PARIS — Première Vision has good news for Europe’s top textile mills: Expect twice as many Americans this season when the show opens at the Villepinte exhibition halls just north of here.

“The number of preregistered Americans has literally exploded,” said Daniel Faure, who runs the event, Sept. 21-24. “I’m talking about an increase of 50 percent or more.”

With more English visitors also pre-registered, Faure said the season is shaping up swimmingly for Europe’s luxury textile industry. That’s a positive for European textile mills coping with increased competition from China and a strong euro.

“Europe’s textile industry may be hurting,” said Faure. “But those that remain are fighting like champions.”

To wit: Faure said the 35,000 buyers who visit PV would witness their creative resilience. “Wool weavers are particularly strong. There are wonderful tweeds. Sportswear mills have made incredible efforts. Products we’ve received to exhibit in the trend forum are remarkable.”

Faure reckons the increase in American visitors underscores a need for more special products.

“Retailers need more fashion, more fantasy, more difference,” he said. “When so much of the product mix is the same and so inexpensive, they can’t find any margins. They need something different, something special to boost the bottom line.

“The economy must also be getting better.”

In any case, PV is ready to accommodate visitors in style, with streamlined trend forums, clearer maps and an army of hostesses to answer questions. There will be a special exhibition of extraordinary fabrics, from the past to today. Twenty-five new mills will be on hand, bringing the total number of exhibitors to 727.

Meanwhile, Faure lauded recent synergies created between the concurrent textile and trimmings fairs at Villepinte: Indigo, Mod ’Amont and Expofil. “It’s a full panorama,” he said.

— Robert Murphy

This story first appeared in the September 14, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.