Laminated fabrics where the permanence of the bond is assured by the marriage of like-to-like make the news in the latest collection from leading UK knitter Welbeck Fabrics.

In these fabrics the weight of the yarn and the construction of the cloth itself are precisely similar, but the colours and textures of the two sides provide an element of contrast, not merely of colour but of texture. Matt surfaces reversing to gloss are expected to be particular favourites with garment designers creating collections for the spring/summer 2002 season.

Chintz-like glazed surfaces are a major fashion story in their own right, while light reflecting treatments lend a luxuriously liquid look to the finished fabric. Meanwhile both moire and two-tone colour change effects make a comeback to the lingerie fabric scene.

Other processes aimed at giving more scope to the imaginative designer include the widespread use of perforation. "At the more avant garde end of the market this might well involve apparently random laser-cut slashes," said Welbeck. But the company expects it will be the perforated fabrics using holes rather in the manner of printed polka dot patterns that will prove the most commercial application of this decorative technique.

On the same wavelength, power nets - some with spacing so broad as to resemble fishnet hosiery - move beyond their usual territory of the foundation garment trade to take their place in the street and urban sportswear market.

By contrast, lightweight, knitted fabrics of the type traditionally used by the underwear trade simulate the look of tweed and come in the muted tones of classic menswear cloths.

Elsewhere in the collection melanges, pearly and marbled patterns, are executed in mixtures of powdery pastel colours.

By Sonia Roberts