NEW YORK—With representatives from retailers and brands such as Levi Strauss & Co., Target, Urban Outfitters, VF Corp., Express, Marc Jacobs, Bonobos, Gap, Citizens for Humanity and Tommy Hilfiger, the Jan. 20–21 run of the Kingpins denim trade show put the focus on denim innovation and technology.
Show sponsor Invista presented the North American launch of its Lycra Beauty campaign. First launched for denim at the Kingpins show in Amsterdam last year, Lycra Beauty is Invista’s effort to bridge shaping properties with comfort. The company conducted a series of fit tests using sensors that measure the force of fabric on the body, body scanning and subjective opinion about fit. The result is a set of fit standards to create jeans that shape the body comfortably.
“A lot of garments do a good job shaping, but they are not necessarily comfortable,” said Jean Hegedus, Invista’s global marketing director for denim. In denim garments, much of the shaping has to do with either a component of the product or placement of the pockets, but Lycra found the consumers wanted the denim fabric to do the shaping.
Lycra’s other innovations for denim include its DualFX with Lenzing’s Tencel, which combines the strength and soft hand of Tencel with the stretch and recovery of DualFX.
The company was also highlighting denim made with Invista’s Coolmax fibers blended with Tencel for a fabric with moisture-management properties and a soft hand.
The company also introduced Coolmax EcoMade, features a fiber made of 97 percent recycled plastic bottles.
Returning exhibitor Cone Denim was at the show with several new innovations, including a flame-retardant (FR) denim made in partnership with Westex by Milliken.
“[Milliken] has over 50 years of experience in the FR business,” said Kara Nicholas, Cone’s vice president of design and merchandising.
Cone also partnered with DSM Dyneema, producer of the ultra-strong Dyneema polyethylene fiber, to create lightweight, high-strength denim.
Other new developments at Cone include Coolmax/Tencel denim, a high-strength denim made with Invista’s Toughmax fibers, a denim made with Optimer Brands’ moisture-management fiber blend DriRelease and a denim made with Unifi’s moisture-management fiber Sorbtek.
“It’s part of a whole performance story,” Nicholas said. “People are looking to incorporate these attributes in denim but still keep the characteristics of denim.”
It’s all about comfort, she said. “Do the jeans stay comfortable in hot weather? Can you wear them in hot weather and cold?”
This year is also Cone Denim’s 110-year anniversary, and the company introduced a White Oak 110 Anniversary collection inspired by the archives at Cone’s White Oak facility in Greensboro, N.C.
The collection includes novelty dobby weaves, corded indigos and pin-dot fabrics for shirtings, bottoms and outerwear.
Cone also introduced a woven fabric that washes down to look and perform like a sweatshirt.
Mexico-based mill Kaltex was also showing denim with a strong twill line and black fill yarns as well as a new collection inspired by vintage French workwear, said Kaltex designer Cori Olson.
There were several new exhibitors, including Italian selvage denim mill Blue Selvage, a division of Italian mill Berto, which sells to brands such as Replay, Giorgio Armani, Louis Vuitton and Dolce & Gabbana.
Phil Fox, owner of Los Angeles–based Fox Fabrics, has been representing the line for five years, but this was the first time he showed at Kingpins.
“We have a good following in LA, but I thought [showing at Kingpins New York] was a good way to get exposure to more U.S. clients,” he said.
Mauritius-based FM Group/Firemount Textiles Ltd. Garments Manufacturing was also a first-time exhibitor. The vertical garment manufacturer produces more than 100 million pieces per month, according to General Manager Soma Sekharan, who said 55 percent of the company’s products are exported to the U.S. for clients such as PVH, Tommy Hilfiger and Guess.
Sekharan said he was showing at Kingpins to find new U.S. customers looking to take advantage of duty-free importing from Mauritius.
Although this was the first time ITV was showing at Kingpins, the Italian denim mill counts the U.S. as its third-largest market. The family-owned vertical manufacturer works primarily with Los Angeles premium-denim brands, but the advantage of showing at Kingpins was to see many companies in a central location.
“We can see all the brands at the same time,” said Barbara Gnutti, ITV export manager.
This was the first time at Kingpins New York for Pizarro S.A., but the Portuguese wash house showed at the Kingpins show in Amsterdam last year, said company representative Vasco Pizarro.
Pizarro S.A. was showing several special wash developments, including a substitute for sand blasting called Ecoblast and a laser ozone finish called IceLite, whichsaves up to 70 liters of water per garment, Pizarro said.
In July, Kingpins will move to a new location at 23 Wall St. in Manhattan’s Financial District.
The show next heads to Amsterdam April 13–18 for the second annual Denim Days, a hybrid consumer/trade event launched last year. Kingpins will skip its Los Angeles editions entirely this year, but founder Andrew Olah said plans are in the works to return in 2016.
“We’re planning something wonderful, but not this year,” he said.