Springtime and men's sportswear for spring '91 have a lot in common. The first heralds new growth, splashes of color and unpredictable weather. The second ushers in new fabrics, splashes of color and unpredictable mixtures of styles.

In January, fashion designers and manufacturers at the Men's Fashion Association Press Preview in Los Angeles made these fashion forecasts:- The buzzword for spring '91 is microdenier fiber (microfiber).

Jeles Weinsieder, president of M. Julian, says, "It is a thousand times finer than the individual strand of a spider's web." He said that the fabric has undaunted strength and durability but "still feels as soft and fragile as silk or


You'll find this fiber in a few spring '91 collections (Alexander Julian, Farah and others). Keds Corp. is using it in casual footwear, since microfiber is extremely breathable, comfortable, water repellant and has the ability to hold vibrant colors.

Another fabric making its debut in men's sportswear this spring is acetate, a fiber long associated with women's wear. Now it has found its way into men's jackets, shirts and slacks by Hoechst Celanese. Lightweight and drapeable, it's ideal for springtime.

Other fabrics that will be popular this spring are silk, cotton chenille and chambray.

Members Only has added TR silk to its woven tops; designer Jhane Barnes has included silk in her collection, as well as soft cotton chenille and lightweight woven sweaters in cotton, rayon and lycra; and chambray is being tagged "the great equalizer," making it simple for men to change from business to casual by donning a blazer or a pair of jeans.

- Designers have traveled to exotic places to find inspiration for colors and prints found in their spring '91 collections.

Pendleton captures the diverse heritage and natural beauty of West Texas in its sportswear; Henry Grethel and J.C. Penney hit ports of call in the Mediterranean; and Ruff Hewn and Nautica sailed to the sun-drenched beaches of Hawaii.

The island influence permeates Ralph Lauren's new group of sportswear. Open shirts and linen trousers form the basis of in-town dressing. His new sport trouser is fuller, pleated at the top, and constructed with a waist band. His Polo Sport collection includes brightly colored activewear featuring lightweight high-tech and natural fiber fabrics. His Polo Golf collection captures the colors found in Palm and Pebble beaches.

Ron Chereskin found his colors and motifs in Mexico. Fish, lobsters and turtles dot his clothing. And his pleated and comfortable casual pants and shorts reflect colors from Puerta Vallarta's beautiful rock formations.

Members Only sportswear for spring has been influenced by Euro-styling, lawn sports (golf and croquet) and performance-driven sports (auto-racing). Colors are bold and fresh, with three distinctive color directions - marine, spice and tropical. Lightweight cardigan and pullover sweaters are also colorful. They can stand alone or can be matched with other clothing in this sportswear line.

And, of course, we all know where Arnold Palmer finds his inspiration. His sportswear collection for spring '91 is par for the golf course. He stays with polo shirts and tennis sweaters; they've been golfers' wardrobe staples for years. He also introduces a two-piece water-repellant, hooded rainsuit so lightweight that it folds away into the pocket of each piece.

Jockey International feels that short-sleeved knit shirts and color-coordinated pants are golf's sportswear of the past. It birdied a few holes with a collection of patterned cotton sweaters and shorts.

- Here are more trends you can look forward to:

Leather forecasters predict more people will be wearing leather and suede this spring. More and more designers are offering spring collections with lightweight, colorful and soft leather fashions that are practical and have visual appeal.

Hush Puppies Corp. knows that men want comfortable shoes, so it's betting that its new collection "Hush Puppies Bounce" will be hot - and cool. Their double rocker-bottom outsoles lessen the shock of foot contact on the ground.

Gilbert Hosiery expects an active spring with "just for fun" socks filled with colors, patterns and interesting textures.

Boston Prepatory Co. foresees a demand for longer and wilder shorts. "Retailers are already reporting strong sales in 23-inch knee-length shorts, particularly in fun patterns and plaids," it reports.

Although there will be an endless variety of floral and ethnic prints for spring, designers feel there will be ample room for color-blocking in everything from shorts, shirts, jackets and cotton-knit sweaters.

Fashion designers TFW, Bugle Boy, Cotter and Pepe say that young people have grown up in a "mediatized" world; as a result, they're unshockable.

Young men will not be bound by existing fashion styles; rather, they'll dress to express their individuality. Often, this will result in visually shocking mixtures of styles, colors and textures.

- During the MFA Media Preview, men's clothing designers and manufacturers were on hand to dispel a few misconceptions.

- Pendleton doesn't manufacture winter menswear only. It's a year-round menswear resource. For spring, it's featuring three collections: Country Traditionals, Lobo and High Grade Western Wear. In the Lobo collection, the bright madras plaid contains six colors, instead of the usual four or five.

- Joe Boxer makes more than shorts. It now has a complete line of underwear and loungewear. Baseball bats, gloves and pennants make an all-star appearance on underwear and sleepwear.

- Jockey International produces more than underwear. It also manufactures sportswear, swimwear and men's hosiery in a wide selection of styles. Hosiery for spring '91 are covered with plaids, argyles, polka dots, geometrics and abstract designs.

- Haggar manufactures more than dress slacks. Collections include casual slacks and shorts, sport coats and youthfully-cut suit/separates. And they are planning athletic fit apparel for the future.

- Contrary to what some people think, denim is still very much in. Easy, relaxed five-pocket jeans, baggy overalls and soft denim and chambray work shirts will be popular this spring. But the BIG news in denim is color - red, orange, yellow and tan. Printed and striped denim will also be popular.

- Pierre Cardin makes more than tailored clothing, formal wear and outerwear. The company also manufactures casual shirts, pants, underwear and a long list of accessories - ties, braces, belts, jewelry, hosiery, shoes and eyewear. Cardin has studied the economic climate and designed collections accordingly. These handsome accessories can update a man's wardrobe without making a huge dent in his wallet.

- Men's sportswear for spring '91 is blooming in local stores now. So swing by and buy your spring things now. Don't be one of those wallflowers who laments:

Spring has sprung,

The grass is riz,

I wonder where my wardrobe is?