Calling for creativity

Carole Sloan, September 2, 2002

As we move into the homestretch for Decosit, the attitude of American fabric producers and suppliers seems more upbeat than at any time in the last couple of years.

The slight change in the value of the dollar vs. the Euro and other international currencies has had but a slight impact on their attitudes. But it is, if nothing else, a psychological factor in their thinking.

But talking with a couple dozen of the exhibitors bound for Decosit, DecoContract and TIP, the mood seems to be upbeat — not robustly so — but still more positive than in recent years.

From a product perspective, all three elements of the multiple Brussels fabric bonanza exhibitions are exuberant.

Design diversity is the key. Contemporary, which is an international strong statement, much more so than in the United States, continues — but with a different outlook.

Bold is not better, and minimalism is gone. There is definitely a middle ground in both color and design — and it seems to be very workable.

But at the same time, the lack of clarity at either end of the color spectrum seems to reflect a certain desire to appeal to all audiences.

And there is a significant move to classic looks, both in weaves, patterns and colors. The intriguing element is how designers are making the classics adapt to many moods — from outright traditional and elaborate renditions to spare interpretations.

It's amazing that with the economies worldwide in a tough mode one of the key themes of fabric introductions is the look of luxury — and the utilization of luxury fibers and yarns to make them. There is a plethora of silks, wools, linens and more to be shown. And many show a new sense of style for these traditional looks.

Then there is an updating of classic looks. For the traditionalist, the mood is lighter, airier, less formal. But there also is a contemporary interpretation that the offshore folks seem to be more into than the Americans.

But in keeping with the mood of the times, there seems to be less whimsy, humor and outright off-the-wall clever creativity that were the marks of these shows in the past. Maybe some of it will peek out around the corners and enliven the shows next week in Brussels.

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