By  on April 5, 1994

CERNOBBIO, Italy -- Mills were buoyant about spring 1995 business at Ideacomo here last week, although, as at other fabric fairs this season, there were plenty of complaints about the rising costs of raw materials.

Exhibitors at the four-day show, which concluded last Thursday, said prices for wool, cotton and silk had increased about 10 to 15 percent over a year ago, and all agreed that linen had risen even more. One mill executive said the cost of linen fiber had doubled over a year ago.

Another executive, Massimo Bianchi, commercial manager at Terraneo, said, "There has been a lot of speculation in linen, since it's still very popular."

Linen production had come to a near standstill in past seasons, when the fiber wasn't in demand, Bianchi noted, but its popularity reignited with the apparel collections for summer 1994, creating short supply and soaring prices.

To keep a lid on linen prices, most mills are blending the yarn with cotton, rayon and silk. They also said they were making an effort to absorb the overall price increases in raw materials. Nonetheless, some mills reported a 5 to 7 percent increase against last year's price lists.

However, the combination of the weak lira against the dollar and the slow but steady recovery of the U.S economy continued to benefit mills exporting there.

"Our U.S. sales are picking up again...because we work well with designer secondary lines and bridge collections," noted Kean Etro, commercial director and textile designer for Etro. "It's interesting to work with American designers because they have tons of new ideas and proposals, and with the strong dollar, they are also buying more expensive, higher-quality fabrics."

In contrast, most executives complained about the mired domestic Italian market, but they noted they are doing good business with Italian designers and apparel companies that export.

Overall attendance for the show dropped against last year's edition, from 3,373 to 3,184, with 21 U.S. visitors making the trip, seven less than last year.

The downturn was attributed to timing, with Ideacomo showing 10 days after Premiere Vision, the Paris fabric fair that ran March 10-14. In past seasons, the fairs were held more closely together. Still, most Ideacomo exhibitors appeared to like the later timing.

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