By  on October 31, 2007

MILAN — You can't always get what you want.

That was the feeling for many buyers at ready-to-wear and accessories trade fairs Touch, Neozone, Cloudnine and White, which ran in Milan Sept. 27-30.

Buyers were tantalized by the vast and sumptuous assortment for spring. But whether they could take advantage of it was very much governed by exchange rates.

The range of women's wear for the warmer months was varied, but silhouettes were generally straight, simple and looser-fitting.

"It's got to be comfortable in summer," said Finnish designer Jasmin Santanen, who is based in Paris and was making her second appearance at White with her namesake rtw line. "The trend is for loose tops that can be balanced with tight-fitting bottoms, like leggings. That way, a dress becomes like a shirt."

Pitti Immagine, which organized Touch, Neozone and Cloudnine, reported a slight increase in the number of buyers by comparison with the last edition in February, but a sizeable 11 percent jump in non-Italian representation, which made up over a fifth of the 6,385 total. Notably, Japanese buyers dominated the international mix, despite the weakness of the yen against the euro.

But therein lay the problem, for some at least.

Izumi Uroshima, a buyer for Hanshin, a department store in Osaka, Japan, made her first visit to the fairs. She said she enjoyed what was offered but that spending power was limited by the struggling yen.

"The exchange rate is a problem," Uroshima said. "We cannot put a higher price on spring [clothes]. You can get away with it for fall, but Japanese customers aren't prepared to pay more for spring. That makes it difficult to find what we are looking for."

Many exhibitors shared this frustration and applied it to other currencies against the euro, notably the U.S. dollar. But Alessandro Moneta, sales manager at San Andres, said designers can do little about it if their costs are high.

"We try to calibrate our prices but it's difficult because we use expensive materials," Moneta said. "Anyway, 'Made in Italy' is important for foreign customers and they are prepared to pay more for this."

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