FLORENCE — A new sense of coziness was infused in many of the collections unveiled at the latest edition of Pitti Filati, which closed on June 30.For the fall 2018 season, several high-end Italian spinners exhibiting at the trade show presented rich, voluminous yet lightweight yarns.For example, Botto Giuseppe presented a fluffy merino wool yarn with a dégradé boucle effect, while Zegna Baruffa’s collection included featherweight hairy yarns blending merino wool and alpaca, as well as patterned yarns with textured effects, gauzed mohair and Lurex blends with a velvet-like finishing.This sense of comfortable softness was at the core of the Lineapiù collection as well, which featured baby camel yarns, also incorporating cashmere and viscose fibers for a multicolor effect, as well as yak combined with wool or baby alpaca. This was also mixed with Lurex for added shimmer, while curly mohair was dyed in bright colors.Performance, easy care yarns were another focus at the trade show.While Zegna Baruffa unveiled 100 percent wool yarns for activewear for tennis, golf and sailing, Tollegno 1900 combined craftsmanship and technology in the #24hourworkandleisure collection of performance yarns that combine natural and high-tech fibers. The range includes the Sixtywool Topwash, a blend of extra-fine merino wool and polyacrylic, as well as Cooper and Abarth, where merino wool is mixed with nylon. International textile conglomerate Sudwolle Group — which presented in Florence the Sudwolle Group Italia SpA, a new company collecting different spinners including Safil, Gruppo Tessile Industriale and Hf Filati — showed at Pitti Filati the result of its collaboration with Cordura: a new yarn that combines the high-tech nylon Cordura with merino wool.Other lines presented by Sudwolle Group Italia spanned from organic yarns, rendered in a color palette inspired by fruits and flowers, to the exclusive collection. Along with several extra-fine and superfine merino wool yarns, that collection was enriched with the soft and voluminous Yik, a blend of extra-fine merino wool and yak.Sustainability was another key trend at the fair.For the fall 2018 season, Filpucci, which is marking its 50th anniversary this year, enlarged its collection of Re.Verso upcycled, reengineered yarns with the introduction of Baby Camel Re.Verso, which combines recycled baby camel and extra-fine merino wool with Divette, a superfine yarn that blends recycled cashmere and superfine wool.Botto Giuseppe expanded its sustainable Naturalis Fibra collection with the launch of Aroha, a new yarn featuring wool from mulesing-free New Zealand farms.[caption id="attachment_10938882" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Botto Giuseppe Aroha yarn[/caption]This season Pitti Filati attracted 5,350 visitors, about half of whom were from outside Italy. In particular, the trade show marked a significant return of buyers from Russia and the Far East. While the number of visitors from the U.K., the U.S. and France remained stable compared to last year, the number of Italian buyers dropped 2 percent.“The U.S., the Far East and Northern Europe grew 20 percent in the first semester of the year, while the Italian market is pretty slow due to the problems of the distribution channel,” said Botto Giuseppe managing director Silvio Botto, referring to the country's lackluster economy.International markets are definitely driving the growth of Botto Giuseppe, which expects to close the year up 5 percent compared to 2016, when the company registered revenues of 58 million euros.“The first semester of the year is closing with a small increase and we are quite positive about the next months,” said Lineapiù president and chief executive officer Alessandro Bastagli. “We forecast to close 2017 in line with 2015.” Separately, as reported, Bastagli has finalized the acquisition of luxury niche brand Shanghai Tang, which he acquired from Compagnie Financière Richemont.In 2016, Lineapiù registered a 1 percent drop in sales from 43.5 million euros in the previous year.Among the key markets for Lineapiù, Bastagli cited the U.S. “The U.S. is performing well following the small decrease of last year,” he said. “It’s a market which is constantly evolving and is reacting to the boom of digital.”Like its competitors, Lineapiù had to revise the prices of its collections this season due to the cost of wool, which recently jumped 60 percent. “We tried to increase prices as little as possible and the fact that we have rich stocks helped us,” Bastagli said. “Now wool’s prices seem to be stable but I doubt they will go down again.”At Pitti Filati, Fondazione Lineapiù launched the first edition of the Talents Lineapiù program, aimed at supporting emerging knitwear designers. Twice a year, starting from September, a jury will assign an award to a designer who, for six seasons, will be provided with free Lineapiù yarns to produce his or her samples.“I know so many students who attended fashion school but after graduation they decided to do something completely different,” Bastagli said. “For this reason I wanted to address this program to individuals that are actually trying to build a name for themselves in the fashion industry.”The initiative promoted by Lineapiù was part of a bigger group of projects launched at Pitti Filati dedicated to up-and-coming talents.These included the second edition of Loro Piana’s Knit game talent contest, which saw the participation of students from London’s Royal College of Art, Paris’ École Supérieure des Arts Appliqués Duperré, Milan’s Politecnico and the Iuav University in Venice. In addition, Fondazione Pitti Immagine Discovery organized the eighth edition of its Feel The Yarn talent search, while Pitti’s organizers teamed with Modateca Deanna, The Woolmark Company, Max Mara and Avant Toi to host a runway show of the knitwear creations of the students of Rome’s Accademia Costume & Moda.Customer care was also one of the main topics highlighted by spinners at the fair. Among the new services introduced by companies to offer a high-end service to their most loyal clients, for example, Tollegno 1900 provided them with the “Fancy Stitches Box,” a package including 30 cards with several knitting stitches made with the collection’s most significant products.New, innovative solutions also came from international companies, including Hong Kong-based UPW, which produces luxury yarns manufactured at its factory in Dongguan, China, and which presented its fall 2018 collection in an art gallery outside Pitti Filati. With Europe as its biggest market, followed by the U.S., the company aims to explore new boundaries in the textile business with new distribution model. In particular, UPW, which relies on an efficient stock service, has recently launched an app that enables clients to order online unlimited quantities of yarn, pay by credit card, and have the products immediately delivered to their headquarters or to the factory manufacturing their products.
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