Exhibitors will highlight textiles and prints for spring-summer 2009 at the California Market Center April 14 to 16, emphasizing quality and innovation to stand apart from lower-priced competitors.
Absolut Textiles, for example, blends metallics in organza and mixes wool with silk, hemp, polyamide and polyester to yield lighter-weight fabrics, and D&N Textiles offers mesh accentuated with a dot print and floral embroidery. Crawford Textile Corp., a North Carolina mill that has been in business for more than three decades, doubled its organic cotton offerings — available in novel styles such as thermal knits and French terry as well as standard jersey — to make up half the line.
"Our advantage is our emphasis on...the quality of the fabric," said Tim Roncone, Crawford's Los Angeles-based sales representative. "If we try to chase price, I feel like everybody else in town."
Nevertheless, textile exhibitors said they are pursuing orders late in the season. Michael Shapiro, president of D&N in Beverly Hills, will display fabrics from the holiday collection and spring lineup. Since retailers are waiting as long as they can to place orders for apparel collections, manufacturers are also delaying their orders for fabrics toward the end of a selling season, he noted.
"The stores are conservative now because the consumer dollars aren't where they were," Shapiro said.
Because of the uncertain economy, textile vendors said price is one of their biggest concerns, along with escalating competition from improving factories in China and India. To help offset rising costs, fabric firms are providing concessions to customers. Epic Textiles Inc., based in Vernon, Calif., offers to consolidate shipments for customers from the mills it represents in Japan and Italy into one delivery. The company has also lowered the minimum yardage for eco-friendly, yarn-dyed fabrics and knits to 300 from 1,000.
Schoeller Textil USA, the Seattle-based branch of the Swiss textile maker that has more than 100 years of experience and estimates reaching $100 million in sales by 2010, is making adjustments to deal with the weakness of the dollar.