Dollars and Sense

Foreign textile manufacturers deal with the effects of a weak dollar.

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NEW YORK — Textile manufacturers exhibiting at the winter round of international textile shows here in January will have to contend with a weak dollar and the first glimmers of uncertainty regarding the economic strength of the U.S. market.

New York textile week kicks off on Jan. 22 and includes Première Vision Preview, the Turkish Fashion Fabric Exhibition, Texworld USA and the Prefab: The Supima Premium Fabric Show.

The currency issue will be of particular concern at Première Vision Preview, which will take place at the Metropolitan Pavilion Jan. 23 to 24. European mills make up the bulk of exhibitors at the show, and the low value of the dollar compared with the euro has been a growing problem over the last several years. Philippe Pasquet, chief executive officer of the Première Vision Group, recently completed a "trend tour" in which he visited PV exhibitors across Europe. Currency was a topic of discussion with each and Pasquet said many mills are working on strategies to best cope with the fact that they must remain committed to the American market despite the difficulties.

"There is an impact for sure," said Pasquet. "Some European weavers are thinking they will have to concentrate on the 10, 15 or 20 of the best customers they have in the U.S."

The fierce competition among U.S. brands and retailers and their need to differentiate themselves through new and innovative fabrics continue to fuel optimism among European weavers, according to Pasquet. Mills are also aware of the macroeconomic pressures that have been impacting the U.S. consumers, including rising energy prices and difficulties in the housing market. However, early reads on the holiday season indicate sales might not slump as dramatically as predicted.

"There are some concerns for sure, but [weavers] do agree with us that it would be a huge risk to give up such a market even for a couple of years," he said. "We can't do anything regarding the exchange rate, but we have to be consistent in the way we approach main markets, and the U.S. is certainly a main market."

Première Vision Preview has established itself as the go-to show for the latest in quality and innovation, and the show's organizers are confident that the current format is proving itself a winner. Exhibition space is typically filled to capacity and the number of attendees has grown. According to Pasquet, attendance at the summer edition of the show grew to 3,729, up from 3,318 last January. For this January, Pasquet said 110 exhibitors have already registered, representing 13 countries. He expects the final number of exhibitors to reach 130.
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