British exhibitors were thin on the ground at Tissu Premier in Lille last week, with just three brands showing to the market compared with about 25 in previous seasons.
However, visitors from the UK said Tissu remained an important show, adding that its early dateline and ease of travel were also key attractions.
The trend forum was the highlight for many, with neutral shades, metallics, and bright colours such as violet and citrus identified as key womenswear looks for spring 08.
UK and Irish visitors were up 1% on last year, with 298 making the trip, while overall visitor numbers were down 3.4% to 5,592 over the two days.
As well as using the show to gauge early trends, buyers said they were also looking for inspiration for faster turnaround collections for early autumn 07.
Trimmings supplier Junior Hagen was showing for the first time in more than four years, and director Eric Hagen said the show had been busy from a UK perspective.
"It's so easy for buyers to get here that we have had a lot of appointments," he said. "Generally buyers only order samples from fabric shows, but we make good contacts here and then the bigger firms buy from our factory in China."
Also exhibiting at Tissu Premier for the first time in four years was textiles supplier Heathcoat Fabrics. Apparel sales manager Linda Doyle said: "We have to be here to get European business. There is no comparable show in the UK, so buyers have to come, but the fact there aren't many other British exhibitors does not affect our decision to be here."
Key menswear trends at the show included pale grey linen, crisp white cotton and coloured denim. In kidswear, bold mini repeat prints and floral patterns proved popular. A washed, faded look complemented the growing trend for organic fabrics.