ATTENDANCE DROP MARS INTERSEASON

Byline: Kristin Schelter

FLORENCE--The second edition of Interseason, a two-day Italian fair showing the latest additions to spring-summer 1995 fabrics and first examples of collections for next fall and winter, was a disappointment for fair organizers, exhibitors and visitors.
The fair, organized by Pratotrade and held here earlier this month at Fortezza da Basso convention center, failed to attract a significant number of visitors or exhibitors.
Only 40 mills participated, compared with 60 exhibitors at the last edition. Half the exhibiting mills were based in Prato, and the rest were from various regions of Italy, including Como and Florence. The only foreign exhibitor was Ulmia Steiger & Descher, a German mill from Ulm.
Exhibitors complained about the lack of visitors. All in all, 1,108 showed up, 20 percent fewer than at the last fair. There were 1,015 Italians and 93 foreigners; only seven Americans attended.
Interseason, which made its debut in May, was designed to cater to the continuous demand for new fabrics in the apparel market, a sector that no longer limits itself to two collections a year. The event gives the mills a venue to show their most current textiles, even after the traditional fair season has passed. Interseason was also developed at a time when the Prato mills, led by Pratotrade president Mario Maselli, felt a need to stimulate the sluggish market.
Now, it appears, the tide has turned. Many of the companies said they already had all the orders they could handle. Despite the turnout at the fair, the mills generally reported business was good.
"The Italian textile market is booming, and many of the Prato mills are saturated with orders," Maselli said.
Although quite a few mills initially liked the idea of Interseason, many exhibitors admitted that the fair schedule was already rigorous enough. Between Prato Expo, Ideacomo, Ideabiella and Premiere Vision in France, there is little time to squeeze another fair into the schedule.
"The fair's timing and location are good, but I think the mills are fed up with the relentless fair schedule," said Edoardo Miroglio, managing director of Alba-based Miroglio Tessile SpA.
Exhibitors also attributed the low attendance to the fair's poor publicity.
"The timing of the fair is good, and if there were another edition, we would like to return. It's just a shame that there wasn't more publicity and that so few visitors showed up," said Lino Amadeo, a sales representative for Fisac Tessuti di Como, a mill in Grandate, Italy, that works primarily with the European market, but also sells to some American retailers.
Maselli, head organizer of the fair, was perplexed by the results.
"I am particularly puzzled because we increased our publicity budget and even placed ads in magazines. We also sent out more invitations to foreigners,"said Maselli. But he seemed optimistic, despite the disappointing results.
"Interseason is an investment in the future," he said. "Maybe this fair doesn't make sense now, but things could change."
Popular fabrics for last-minute additions to spring-summer 1995 included crepes in linen and rayon, cotton bouclés and silk shantungs. As for colors, pastels and dusty pastels were selling well in pink and pea green. In prints, small florals were hot, in polyester and rayon georgettes. Bold-colored and pastel polyester and rayon satins sold extremely well in red, bright emerald green and baby pastel blue.
One U.S. buy centered on shantung silks in creamy pastels, reported Amadeo of Fisac Tessuti.
For next fall, soft and stretchy cheviot wool and Lycra spandex blends were the choices for Americans, and would be used for Sixties-inspired blazers and suits, said Stefano Rigotti, sales representative for Master Loom, Pistoia, Italy. Wool crepes were also popular. Grays and browns were the colors of choice, as the trend moved away from lighter beiges and tans.
Organizers said the dates for the next edition had not been set.

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