By  on February 6, 2007

MILAN — Italian textile mills are focusing on producing higher-quality products and ramping up efforts to put a new spin on popular jersey and viscose fabrics as they head into next week's Milano Unica trade show.

The fourth edition of the combined fabric shows Moda In, Prato Expo, Ideacomo, Shirt Avenue and Ideabiella will run at Milan city's fairgrounds from Feb. 13 to 16.

Textile collections for summer 2008 will be presented by 681 mostly Italian exhibitors, who have been buoyed by an improved economic climate for the Italian textile industry, driven by a growing desire for more expensive luxury fabrics. Many textile manufacturers are opting to boost the quality and feel of traditional luxury fabrics through new technology. Riding the crest of the trend for jersey in the fashion industry, specialist Dondi Group closed 2006 with a 25 percent rise in sales, to 20 million euros, or $25.1 million at average exchange.

"It's a golden moment for jersey right now and it's important for us to keep proposing it differently," said Guido Capelli, product manager for Dondi Group.

Based in Carpi, the mill experimented with new jerseys for spring and summer woven from ultrafine cotton, cupro and silk to give liquid-like structure. As an alternative to using metal fibers that produced a jersey that was uncomfortable on the skin, Dondi Group mixed viscose with polyester to produce the same shiny effects. Capelli said the mill also wove some jacquards with floral and geometric designs.

Lanificio del Casentino worked with textile structure to create a collection of fluid fabrics in silk, cotton and linen in pearly hues of gray, white and pink.

"Shiny and opaque looks to fabrics are in right now," said Alfio Aldrovandi, general director of Lanificio del Casentino. "There has to be some movement to the fabric, which we do with the weave. Manufacturers want clean-look textiles that aren't as washed as they were in the past."

For extra shine, the mill developed a filmy transparent plastic coating in silver, gold and bronze that was applied to some jacquards.

"It's very subtle and it resists many machine washes," said Aldrovandi, adding that the mill, which increased volume by 20 percent in 2006, was slowly regaining lost ground in the market, after it reorganized its internal structure and upped the quality of its fabrics.

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