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Knitting / Apparel

Fashion Update

Fiber, fabric and yarn innovations, as well as student design contests and marketing efforts, keep the fashion industry vibrant.

By Virginia S. Borland, New York Correspondent

A t the most recent Premiere Vision Pluriel, an event featuring five shows at the Paris-Nord Villepinte convention and exposition center, Expofil's spinners and fiber producers were positioned near Premiere Vision's weavers.

Expofil exhibitors introduced new end-uses for their products, new fiber variants and trend information for Fall/Winter 2008-09. Trends reported at Premiere Vision Preview in New York City in January were reconfirmed at Premiere Vision.


Jason Brunsdon was sponsored by Australian Wool Innovation to
design a line of clothing featuring merino wool for New York City's fashion week.

Dow Fiber Solutions, Midland, Mich., has a new comfort stretch product called Next Generation XLA developed expressly for denim. The fiber is resistant to high heat, harsh chemicals and destructive denim washes. It is engineered to withstand damaging treatments that would alter the fabrics appearance and hand, even after multiple machine washes or dry cleanings. Denim apparel by Alice Roi, a New York City-based designer, was on display at Dow. A large part of Rois collection is made of black stretch wool denim. "By choosing fabrics made with XLA, I have the freedom to design comfortable, yet fitted garments that wont stretch out over time, and in deep colors that wont fade," Roi said.

Cotton Incorporated, Cary, N.C., introduced Stay True Cotton, a topical finish that can be applied to fabrics or garments. According to recent market studies, dark jeans are in fashion. Forty-four percent of those interviewed don't like faded jeans. Normally, there is a 20-percent color loss in denim after multiple washes. With Stay True Cotton, fading is reduced to only 7 percent.

New yarn developments by Cotton Incorporated focus on denims, twills and plain weaves. The preference in Europe is for cleaner twills. In the United States and Japan, broken twills are in favor. Fabrics on display were woven with S-twist, 3-ply and multi-count yarns.

The Cotton Incorporated Color Forecast for Fall/Winter 2008-09 comprises five ranges with seven colors in each range. Gray, navy and dark green are zapped with bright orange and yellow in the Enmesh group. Choreography colors are suggested for coarsely woven checks, sophisticated shirtings and suits. Brown, smoky gray and deep plum are enlivened with chartreuse, rust and blue. Off-whites and cool grays are centered by brown in the Composed color group. New Philosophy shades are throbbing brights plus navy, brown, taupe and black. Theatrics is a study in contrast, with intense brights and off-beat darks.

Austria-based Lenzing AG's Lenzing Fibers business unit's color card for Fall/Winter 2008-09 also is organized into five groups with seven colors in each. There are separate selections for womens apparel, menswear and intimates. Warm reds, golden winter greens and tarnished metallics are grouped in Autumn Gold. Slightly faded and frosted neutrals are in a range called Monar Chic. Frost shades are pale and icy. Blackened darks and twinkling lights are in the Night Lights range. Steel blue, mint and wintergreen are in the Blue Moon story.

At a Lenzing press conference, findings of an intensive research program conducted at the Children's Clinic in Madrid, Spain, and by professor T.L. Diepgen, University of Heidelberg, Germany, show that the special properties of Tencel® fiber prevent skin irritations such as neurodermatitis and psoriasis. Because of its temperature-regulating and moisture-management properties, the smoothness and purity of the fiber and lack of chemicals in processing, there is less bacterial growth and greater comfort in bed linens and night clothes woven or knitted with Tencel. Ninety percent of those tested reported that fabrics containing Tencel alleviated skin sensitivity and disease.

Supima, Phoenix, Ariz. the promotional organization of the American Pima cotton growers, and a first-time exhibitor at Expofil dispensed information about Supima® cotton and showed a variety of products from diverse licensees. Armani jeans woven with Supima are 50-percent stronger than traditional denims, according to Supima. Licensees are global and include all links in the supply chain, from Hermann Buhler AG and Spoerry & Co. AG two yarn spinners from Switzerland to Italian shirting fabric producer Cotonificio Albini S.p.A., and retailers such as Jockey International Inc., L.L. Bean Inc., and Marks and Spencer Plc.

France-based A-Dress reported increased interest in eco-friendly yarns. Its Siboo range spun using bamboo is available ringspun, bouclette and blended with silk, linen, cashmere or soy. Best sellers at Kurabo Industries Ltd., Japan, are Spinair, a 100-percent hollow-core cotton; Lunafa, a 90-percent cotton featuring wool on the inside; and Fanon, a cotton with a cashmere touch.

France-based spinner Safilin sells linen yarns for knitting and weaving. Upholstery and wall coverings are two end-uses. Rustic yarns are going into webbing. For the denim market, Safilin is selling three types of yarn spun with long fibers. Stretch denim on display uses fabric construction to create excellent stretch and recovery.

Yarns spun with Outlast® viscose from Tearfil Textile Yarns, Portugal, are going into mens underwear, infants garments and outerwear. The company has developed a new spinning system called Pluma, which means "feather" in English. It is an open-end system that imparts the touch of ring-spun yarns. Ultrasoft, low-pill Pluma yarns are spun with viscose and viscose/silk.

Hermann Buhler reported a demand for organic products through the supply chain. Its Rainbow yarns two-color and piece-dyeable are going into double-faced, color-reverse fabrics. Rainbow yarns are in stock for immediate delivery. At Pozzi Electa S.p.A., Italy, ultrafine yarns spun with precious fibers and metal are popular for knitting and weaving.

BeCool nylon from France-based CondaminandProdon-Schwarzenbach is now available blended with cashmere or cotton. Because of its air flow ability, BeCool is popular for socks, knitted shirts and intimate apparel. Lacoste and VF Corp. are customers. In wovens, BeCool is going into jeans.

At Premi Vision, satins, sheen burnished metallics and sparkle are popular. Airy, light chiffons and voiles; jacquards; crushed and crinkled surfaces; and coated treatments were highlighted. There is a trend to classics, especially sharkskins, twills, plain weaves and traditional checks. New are ultralight, dense fabrics woven or knitted with compact yarns.

Paylana S.A., Uruguay, has drapy satin suitings of viscose/wool/Lycra®, shiny/dull novelty weaves called "Wannabe jacquards" and cotton gauze plaids. Organic cotton grown in Texas is woven into twills, double gauzes and yarn-dyed chambrays at Japan-based Showa. Some are foil-printed. There is indigo-dyed denim woven with a wool warp and cotton filling.

At France-based Frantissor Creations, there are iridescent taffetas, polyester/cotton memory cloths, and satins and sateens woven with steel. High-tech fabrics from Mectex, Italy, are plasma-treated a process that is done in a vacuum machine. Fabrics are water-repellent and antibacterial.

Switzerland-based Schoeller Textil AG reported trench coats are selling. New fabrics treated with an invisible membrane, bonded or laminated with metal are water-repellent, transport moisture, reflect light and exhibit stretch.

Enormous outlined florals in black/white/gray, bold tropicals and large-scaled geometrics are among the prints shown at Guest, a division of Italy-based Clerici Tessuto. Small-scale abstract jacquards are woven with sparkle yarns. Ratti S.p.A., also based in Italy, has linear black and white prints with a spot of one bright shade. There are swirling geometrics, giant fractured flowers and new paisleys.

At Bucol, France, print designs are unspecific. There are swirls, circles, mosaics and Modern Art-inspired patterns. Switzerland-based jacquard weaver Weisbrod-Zuerrer AG reported stiffer fabrics, large-scale patterns and subtle glitz are selling. At Jakob Schlaepfer, also based in Switzerland, there are laces that look like peacock feathers, printed net covered with sequins and fabrics woven with recycled paper yarns.

Australian Wool Innovations
Looking to expand the consumption of wool worldwide, Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) recently opened offices in the United States, Europe and Asia to promote wool merino in particular. Until recently, AWI's focus has been on research and development at the growers level. Now it is expanding to create new markets for merino wool through fabric development and marketing.

According to Matthew Flugge, general manager, corporate affairs, much of its research will be market-driven. "We are starting to take direction from retailers," Flugge said. "We want to know what they want in the way of looks, comfort and performance in wool fabrics."

Stuart McCullough, head of AWI's New York City office, noted AWI will be differentiating wool and merino because many consumers equate wool with scratchiness. "We're looking at 19-micron merino that is ultrasoft, -fine and -light," he said. Some of the new target markets are active-, sports- and careerwear.

For performance sportswear, there are machine-washable and -dryable blends of Australian merino and Lycra® featuring high stretch and recovery, shape retention and enhanced crease recovery. For outerwear, there are lightweight merino fabrics with man-made membranes that are waterproof, windproof and breathable. Other technologies include merino fabrics that are antistatic and insect-repellent, provide moisture management and UV protection, inhibit bacterial growth, and are Teflon®-coated for stain release and water repellency.

Merino blended with Invista's Thermolite® or Coolmax® can be made into fabrics that are lightweight, provide warmth and protection, and are machine-washable. Merino combined with DuPonts Sorona® corn-based fiber brings eco-friendly fabrics to the market. Recently, AWI partnered with Chargeurs of France to develop phase-change merino products treated with Klimeo, a thermal-regulating fiber.

At Fashion Week, held recently in New York City, AWI sponsored two well-known Australian designers who showed innovative collections using knitted and woven merino wool fabrics. Jason Brunsdons line features masculine-styled pant suits and sophisticated cocktail dresses in merino wool stretch.

Josh Goots line primarily features knitted fabrics. Described as tough, young, sexy and all black, many of his fabrics are glossy. There are zip-front dresses called "scuba" and bomber jackets in sparkling mattelasses.

"Through our designer partners, we are getting out the merino message of quality and performance on a global scale," said Melissa Grace, manager, fashion communications, AWI. The associations next step will be to work with designers from North America and Europe.

Working with designers, AWI is offering support throughout the supply chain. Grace said the organization is assisting designers in the development, creation and production of new fabrics and yarns based on each designer's specifications.

McCullough said AWIs aim is to dominate the apparel wool sector. Creating new markets for wool, development of easy-care and performance merino wool fabrics and promotion at all levels of the market are some of the its strategies. In New York City, it will be expanding staff and opening a fabric library. Plans are underway for the 2008 celebration of 200 years of Australian merino wool. Stay tuned.

Three Pratt Institute Fashion Students
Win Cotton Incorporated Scholarship
Three Pratt Institute fashion students were named winners in a year-long eveningwear and bridal design competition sponsored by the Importer Support Program of The Cotton Board and managed by Cotton Incorporated.

The first-place winner was Sam Bennett from Annapolis, Md. Second place went to Elizabeth Bergenheim from Medfield, Mass., and the third-place winner was Audrey Bryant from Bethesda, Md. The three winners, all graduating seniors, received cash awards totaling $10,000. More than 15 students participated in the competition, which required them to design eveningwear using only cotton fabrics.

Jurors from the fashion industry, representatives from the Pratt Institute and the Importer Support Program of the Cotton Board and Cotton Incorporated reviewed designs and selected winners. Winning designs will be shown at the annual Pratt Fashion Show, which is being funded in part by the Importer Support Program of the Cotton Board.
The Pratt Institute is the oldest college fashion program in the country. "The wonderful opportunity that arises from this scholarship competition gives our students the chance to think creatively about designing beautiful eveningwear from a fabric that they would not necessarily have considered," said Rosie DePasquale, chair of the Pratt Fashion Design Department. "The finished products were magnificent and it was difficult for the jury to choose a winner."

May/June 2007