One of the most interesting announcements to come out of last week's Première Vision textile trade show in Paris hinted at a shift in direction for this leading fabric fair.

Speaking to an informal gathering of journalists, the exhibition's chairman Daniel Faure explained that European companies with subsidiaries and manufacturing facilities outside the EU will also be invited to take part in the event from September. A special selection committee will ensure the creativity, quality and performance of exhibits meet strict criteria - thus keeping the fair at the top end of the market. 

Until then, PV is strictly a showcase of the best of European Union weavers and knitters. The latest showing - for spring/summer 2003 fabrics - attracted 746 manufacturers of shirtings, denim and corduroy, knitwear, lace and embroideries, linen, prints, silks, sports and active wear, and woollen fabrics.  

Visitors included fashion designers, garment makers, retailers and buyers - all looking for the latest trends and technically innovative material developments.

In terms of direction, freshness dominates - seen in romantic watercolour florals and botanical references such as rosebuds scattered on cottons, light silks and crêpons. Colours are sun-bleached, with fabrics either covered in white or revealing whitened aspects through yarn effects, wash treatments and coatings.

Washed-out looks also crop up in shirtings and denims, and in wool and linen with chambray effects and faded indigo, and in sportswear through sandings and coatings. Soft handles and tactile qualities are important for suitings and sportswear. Lightness is reflected in weightless lace and openwork embroideries and knits, eyelet embroidery, subtle open-working and over-printed burnouts.

For contrast, dynamic rhythms and multi-coloured deckchair stripes are seen in linen and cotton. 

Fabrics in focus

Lenzing kicked off an aggressive communication campaign for its Lyocell fibre. The aim of the "We know how" programme, as it is being called, is to encourage users of the fibre - which is derived from wood pulp - to sing its praises. A 'We know how' quality mark will be awarded to all Lenzing Lyocell partners. The initiative is being targeted at specialist retailers across Europe, particularly Germany, France and Spain.

Trevira's fibres cropped up in a range of new materials for the bodywear sector. Swiss warp and weft knitting specialist Eschler showed a Trevira Perform bioactive development for functional underwear, along with an embroidered ground yarn in Trevira classixx. Boselli, the Italian specialist for fine, high quality materials showed Trevira micro qualities for bodywear. The company is also working on new bodywear developments in Trevira Micro and Trevira Xpand, all of which are easy-care, breathable and comfortable.

Denim-oriented

Lauffenmühle's main market is in its home market of Germany, but it also counts France, the UK, Belgium and Italy amongst its export markets. Its denim-oriented range included a multi-count warp with a streaky effect, with a stretch version for a comfortable sportswear look and vintage feel. The colour palette includes sunburned tones of ochre, brick red, blues and greens, with highlights of pale blue, ecru and off-white.

Lightweight soft touch, bi-stretch fabrics come in earthy and natural pastels, as well as sun-bleached pastels.

Junior Textil offered Tencel blended with cotton for the all-important washed and faded effects with novel printing techniques for garment wash qualities. Robust but supple blends by Tejidos Royo emphasised that the required handle for men's wear is soft to the touch. Textil Santanderina included Tencel and cotton using new Compak cotton yarns for a clean handle and appearance. UCO Sportswear achieved novel cross dye and differential dye effects with a combed cotton hand by blending Tencel and Sensura.

Cotton Inc, a non-profit making organisation representing US cotton around the world, was the only US exhibitor by virtue of its office in Switzerland. "Cotton is still the most important fibre in the world," said S Dean Pelczar, senior director, international global product marketing.

He explained that the group was seeing a lot of interest in denim products - with one of the strongest trends is for "upscale denim" using mercerised yarns that have been indigo dyed. The fabric will still fade, but holds dye better and is strong enough to cope with aggressive garment finishes.

Cotton Inc also showed a new development with a 100 per cent cotton kaleidoscope yarn (a stock-dyed slub yarn) suitable for light suitings or shirtings.

Summer tailoring

Companies exhibiting under the British Wool Textile Export Corporation banner showed a range of lightweight weaves in wool, silk, linen, cashmere and mohair. The KM Group of Companies, for example, introduced hand woven Harris Tweed in brighter colours, lighter weights and broader widths. Every metre of genuine Harris Tweed is still hand-woven from 100 per cent pure new wool at the weavers' own homes, retaining the cloth's traditional quality.

Alexanders of Scotland introduced several new combinations of cloth including linen/cotton two-ply jacketing; silk/lambswool textured fabric; and viscose linen and cotton in space-dyed effects. A lambswool/Lycra lightweight stretch is also new, together with viscose, linen and Lycra; a cotton/nylon with textured bouclé effect; and a pure cotton in soft herringbones. Colours vary from neutrals and soft contrasts to powdery brights.

This season John Foster concentrated on traditional and classical suiting for men's wear. The collection is made using natural fibres including merino wool and luxurious mohair. New is a design range of 90/10 wool/mohair and 70/30 merino wool and adult kid mohair fabric from the South African Cape that is both lightweight and crease resistant. The collection is targeted at the middle to top end markets for both clothiers and tailors around the world.

Mohair specialist William Halsted has entered a license agreement with Camdeboo Mohair (Pty) Ltd from the Cape of South Africa. Amongst the qualities in its new Camdeboo Collection are a 2-ply 100 per cent winter kid cloth, an 80 per cent winter kid with silk, and a 2-ply winter kid with 6-ply Super 120's wool travel cloth. Other mohair developments include a lambswool, Tencel and kid mohair 2-ply with a soft bottled finish; a wool, cotton and kid mohair suiting; and a 75 per cent silk, 25 per cent summer kid mohair suiting.

Lochcarron of Scotland presented its range of woven apparel fabrics in wool, wool/cotton, silk, mohair, angora, and other luxury blends. In a host of weights from light and airy to denser jacketings, the spring/summer palette includes whites and ecrus in every colour story from fresh pastels to bohemian brights. Greens are strong throughout, and 'lingerie' pink and soft grey are incorporated in all groups.

Italian weaver Lanificio Fratelli Bertotto SpA showed seasonless lightweight wools and heavy cotton; comfort stretch fabrics for jackets, pants and skirts in a range of blends including silk; and lighter, brighter, relaxed summer blends of linen, cotton and silk, enhanced by ginghams, stripes, checks, transparent and iridescent effects.

Cool clean aspects for lightweight summer tailoring are achieved using Tencel at Van Delden, in false plains with a hint of discreet texture. Tecnea also featured a cool new tailoring quality of Tencel/stretch polyester.

Linen plus Lycra

A new tailoring fabric making its debut at the show was the first ever combination of pure 'Irish Linen plus Lycra.' Jointly developed by Spence Bryson, John England and William Ross working in conjunction with DuPont, the Irish Linen Guild, the University of Ulster (Textiles and Fashion Design) and the Industrial Development Board for Northern Ireland, the fabric is described as a "technological breakthrough".

The rigidity of linen yarns has been overcome in a corespun version with Lycra in the middle. What it means for garment makers is that pure Irish Linen can now be tailored much closer to the body, have a very comfortable stretch and good crease recovery while still maintaining a 'linen' look.

John England was showing Irish Linen plus Lycra fabrics in a plain weave and with a coordinating twill to give a denim effect. Irish designer Michelle O'Doherty is already using the material commercially, and John England said that around half of the enquiries on its stand were for the new fabric.

Linen blends on show elsewhere included mixes with Tencel for softness and fluidity in both men's and women's wear. Puig Codina offered Tencel/linen with a touch of polyester for lightweight summer tailoring and Josef Otten introduced a new Tencel/linen blend with an elegant drape. Textil Santanderina added discreet pattern with subtle herringbone patterning or pinstripes, both solid and piece-dyed for garment wash. Saic Velcorex offered a variation on a popular Tencel/linen quality, adding cotton for a more substantial handle suitable for casual jackets and trousers.

Special effects

Launched two years ago, Berne-Welbeck's branded laminate Airpak collection consists of two-sided fabrics with a cushioned or compression resistant centre and has now been updated to provide a range of effects and characteristics. Incorporating moisture management properties, concept prints have also been introduced, targeted at the sportswear and lingerie markets. The fabric is breathable, mouldable, easy care and highly commercial, significantly reducing the number of stages currently involved in bra manufacture.

It also has huge potential for body contouring garments. For example, support pants can be moulded to the shape of the body, and elastane can be used to give support and control where it is needed. Welbeck says that major names in US and European retailing have taken up the new fabric.  

Consumer needs for more comfortable protection from adverse weather conditions have prompted DuPont Textiles and Interiors - DuPont's specialised new subsidiary - to launch Aquator Weather Protection fabric systems. Based on laminated fabrics incorporating proprietary DuPont membrane technology, these flexible fabric systems provide comfort and aesthetics combined with waterproofness, windproofness, breathability and durability.

Greg Vas Nunes, vice president apparel, DuPont Textiles & Interiors, Europe, described Aquator as "the next generation of weather protection that, used in conjunction with DuPont fibres and fabrics, offers everything consumers expect in terms of waterproof and windproof protection, without compromising comfort, fit, touch or aesthetics."

The company also announced it is broadening the Teflon fabric protection brand through a joint agreement with Ciba Specialty Chemicals. This will take Teflon beyond stain resistance to include other aspects of easy care such as wrinkle resistance and freshness.

Finally, DuPont demonstrated its Online Fabric Library, which offers round-the-clock access to more than 7,500 fabrics containing DuPont branded fibres from 400 mills in 40 countries. The Library "revolutionises sourcing" by cutting the costs involved in selecting fabrics the company says.

 

Fabrics for autumn/winter 2003/04 will be on show at the next Première Vision, which takes place in Paris from 18-21 September 2002.