MILAN — Vendors at the recent Moda In textile trade fair emphasized warm, traditional fabrics for fall-winter 2003-2004, in an effort to instill a sense of comfort.

They started by processing traditional fabrics of the season in non-traditional ways. Wool was washed, dyed and mixed with cotton; cotton was used like carded wool and silk took on a casual look. Classic patterns, such as plaid flannels, tweeds and hound’s-tooth checks were produced in micro and macro sizes. Wool was mated with silk, knitted fabrics with wovens and tweed paired with tulle, giving buyers a wide range of choices.

Throughout the fair, the richly worked fabrics were reminiscent of days gone by. Fabric designers have tapped into the past and come up with updated versions of retro looks that, with the help of new finishes, are easier to care for.

"We’ve put a lot of time and effort into developing new products and new finishes, and it seems to be paying off," said Roberto Federici, owner of Paolo Gilli.

Texture and finishes were in the spotlight at Manifattura Del Prato. Gauzy wools and wool checks and plaids were paired with a small percentage of stretch fibers for comfort.

The popularity of techno textiles seems to have moved away from fashion looks and settled into sportswear and outerwear applications.

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