PARIS — Exhibitors at Texworld, the fabric fair that closed here Friday, said political uncertainty and anxiety about the end of global apparel quotas on Jan. 1 had cast a cloud over business activity, though order levels were on par with last year.

“Business has a lot of ups and downs right now,” said Vijay Bhaskar, president of India’s Hanuman Weaving Factory. “The U.S. presidential election is a factor, and there’s too much competition from China.”

Texworld, with 650 exhibitors — 20 more than last year — ran for four days at the CNIT complex at La Défense, the business district just west of Paris. While PV offers high-end European fabrics, Texworld attracts bargain hunters with its less-expensive textiles from more than 40 countries, including China, Turkey, India, South Korea and Brazil.

Exhibitors said fierce competition from China had made it difficult to turn a profit.

“Customers are asking for lower prices,” Bhaskar said. “That said, we’re on target to do the same volume as last year.”

With ethnic beading and embroideries in fashion, many buyers said the show hit most of the trends. Buyers reported good business through summer and said they planned modest budget increases for next year. They were shopping for fabrics for both the spring-summer 2005 and fall 2005-winter 2006 seasons.

“Business is good,” said Susan Kroll, president of Donnkenny Apparel, based in New York. However, she said, “We’ll spend 10 percent more, at the most.”

Owen Wilkins, owner of BDCO, a London-based print design company that sources in Asia, said the vogue for prints and decorations had boosted business. But, he added, “Customers are still cautious.”

Pramod Shah, director of Universal Overseas Ltd., an Indian mill specialized in beading and embroidery, said, “Business is still good, but it’s getting tougher. There’s too much competition, and prices are under pressure. It’s hard to make a profit.”

Trends continue to be soft, romantic and feminine, buyers said. Denim and tweed also were cited as important for next fall.

“Girls are wearing jeans with romantic printed tops,” said Simone Rommelaars, a designer at Promiss, a Dutch fashion chain. “Business is good. It is changing from a year ago, and casualwear is getting better.”

This story first appeared in the September 28, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Kroll of Donnkenny said, “Texture is key. We’re getting more ornamented, and the colors are becoming deeper. There’s eggplant and teal, and dusty pales like rose and aqua.”

Bold patterns were a general trend at the show.

“Stripes and checks and tweeds are all on our radar,” said Amely Schmiing, a designer at Esprit. “Textiles with structure are important. We like jacquards. Shades of green and lilac are good colors.”