The Los Angeles International Textile Show benefited from a comeback in the national economy, posting 20 percent growth in its exhibitor base.
At last month’s expo, held at the California Market Center, show organizers welcomed attendees from Japan and Australia, as well as Southern California-based designers and brands, including Monique Lhuillier, Trina Turk, Heidi Merrick, Black Halo, Seven For All Mankind, Chaser and Toms.
More companies chose to exhibit this time around to take advantage of the recovery in the state’s fashion industry. The fair saw an increase of 30 to 40 exhibitors from last year. The Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency staged its Korea Pavilion with 19 exhibitors. Expanded with new arrivals from Portugal and Spain, the European collections received a boost from a strong dollar that made their euro-based prices fall within reach of designers.
“It’s easier on buyers to purchase higher quality goods with a stronger dollar,” said Brittany Carr, director of all the trade shows for California Market Center. “We’re seeing a positive turnaround.”
Even though the show targeted textile collections for the fall 2016 season, several vendors opted to offer their spring offerings, accommodating designers who work as close to deadlines as possible. One such exhibitor was Nanda Parekh, owner of K&I Textiles in Elkton, Md. She said the designers at the show were sensitive to minimum amounts for orders and delivery times. While she allows customers to sample less than 10 yards of fabric, her production orders start at 300 yards. Among her cotton ikat and dobbies on display, the black and white ikat, priced at $10.50 a yard, was the most popular.
From a designer’s perspective, shopping for fabrics entails more than striking the right price. Even after 36 years of heading a namesake women’s contemporary brand, Karen Kane is still in pursuit of new mills that can become collaborative, flexible partners.
“We were looking for new mills that we haven’t purchased from in the past, innovative ideas in fabrics — anything new in textures or knits — and anything that stood out as unique,” she said of her search for fall 2016 fabrics. “We look for mills that can be flexible with minimums, are open to working with us on different colors and allow us to develop our own prints.”
Unusual designs were on top of the list for visitors to JM International Group’s booth, which displayed fabrics from European mills such as Darquer, Confetti and Malhia Kent. Pricing was also an issue. To appeal to budget-conscious designers, Malhia Kent introduced a line called By Alexia, filled with tweed and jacquards that complement its flagship business but come with lower prices and different requirements for minimum orders.
“Many actually wrote sample orders as opposes to requesting swatches,” said John Marshall, owner of JM International Group.