Blue/black, a colour graphically described by the majority of exhibitors as "ink," proved to be one of the fashion success stories at the recent Tissu Premier textile fair in Lille.

And as exhibitors were still analysing their orders, the next most popular shade was proving to be the red most often also seen as a colour for ink.

Just as these colours seemed to favoured by exhibitors of all the nations represented among the 400 manufacturers taking part in the show, so they seemed equally popular with buyers of every nationality at a trade fair which is growing more and more internationally oriented.

Of the 10,343 visitors to the most recent session, nearly half - 5,059 to be precise - were non-French with the greatest number, 1,287, coming - not surprising perhaps in view of Lille's geographical situation - from neighbouring Belgium.

But the biggest upturn in visitor numbers were the Americans, along with buyers from the Middle East and Eastern Europe, who reflected the growing importance of these regions as sources for ready-to-wear clothing which will ultimately be sold back for retail in Western Europe.

One of the factors increasingly attracting buyers from all quarters to Lille is the emphasis that Tissu Premier exhibitors now place on speedy turnround of orders. Most now promise a maximum of l5 days for delivery of stock for the coming winter and 40 days on lines suitable for summer 2002.

Visitors are not just there to buy however. The conferences and seminars which back the commercial business are increasingly well attended and are turning the fair into a forum of increasing importance to the entire global market.

This year, too, Tissu Premier reached out to those who still can't find time to fit this event into their already crowded travel schedules with the provision of a website focusing not just on the colours, textures and constructions of cloth seen at the show but suggesting ways in which these fabrics are likely to be employed by the  men's, women's, and children's ready-to-wear industries. And it is the organisers' intention to provide regular updates at least every two months throughout the year.  

By Sonia Roberts