By  on June 20, 2005

MILAN — A strong euro and increasing competition from China and other low-cost countries spurred Italian manufacturers showing at Modaprima to find new ways to be competitive.

In addition, the interest of Japanese buyers visiting the midprice fashion and accessories show raised hopes of a recovery, as most exhibitors lamented a slow 2004, following an even slacker 2003. The outlook for 2005, on the other hand, was generally optimistic, with exhibitors reporting a promising first five-month period this year.

“The medium range has been repositioning itself, focusing on an attractive price, and highlighting fashion trends and quality, turning away from more basic items,” said Luisa Pandolfi, director of Modaprima. Pandolfi was pleased with the number of foreign visitors at the exhibition. “More than half of the visitors came from outside Italy, mainly from Japan and Europe,” he said.

That said, Modaprima, which ran May 29 to 31, reported a drop in visitors to 2,654 from 2,936 last year. 

While the general trends ranged from African and gypsy folk skirts to floral patterns and distressed or embroidered fabrics, most exhibitors focused on expanding their core business with a wider product offering. Case in point: Paolo Busatto, owner of Maglificio Venezia, said for spring 2006, he started developing a total look under his Carla B label.

“Knitwear is our core business and our forte, but we have expanded into T-shirts, coordinated looks and even ventured into denim, from a formal working woman to a more practical and dynamic one,” said Busatto.

The company showed viscose crepe skirts and tops with jungle motifs that played with transparencies, T-shirts splashed with strokes of color or sequins and sheer blouses in strong, sunny oranges or deep green.

“We are showing more of a holiday look now,” said Busatto. However, he was vocal about the show’s organization and said that while exhibitors strive to find new ways to be more competitive, fair organizers are not as reactive. “They should try to be more dynamic, developing marketing skills, opening up new markets and attracting new exhibitors,” he said.

Maglificio Venezia saw a 10 percent drop in sales in 2004, but Busatto said he’s already seen 10 percent growth in the first five months of the year and orders are in line with last summer’s.

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