Coriex collection

Originally conceived as an event for representatives from the retail chains who so often dictate the direction of today's fashion, the autumn 2001 Tissu Premier in Lille was particularly notable for the high percentage of clothing manufacturers among the 10,638 visitors.

While the show comprised every type of fabric, producers showing knitted fabrics outnumbered those of every other category with both warp and weft knitters well represented.

Flame retardant
Among the participants from the UK, South Wales based Clarkson Knitting offered one of the widest ranges, showing fabrics targeted to both the lingerie and sportswear sectors as well as work and safety clothing. A new weft knit range created from modified acrylic yarn plus Lycra, boasting dramatically improved flame retardant properties, was one of the highlights of its collection at Lille.

In knitted fabrics for the fashion trade, particular interest centered around pile and faux fur fabrics. For winter 2002/3 these move ever further from mere imitation of nature into a fantasy land all their own in which vivid colours and sculpted textured effects set the new mood.

Far East
Within the sphere of prints, a future trend tipped to grow even stronger for summer 2003 is the borrowing of designs from traditional furnishing fabrics. These include toile de jouy - an important story already in the Devaux, the Colortextil, the Modaprint and the Nerguisian SA collections.

Nerguisian also picks up on another important future trend - oriental influence. The cult of all things oriental reaches its ultimate in Nerguisian's scenic design showing a near life size rocks and gravel Zen garden. Elsewhere, it manifests itself as a fondness for Chinese lacquer red. It is the colour choice both for printed motifs and as a ground shade in the summer 2003 range from Henri Porter.

Meanwhile, Apluis introduced a satinised brocade fabric of the type that is most often employed for the traditional cheong sam in the Far East. Chinese influence also underlies the interest in printed patterns that simulate bamboo stems. Bamboo motifs, along with fern leaves and palm fronds have almost totally taken over from traditional florals.

Coriex collection

New generation
This is particularly the case in what Tissu Premier's organisers like to describe as "silky aspect" fabrics - a term that covers both manmade fibre fabrics, including the latest generation of microfibre sheers, and traditional woven silks. In this sector a liking for buff on black prints was a feature of fabrics obviously targeted to the more sophisticated end of the market.

The better-end customers in search of "something different " will also warm to the idea of ready-made Fortuny pleated fabrics as seen at Coriex. This producer can also provide ready pleated fabrics in which the depth of the pleating is emphasised by the partial use of ultra lightweight polyurethane coating The use of lightweight coating films to lend a super gloss surface - but without adding weight or destroying the intrinsic suppleness of the base fabric - was another major talking point at Tissu Premier. This type of finish is now being applied to every type of fabric from extreme temperature sports and workwear cloths to the most delicate chiffons and laces.

Animal skin prints
For younger consumers interest in tie-dye effects remains strong. And in response to customer demand many houses continue to run mock animal skin prints. A satinsed leopardskin printed cotton is currently being offered to casualwear manufacturers by Scoop as an alternative to denim in jeans and blouson jacket sets.

Denim itself, however, comes up with some interesting new variations on the basic blue jeans fabric theme. "Crazy paving" patchworks employing irregularly shaped scraps of variously dyed and finished denims visibly seamed together to give a hand crafted look were shown by Covex and by Cie International, while at Arteca the same technique was applied to corduroy and to real leather.

Obviously the high production costs and, to a lesser extent, the weight of the fabric itself - Arteca's denim patchwork weighs in at 800 grams - makes this more a look for the couture end of the casuals market than for volume producers.

Quilted denim
From Italy, via the Lanficio Nello Gori collection, comes quilted denim. This has as its novelty feature apparently random holes cut in the face of the fabric through which the wadding of the quilting protrudes.

This house also showed denim reversibles - one of the buyers' favourites being a denim which reverses to a faux fur long haired lamb of the type last widely in fashion in the early 70s as the Afghan coat.

Long haired lamb and faux fur fabrics of this type were also included in the Sankay collection. This proved a focal point for those retail visitors to Tissu who were talking about the time being ripe for a 70s fashion revival, and actively seeking fabrics which would fit with this image.

21st Century
Many of the ranges on show in Lille were, however, of a type only made possible by 2lst century textile technology. These included the Frantissor range of plasticised manmade fibre fabrics with iridescent and/or metallic finishes. In the same category come Tissage de l'Aigle's selection of ceramic finished fabrics with built-in sun protection and temperature control properties

Among the British exhibitiors, "moisture transference and thermal control" was a major talking point for Agmont UK. The company's latest range uses the branded Dryforce Intere process. This involves grafting a hydrophilic molecule onto a manmade hydrophobic fibre to fundamentally alter its character and so provide moisture transference and temperature control properties which the fibre would otherwise lack.

Agmont's European operations director told visitors to his stand that the treatment also renders the fabric bacteria and odour resistant. Agmont was one of l9 UK companies whose visit to the Lille show was organised by the British Wool Textile Export Corporation.

By Sonia Roberts