A quiet edition of Premiere Vision Pluriel (premierevision.fr), which also hosted Expofil, Le Cuir à Paris, Indigo and Modamont, closed its doors in Paris’ Villepinte exhibition center on February 24 after a four-day run. The international fabric, fiber, leather and accessory salon was visited by over 50,000 professionals. This was 2.8% less than the March 2005 edition, a result that had to do with a complex economic climate and a particularly difficult calendar (there were simultaneous fashion shows in Italy and seasonal holidays in Germany and Asia). Despite those conflicts, though, the event maintained its international spirit by attracting visitors from 106 different countries. Overseas export countries accounted for 23% of visitors, with numbers of visitors from China and Hong Kong remaining stable compared to one year ago. There was, however, a strong 30% increase of visitors from South Korea. Another important development was the growing number of visitors from Great Britain (+15%), Hungary (+10%) and Russia (+30%).

To attract more visitors, support the difficult industry moment and the simultaneous edition of Texworld (texworld.messefrankfurt.com), this edition of PV offered PR appointments such PV Downtown, a post-fair chill-out happening where exhibitors and visitors could relax with drinks, music and chats from 9:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. On a more operative level, the fair also reorganized its layout. It debuted a newly redesigned format hosting four different areas: Fancy Seduction (silks, ribbons, laces, knits and fake furs), Tailored Distinction (suitings, woolens, shirtings and linings), Relaxed Attitude (cotton fabrics, denim, shirting and knits) and Active Pulsation (technical fabrics and knits). Some exhibitors, including Andrea Crespi of Eurojersey (eurojersey.it), appreciated the new layout. He said, “We like our new booth location since we are now presenting our collections just next door to other sportswear collections – differently from before. This new position offers us the opportunity to meet new potential clients.”

Less optimism seemed to pervade in the denim manufacturers’ area, a section that has seen a continual decrease in exhibitors the past few editions because PV’s dates are too late to meet the needs of the jeanswear market. In addition, the European denim market is now facing a long stagnation phase that indicatively started in September 2005 and hasn’t seemed to recover yet.

According to various insiders the only way out of this situation to offer innovative products that can provide the market with new inspiration. Fresh offerings at PV included Hellenic Fabrics’ new Nokon group of very dark blue denims that can provide interesting irregular effects and Isko’s (isko.com.tr) newly launched series of very lively color denims, which range from purple to bright green but are also offered in shades of warm brown. In addition, UCO (ucosportswear.com) together with Outlast presented its thermo-regulating denim with a cool hand touch and refreshing properties – the result of much experimentation. Bossa (bossa.com.tr), meanwhile, focused on very dark denims or super light-blue denims that look “frosty,” a hue that has almost been forgotten in recent seasons. And Gap (gapguneydogu.com) is experimenting on the use of alternative denims obtained by mixing cotton with natural fibers such as bamboo, silk, linen and hemp for innovative surface aspects.

To stay competitive in the present challenging market, denim companies are also continuing to invest or form joint ventures. Isko has announced an upgrade in facilities that aims to increase its annual manufacturing capacity to 200 million meters by June 2006 and UCO has signed a partnership agreement with the Indian textile group Raymond to create a joint venture company that can better support increasingly global market activities in Asia, Europe and the USA.

The show seemed to prove that the European textile business can survive its present difficulties as long as it reacts with creativity and liveliness. Despite its late timing, Premiere Vision still remains the international business place to show one’s skills — and top players continue to be there. Still, one hopes it starts considering more thoroughly the needs of its wide and varied groups of exhibitors and visitors.

— Maria Cristina Pavarini, Senior Features Editor