the fabric in Japan within 60 days.
A resurgence in construction, particularly for hotels and restaurants, has benefited Eva Mann, owner of EM Designs in San Diego. Working with properties such as Caesars Palace and the Palms, she noticed that “the size of the order has decreased” since her clients stretch out their orders longer.
The Seventies trend that began popping up on fashion runways last year is accelerating and mills want to satiate demand. Whimsical prints that evoke that era were spotted at booths run by Monaluna, a specialist in organic fabrics from Walnut Creek, Calif., and also by Free Spirit, a division of Westminster Fibers Inc. in Charlotte, N.C.
Duniere, a family-owned mill in France that has been in business for six decades, introduced its cotton, silk and linen knits in the U.S. with prices ranging from $20 to $60 a yard. To stand out from the knits that are made locally, the company displayed heat-bonded fabric, like paper fused to a knit for origami-like texture and lace attached to a knit.
Tissage des Chaumes hoped the unique Seventies-inspired aesthetic of its camel, almond and green tweed woven with metallic thread convinced buyers to pay the high prices that run between $30 and $70 a yard.
Tüp Merserize, which traces its origins in Turkey back to the Seventies, tracked high interest for its jacquard, particularly cotton-based knits that were woven into patterns like blue and green chevrons and a combination of red, navy and cream stripes, circles and waves.
“Everything comes back,” said Effie Zadok. “Nothing goes away.”