The Autumn/Winter 2016-17 season is shaping up to be one focused on stretch, recovery and the dreamy soft hand which lures shoppers to touch, try and purchase. Denim mills exhibiting at Denim Premiere Vision in Barcelona (May 27-28) are rolling out upgraded fabrications with the performance benefits required to successfully compete in a market dominated by activewear.

Artistic Fabric Mills (AFM) is tackling stretch and recovery head on with the introduction of <3% Low Growth Denim, an innovation that was 10 years in the making. The collection of stretch denim offers high elasticity and superior recovery tested to guarantee <3% growth.

Growth control relates to the way fabrics hold their shape after stretching. Without it, jeans can develop bulges in the knee and waistband after multiple wears.

“Fabrics with higher elongation percentages provide amazing movement and comfort but, if not engineered carefully, can result in jeans becoming misshapen after prolonged wearing,” said Artistic Fabric Mills director Hasan Javed. “Our <3% low growth fabrics address this issue while offering superior stretch performance even at over 100 percent stretch. We are excited to see how these new fabrics will empower designers to pursue their design goals.”

With <3% Low Growth Denim, the Pakistan-based mill hopes to inspire denim designers to try new activewear silhouettes without fear of garments losing shape. The selection of <3% low growth fabrics come in various weights and shades as well as popular fiber technologies like Lycra Beauty and Coolmax.

Royo is zeroing on six denim elements that have changed the fashion landscape: fiber, color, weave, finishing, hand and performance, also known as “The Delements” for the Spanish-based mill’s A/W 2016-17 collection. Highlights include special blends in Suaveline with Tencel for a woolen hand feel, and brand new bi-stretch made with Lycra Dual FX and viscose blends. Named Hug, the stretch fabrication offers high recovery coupled with a subtle hand feel.

On the fashion end of the spectrum, Royo is exploring unique textures including a brand new leathery concept, called The SkinJack. The textile features a three-dimensional jacquard pattern and creates a slinky, second skin look. For a sportier vibe, the mill is dabbling with Scuba Denim, a line of denim with a Neoprene appearance. The material plays into fashion’s hi-tech, minimalistic mood—a trend that has outlasted most fashion critics’ expectations. In the casual category, Royo’s new Lama line taps into consumer demand for comfy and cozy, even in denim. Lama delivers a flannel finish with an extra soft texture.

Soorty technical manager Mian Sajeel Sohail described the mill’s collection with Lenzing, called Denim VIP, as a line for the “most important person in your life, as it is soft, smooth and truly unique.”

In addition to a new innovative colored slub, which Sohail said achieves amazing results, and some ultra-stretch fabrics, Soorty is planning to launch at the show a new blended Tencel and Modal with organic cotton. “We are really looking forward to make a complete eco-friendly and sustainable solution for our customers,” he explained.

As an early adopter of Tencel and Modal fibers, US Denim understands the appeal of soft denim. Over the years, the company has refined its capabilities in fiber blending to make premium fabrics which are as soft and smooth as butter. For A/W 2016-17, the company said it has added “oomph” by increasing its shade range with hues that span light to deep indigo to overdyeings. For extra sheen or structure, US Denim has developed and applied new coatings, further expanding its portfolio of options.

Likewise, Artistic Denim Mills (ADM) is emphasizing the importance of hand and feel with its F/W 2016-17 collection. A leader in ProModal fabrics, which combines Lenzing Modal and Tencel fibers for a luxurious hand, ADM is stepping up its game in performance. Its latest offerings include ProModal denim fabrics with blends of other performance fibers like Dual FX, Lycra Beauty, Coolmax, XFIT Lycra and Hyperstretch.

Softness is a crucial feature for the shirting category. Javier Morera of Unitin said its collection of light indigo Tencel shirting has already received a good response from Portugal, Italy, Holland and U.S. markets.

In particular, the Unitin is targeting the more formal segment of the market with its Denim City collection. Offerings includes three fabrications: a Tencel and cotton blend in plain indigo and a broad range of stripes; Tencel and linen with a distinct Tencel-meets-rustic touch; and 100 percent Tencel made in indigo as well as with novelty checks and stripes.

The company plans to step up its presentation with more washing samples, laser works and other eye candy for the season.