THIS is only the second appearance at Interstoff Asia of Du Pont, designer and manufacturer of the 'miracle fibre' Lycra spandex. To mark the occasion, the company has organised a fashion show of fabrics incorporating Lycra. 'Although we took part in leading trade fairs in Europe and America, it was not until 1991 that we began promoting the Lycra brand name in Asia,' said Kin Mak, Du Pont China's regional marketing communications manager. 'We are stepping up our promotions in the Asia Pacific.' To meet demand in Asia, Du Pont also plans to expand production. The company's 10 Lycra manufacturing plants worldwide include those in Japan and Singapore. It is also making a US$90-million investment in Shanghai. Mr Mak said the three Asian plants would sell their output within the region. Lycra is blended with other fibres such as cotton, silk, wool or nylon. Its unusual ability to stretch up to 500 per cent and recover its original shape enhances the characteristics of the fabric by adding comfort, ease of movement, drape and body. Until recently, Lycra has been used in hosiery, women's and men's ready-to-wear clothing and sportswear, particularly for professional athletes for whom the material improves performance. Many women's fashion designers use fabrics incorporating Lycra to create innovative styles. Men's designers are now increasingly making use of the fibre's special characteristics. This trend began four or five years ago in Europe, when companies like Marks & Spencer and Bruno St Hilary started using suitable fabrics. Mr Mak said companies in Asia were gradually adopting these ideas. 'Korean companies are producing woollen fabrics blended with Lycra which are being used by Korean men's wear designers.' Taiwanese mills turn out cotton and polyester blends for their local garment industry. In conjunction with the International Wool Secretariat, Du Pont has chosen the fair to launch its Wool plus Lycra programme for woven fabrics for men's and women's wear. The two organisations aim to add value to wool woven fabrics and increase worldwide marketing potential.