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Knitting / Apparel

Classic Revival At Premiere Vision

Tradition catches up with technology in fabrics introduced for Autumn/Winter 2001/02.

Virginia S. Borland, New York Correspondent

Irish tweeds, Scottish tartans, denim, lace and satin are back in fashion with a vastly different touch and performance. Many of the 796 fabric companies showing lines for Autumn/Winter 2001/02 at Premiere Vision report strong interest in classics with a luxurious, natural touch; plus easy wear and protective qualities achieved with the addition of stretch yarns, microfibers and other synthetics; or through new finishing techniques.Although overall attendance at Premiere Vision was slightly lower than a year ago (40,066 versus 41,043 in Fall 1999), there were more Asian visitors, a sign that the economy is improving in that part of the world. There was concern about the increase in the cost of raw materials, but weavers selling luxury goods reported little resistance to higher prices. DuPont Diversifies Into NonwovensDuPont showed the first line of fabrics from its new division, Inova. Formed as a joint venture with DuPont Lycra®, Inova was, according to Brian Gallagher, marketing and sales director, developed to engineer nonwoven fabrics to make them fashionable (See K/A News ATI, this issue).The innovative expertise of DuPont Inova delivers featherweight, versatile and multi-functional fabrics to satisfy the increasing demand for more lifestyle-appropriate apparel, said Gallagher. DuPont will distribute these fabrics through its global distribution network.There is interest in Inova from firms as diverse as Chanel, Levis and Adidas. Prices range from $1.55 per yard to $20 per yard. New Strategies At WoolmarkAt Woolmark, one new project involves certification of woven fabrics that are machine washable. A Portugese company, Penteadora, has been licensed to sell woven wool fabrics that have been partially treated for washability. Woolmark will work with garment manufacturers the rest of the way and license finished apparel that meets stringent washability standards. Trousers tailored in Woolmark-licensed fabrics and washed up to 20 times retain their crease and soft hand.Another new venture for Woolmark is an alliance with Cargill Dow, Minnetonka, Minn., producers of NatureWorks PLA, which is produced from corn, a renewable resource. Fabrics in blends of wool/NatureWorks can be dyed and heat-set at low temperatures and have a more natural hand than fabrics made with conventional polyester, said John McGowan, president, The Woolmark Company, Americas. Soft-Hand TweedsIn the woolen sector, Scottish weaver Johnstons of Elgin showed a chevron-patterned tweed, 580-grams-per-meter coating of 100-percent cashmere. It is selling at about $150 per meter, with little price resistance. According to John Gillespie, raw materials costs are up nearly 100 percent. The company has raised prices about 10 percent.Popular at Johnstons of Elgin are color-flecked Donegals in deep berry and wood tones; rustic, raised stripes coordinated with mini textures; miniature tartans in unconventional, smoky colors; double-faced open weaves; and the conventional twills and basket weaves. All are woven of 100-percent cashmere and available in weights ranging from 210 grams per meter to coatings weighing more than 500 grams per meter.The company also sells fabrics containing camel hair, alpaca and other precious fibers. Some of its classic weaves have added touches of sparkle.Tweed is back and color is selling, said Derick Murray, managing director of The KM Harris Tweed Group. Classic checks in bright colors and lighter weights are in demand. Another Harris tweed weaver, Donald Macleod, has added 15-percent cashmere to Harris tweed to give it an extra-soft hand. We can add more cashmere, if our customers want an even softer hand, said Macleod. 

Donald Macleod is weaving Harris tweeds in natural, undyed wool. He is planning a line dyed with natural colors. We can do almost any weight or pattern, he said.Another luxury-class Scottish weaver, ReidandTaylor, showed superfine New Zealand Merino of 14.5 and 16.5 microns and lightweight lambs wool. Fabrics are woven of either woolen or worsted fiber-dyed yarns, and heat-set or paper-pressed. Double-faced coatings in 100-percent cashmere or cashmere/wool blends reverse from tweed to twill. A group of double-faced protective fabrics are backed with Coolmax®. ReidandTaylors Managing Director, Raymond Eagleson, said that menswear and womenswear firms are sampling many of the same fabrics. Teflon-Coated TweedRobert Noble is selling traditional Scottish looks to the American market. Gill Cable, designer, said buyers picked up on heathered, not too bright berry and jewel tones. Red shades are especially popular. Soft-hand Donegals, checks and estate tweeds are also of interest. There will be a lot of coordination next fall, she said. Designers are carefully selecting patterns and textures that work together.Flannel-finished tweeds are popular for menswear at Robert Noble. Teflon-coated, adhesive-backed estate tweeds are selling to luggage manufacturers and to the airline industry.Irish wool weaver John Hanly showed misted and color-flecked Donegal tweeds woven with Shetland and lambs wool yarns to Jones of New York, Ellen Tracy, Lands End and Nordstrom. The American market is buying color, said Brian Hanly, director. We have a lot of orders for heathers. Soft, milled finishes are popular, as there is less pilling.John Hanly stocks woolen and worsted tartans, so delivery for sample yardage is prompt. Hanly said coordinating patterns are in demand. The most frequently ordered tweeds are in the 350- to 400-grams-per-meter range.An ultra-soft stretch fabric containing wool, cashmere, angora and Lycra was pointed out by Thomas Brochier of the French firm de Cathelo. It is selling very well to the American market, he said. The price is $17 per meter. Classic checks; fluffy, soft, tweed coatings; brushed boucles; and a group of textures Brochier calls modern rustics are among the best sampling fabrics.The wool coat business is stronger, partly because of the strong dollar, said Brochier. And we are getting repeat business on plain and plaid coordinates, which have exceptional drape. They are 260 grams per meter and sell for $13 per meter.French novelty wool weaver de Vaudricourt showed double-faced, jacquard reversing from wool to silk. Other double-faced fabrics containing mohair reverse pattern or texture, or are striped or checked. We are selling a lot of mohair this season, said Axel Delacroix, designer.There was also wool/Lycra stretch at de Vaudricourt, as well as a group of double weaves that reverse from linen to wool. They have irregular cut-out designs woven using Chimere, a water-dissolvable yarn.French weaver Isoule uses mohair in boucles and fancy patterns. According to Gerard Alzieu, president, large patterns are selling best. Ethnic-patterned felted and woven double cloths some having a pilled surface were also shown, as well as color-flecked tweeds, brushed flannels and animal patterns. Linen With WoolJohn England of Northern Ireland showed textured yarn dyes in a blend of 52-percent linen/48-percent wool with a soft, washed look and a warm touch. Small dobby patterns are especially popular. England is also selling a glazed linen bonded to Coolmax.Linen gives strength to wool, and wool gives drape to linen, said Stephen Brown, commercial director, Moygashel, Ireland. Tweeds and heather flannels have what Brown described as a fresh handle. Wool/nylon blends have been selling well to the American market. According to Brown, they have an Italian look at a lower price.Along with classic weaves and patterns, a lot of technical innovation in wool and blends was seen at Milior of Italy, including stretch checks splattered with golden cobwebs and fake leather reversing to flannel. There are stretch tweeds, corduroys and moleskins, jacquard-patterned denims and a group called Cybersilk, which is woven using Ispira® Tactel nylon. Techno InnovatorsSchoeller of Switzerland, an innovator in protective outerwear fabrics, reported high interest in its Keprotec® collection of fabrics containing Kevlar®, DuPonts aramid fiber developed for bullet-proof vests. Dockers and Levis are using a soft, supple fabric in a blend of metal, nylon, wool and Kevlar. Flannels and taffetas blend Kevlar with silk and microfibers; along with wool, metal and nylon. Fabrics containing Kevlar are tear-, abrasion-, friction- and heat-resistant.Metal at Schoeller is more discrete than in the past. Fabrics have a softer hand and more drape, including a stretch jeanswear fabric in a blend of 24-percent metal/31-percent cotton/42-percent nylon/3-percent elastane. Another innovation uses an ultrasound technique for quilting, by which three layers are permanently joined and will not pull apart.A group of reflective fabrics, Schoellers butterfly effect, changes color with light and movement. New reflective fabrics have a mirror effect in daylight and a fluorescent/phosphorescent look in the dark.Welbeck showed light-reflective knitted fabrics in Tactel®/polyester/ Lycra blends that shimmer with the slightest movement for the leisurewear and lingerie markets. A new, two-way-stretch laminated satin can be molded, eliminating the need for foam padding in foundation garments.Based on the success of its line of aroma-release knits, which are in La Perlas line in four fragrances, Welbeck has added fabrics containing aloe vera. Moisturizer is released only on contact with the skin and lasts through 20 washes. Fabrics are knitted in blends of Tactel micro, Tactel Diablo or micropolyester with 11- to 13-percent Lycra. Glitter KnitsAt Mabu Jersey, ultra-sheer knits dazzle with golden threads and colored cellophane yarns. There are tree-bark textures, animal- and reptile-skin prints, eyelash effects, fishnets, pleated borders and crinkled sheers. Many contain stretch yarns, and all have a soft touch. These fabrics are selling in coordinating weights and patterns.Wool/cashmere and wool/silk knits in novelty jacquard designs, wool/nylon/alpaca brushed boucles and meshes and doubled-faced jacquards of wool/viscose are also popular at Mabu. There are leather looks knitted in cotton and coated with polyurethane, and tweeds and quilted knits in wool/acrylic blends.French knitter Billon Freres is also into glitz, showing gold pointelle-stitched knits, irregularly patterned jacquard sheers, golden ribs, stripes and zig zags, metal circles printed on stretch dress weights and golden flecked fabrics many containing Lycra.Billon Freres also showed mohair blended with acrylic or nylon and knitted into open crochet looks, sweater stitches, meshes and stripes. There are jacquards with Art Deco designs or engineered patterns, and soft, supple, lightly lacquered polyester knits.The Spanish firm Sedera is selling knits and wovens in coordinating graphic patterns. Black and white classic checks and boxy patterns are popular in dress and jacket weights. A lot of stretch is shown. They are fabrics with brushed surfaces; knitted or woven using blends of viscose/acetate, viscose/polyester or viscose/wool. Novelty PrintsAt Milag of France, quartz-finished, printed stretch denim resembles reptile skin. The clear, splattered quartz finish allows the fabric to drape. Fabrics are woven with both warp and weft stretch. The range goes from shirtings and satins to pannes and chenilles. A printed neoprene thin enough to be shipped on rolls is selling to accessory manufacturers.At Italian printer Segalini, Lurex® jersey has been printed with large, irregular box patterns. The companys Helitex line includes novelty stripes and geometric designs printed on silk satin. Jacquards, woven in gold, have the look of moire; other jacquards with squared-off patterns are woven in blends of viscose/mohair/wool.At Miroglio of Italy, Frank Iovino, who heads up the companys U.S. operation, noted that prints are selling well on blouse-weight fabrics, including satin, georgette, crepe de chine, pebbled crepe and jersey. Many are sueded, stretchy and woven with microfibers. Anything with gold is selling, he said.The most popular print designs at Miroglio are retro looks; small, abstract designs; splattered florals; optic herringbone patterns; diagonal stripes; dot/stripe combinations; and animal or reptile skins. 
Ratti Fashion, Italy, also has a line of blouse prints. Most are printed on silk twill, crepe de chine or light dupioni. The colors are deep, the designs simple; some resemble woven fabrics, while others have pebble textures or abstract patterns. Sportier looks include printed, brushed wools; animal-skin prints on textured stretch bottom weights; fake fur patterns on pile fabrics; and glitzy, gold, woven jeanswear fabrics.For eveningwear, Ratti showed chiffon, georgette, satin and velveteen printed with oriental floral designs, ostrich skins, golden abstracts, kaleidoscope designs, shimmering iridescents and newly designed paisleys. Mohair At The Top EndTop-quality producers of haute-couture fabrics showed a lot of mohair. At France-based Solstiss, it turned up in lace sometimes trimmed with mink, fox or rabbit. Other laces are hand-beaded with sequins or feathers and selling for more than $400 per yard. Some of the most popular are lustrous and shimmering, with a liquid look.The French firm Paul Dulac showed mohair/nylon net embroidered with feathers, metallic yarns or silk. Patterns are leafy, abstract or flowery. Shimmering sandwich cloths have three layers of sheer fabrics in different colors, some containing metal in the middle. Pattern effects are achieved using Chimere.At Weisbrod-Zurrer, Switzerland, a fabric woven using a blend of 63-percent mohair/30-percent silk/7-percent nylon is fluffy, bulky, ultra-lightweight and soft. Mohair is also used in boucles. A group of wool fabrics has wide, puckered effects. They are woven using different types of wool that shrink differently to provide this look. Some are ombrhaded, while others have surface interest.Weisbrod-Zurrer also showed crepe satins in wool/silk blends, double weaves with moire patterns reversing to boxy checks, sparkling sheers, sandwich cloths with burn-out mid-sections for novelty effects, brocades with optical patterns, crushed taffeta, shot chiffon, iridescent silks and lots of metallic. Revival For Hand-Cut VelvetSilk specialist Bucol of France has developed new techniques for satin and revived some old ones. Known for its yarn-dyed and warp-printed duchesse satin, the company is now giving it water-repellent finishes, backing it with felt for outerwear, and finishing it to feel like leather or rubber.The long-defunct art of producing velour coupe au sabre, or hand-cut velvet, has recently been revived by Bucol. Velour coupe au sabre can only be produced by hand from duchesse satin woven using a double warp.When Bucol stopped making cut velvet in the 1960s, the art nearly died out. When the company decided to revive it in 1993, it found only one very old woman in all of France who knew the technique and could train younger women in the art. Today, Bucol has found a niche market for this product. In just a few years, the company has trained five workers who are trying to keep up with the demand at around $600 per meter.Daniel Faure, chairman, Premiere Vision, announced dates for the Spring/ Summer 2002 shows. European Preview will take place in New York City January 17-18, 2001; Premiere Vision in Paris, March 1-4, 2001.

December 2000