Just like the luminous summer 2019 fashions presented at the Fabrics show, the business climate is growing clearer, confirming milder days ahead. In the aisles, a gentle energy flows. International buyers are calm, positive and determined. “They’re focused and efficient in their selections,” is the feedback at the Japanese stand Maruwa. Exhibitors appreciate visitors’ fashion acuity. “This is a top-category audience that identifies in the blink of an eye the most refined pieces, like these delicate pleats,” said Franck Abolo, marketing director at Hang Gang Lace. At Colombo, makers of high-end Italian suitings, there was no doubt about it: “In Europe, the horizon has been clearing up for the past 18 months. Markets are regaining strength, optimism is returning, stylistic directions are underway and a clear upmarket shift has begun,” noted Andrea Rossi, while presenting a new ultra-light “cashmere 4.0” here in Paris. This new luxury product should contribute to the company’s growing turnover (up 30% over the winter), which is expected to hit €95 million in 2018.
Along with the numbers, morale is rising. This winter, Italy’s Group Emmetex described a more “relaxed” atmosphere at the show, with “customers who buy better and are making a distinct return to quality,” The foreign exchange market, dominated by a strong dollar, seems to be favouring business. For Eser Özgül, sales director at Turkey’s Guldogan, “Exports are increasing with strong demand from the U.S., the U.K. and Germany.” On the technical-fashion chessboard, Germany is dexterously advancing its pawns. “German garment manufacturers rely on our most innovative products: ultra-light pfc-free recycled nylon for example, or water-resistant nylon plain weaves treated with salt-shrinking,” explains Kouiju Takata, director of the weaving section of the Japanese group Itochu.
Driven by technology, niche markets are inspiring visitors. At Balas Textile, the Willskin innovation – a mosquito repellent fabric that respects both health and the environment – has attracted broad interest. “The insecticide is integrated into the fibres. It’s exactly the kind of smart technology development that is currently attracting brands,” said company president Olivier Balas. Brands that have also caught the green wave: “Polyesters are liked when recycled and demand is on the rise for reused polyamides. Fashion is looking for meaning.” This opinion is shared by print-specialist Ratti, whose eco-responsible collection, launched in 2017, is attracting the attention of major luxury houses. “The Houses are following the broadening of the eco-friendly range, rounded out this season by linen and hemp, along with cottons, lyocell and silks.” This last, however, creates a challenge for the silky sector, as the price of silk has moved sharply higher in recent months. “A year ago a kilo cost €50, last September it cost €70 and this month it’s worth €85,” noted Bruno Denis, president of Denis & Fils, with concern. Brand upscaling might in fact have its limits.
PREMIERE VISION FABRICS