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Cinde W. Ingram

Performance fabrics expand at Showtime

While most performance fabric manufacturers described Showtime as steady or good, Tom Byrnes said the response at the Liora Manne booth was unbelievable.

In addition to fabric swatches, the designer's vibrant colors and patterns appeared on mannequins, ottomans, rugs and pillows constructed to go outdoors. "We're getting a lot of credit for uniqueness of design," said Byrnes, marketing director, Liore Manne.

Howard Ebert, sales manager, Swavelle Mill Creek, paused between appointments with fabric buyers and jobbers to comment that the show was very good for his company. "We're seeing good people," he said.

Todd Nifong, president, Altizer & Co., elaborated on the quality of customers who came to see its Al Fresco line of outdoor fabrics, displayed on large designer wings that buyers could flip through easily to hone in on specific patterns or colors. "We're seeing viable customers," he said. "We're showing new constructions and a lot more colors." Spice, berry and chambray with blue continue to be popular choices.

Two themes that dominated last week's four-day show were confidence in the stability and delivery of vendors, and the addition of innovation and extra value to product despite rising costs.

Although Outdura uses the June Showtime event as a way to spend time with customers rather than introduce new fabrics, CEO CP Davis described the show as better than anticipated.

Glen Raven was among the growing number of fabric suppliers who lined up a full schedule of appointments with buyers, many looking to take Sunbrella performance fabrics indoors rather than out. Use of Sunbrella in the residential market is growing every year, said Suzanne Roberts, vice president and business manager, furniture fabrics. Glen Raven's showroom showed off new awnings as guests arrived. Inside the showroom, new fabrics incorporated sophisticated shades of pink as well as purple and orange.

Orange provides a beautiful counterpoint to the deep olive and dense natural plant dye colors that are forecast to replace acid green shades in apparel and home décor, according to Jane Matteson, founder of Trend Strategy service and a principal of Matteson Design and Consulting. Matteson presented color and product trends in an educational seminar, "Inspirations for Swarovski Elements: Spring/Summer 2012."

Classic, the first of five emerging lifestyle trend focuses, includes a back to the earth philosophy with high saturations of color. Romantic/Chalk describes another trend featuring whitewashed looks and layers of transparency with a counterpoint color of fushcia. Progressive was a third trend that incorporates dark gray, rocklike surfaces with the positive energy of sports in colors that range from soft opalescent green and opaque turquoise to smoked topaz and bronze. The Harmony/Sand trend brings nomadic and tribal looks together in a more modern way with colors rooted in earthbound matter with beiges, yellow neutrals and rusted browns. A fifth trend, Glamour, plays on burnished tones of precious metals with warmer browns and golds.

Microfibres expanded its Outlook fabrics into flock patterns and adapted three of its best-selling patterns from its residential line for outdoor use. "We have the capability of doing lots of color," said Tom Himes, vice president of business development. "There's no shortage of pigments that we've developed for our residential line."

The Victor Group also was incorporating interior designs and textures into its outdoor offerings "A lot of our customers have an outdoor need," said Lynn Linnon, project manager. "It's a really fun collection to design."

Indoor/outdoor velvets, sheers, European wide weaves and 100% solution dyed acrylic fabrics gained attention at Harry Harry, which appeared for the first time at the U.S. fabric fair with Australian fabric designs milled in Italy. "We've been overwhelmed," owner Tanya Cruice said of the response from buyers. "We're trying to create a signature line. People are starting to see the value in European product."

One challenge for her company was that someone snipped a few inches off the sheers and fabric samples. Cruice said the show management agreed to post tighter security after hours to prevent access by competitors who may copy the fabric designs.

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