By  on March 30, 2010

MILAN — Manufacturers emphasized lower-priced blended yarns rather than fancy fibers during the Filo yarn fair.

Italian spinners blamed the soaring costs of raw materials and the economic slump for higher yarn prices that resulted in the development of fewer novelty items for the season.

The 33rd edition of the trade show, which ended its two-day run at the Centro Congressi Stelline here on March 18, showcased fall collections featuring noble fibers mixed with cotton and nylon and feather-light yarns. As a reaction to rising cashmere prices, alpaca dominated fall offerings with its similar lightweight, soft handle. Colors varied between autumnal hues and somber formal colorways such as gray and black.

Attendance decreased 8 percent to 2,500, compared with the October 2009 show. The number of exhibitors dropped 14 percent to 70.

“We’ve seen a little improvement at the start of this year, but the crisis is wearing thin,” said Mariarosa Dissegna, sales manager for Marchi & Fildi. “The industry just can’t continue to lose clients.”

Enabling clients to increase orders was at the top of many suppliers’ agendas. In a first for Ghezzi, a producer of artificial yarns, fibers were mixed with natural qualities such as wool and silk.

“We’re not necessarily trying to get new clients by adding noble fibers, but rather to convince existing clients to buy more of our products,” said Anna Adami, sales manager for Ghezzi.

Competitive pricing was a key topic at Biella-based spinner Marchi & Fildi.

“We’ve mixed wool with cotton to create lower price points and the possibility of volumes,” said Dissegna, highlighting a rustic-looking yarn, dubbed Vermont, made of wool, cotton and nylon. “The challenge is to create quality yet at an affordable cost.”

New novelties included a core-spun wool fiber — a process that offers woolen fibers an increased elasticity. Still, Marchi & Fildi played it safe with color by showcasing classic shades of gray evoking sartorial tradition. A series of gray mélanges were also unveiled at Filature di Pollone, and dark colors from slate to midnight blue and black were seen at Botto Poala.

This was the first collection from Botto Poala under new owner Zegna Baruffa Lane Borgosesia, which acquired the Biella-based spinning mill in December. An overhauled collection featured a wider range of yarns and mercerized wools, as well as the reintroduction of fantasy yarns.

“These types of fibers had been abandoned, but using Zegna Baruffa’s production capabilities, we plan to take advantage of our potential in this area,” said Nicoletta Meriglio, development manager for Botto Poala.

Highlighting a move away from trans-seasonal knitwear, many exhibitors opted to reinvent chunky wool and alpaca yarns with natural tonal effects using twisted and flecked fibers.

“There is a downsizing of cashmere now that the prices are rising,” said Maurizio Maffeo, chief executive officer at Biella-based spinner Filatura di Pollone. “We’re seeing more demand for woolen blends.”

The company’s fall offerings included flecked tweedy tones and mélange yarns in autumnal colors.

Warm and earthy tones were prevalent at the fair, such as those at Botto Poala with rusted or oxidized surface effects. Alpaca mixes dominated Davifil’s seasonal offer in brown hues.

“Italian yarn prices already appear high compared to Chinese competitors, but with the increase in raw materials we have no option,” said Alessandro Rostellato, sales manager for Davifil. “There are less spinners, so naturally wool prices are rising.”

It was a similar story at Knoll Yarns, producers of woolen yarns with a traditional British look.

“The price of wool has risen as much as 25 percent,” said David Oxley, sales manager for Knoll Yarns. “There are no longer the stockpiles of raw materials, and Australian farmers are simply diversifying to cope with the [economic] crisis, leaving less product to go around. We can’t absorb such high price hikes, so we have to make the customer aware of this.”

Knoll Yarns unveiled a series of colorful contemporary woolen yarns with mélange effects in earthy tones of hazelnut brown, sage green and pale gray juxtaposed against orange, yellow and violet.

Silk specialist Cascami Seta highlighted new bouclé qualities blended with alpaca.

“Fibers have a voluminous, yet vintage effect,” said Maria Chiara Botto Poala, sales manager for Cascami Seta, where novelties included a waterproof silk. “Finished fabric is usually given a waterproof treatment but, with our new yarn, each individual fiber is coated so it doesn’t absorb water.”

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