MILAN — Mills exhibiting at the Filo yarn fair were looking to rebound after a drop-off in sales last year.

Italy's yarn industry is still in a "holding pattern," according to SMI-ATI, the Italian federation of fashion, clothing and textile industries, with 2007 sales slipping 1.8 percent to 3.4 billion euros, or $4.66 billion at average exchange, for the year.

Despite the anemic dollar, participation at the yarn fair improved from last year's edition. The 29th edition of the fair expanded to include 87 exhibitors in the winding corridors of a sixth-century former convent, Palazzo delle Stelline, March 19 and 20.

Marchi & Fildi, which united two Italian family-run mills last year, unveiled a joint venture with Turkey's Abalioglu Textile Industries. The Biella-based spinner will acquire a 50 percent stake in an Abalioglu mill in Turkey. In turn, the Turkish group will acquire a 50 percent share in a Marchi & Fildi dyeing and finishing company.

"In an increasingly globalized context, one has to join forces," said Massimo Marchi, president of Marchi & Fildi Group. "This partnership will allow us to develop the kind of production increasingly demanded by the market."

Luxe blends were a common trend. Botto Poala unveiled Best, a 70 percent wool-30 percent mink blend, in a rich camel color. The touch of mink, most likely destined for outerwear, is priced to compete with cashmere, costing 43 euros, or about $67.60, a kilo, compared with prices of around 150 euros, or $235.70, a kilo for pure cashmere.

Marchi & Fildi introduced a similar product dubbed Zephir, 70 percent mohair, 30 percent silk, in muted autumn greens and reds. Another offering, Jazz, is a metallic gray made from 15 percent steel woven with 65 percent viscose and 20 percent wool.

First-time exhibitor Garanti Iplik offered a range of cashmere-cotton and cashmere-silk blends in neutral grays and browns with a few clear brights, including pink and turquoise blue.

"Natural fibers in these blends have snob value, but they are purchasable," said export manager Burak Adali.

The Turkish company exports 30 percent of its mélange yarns to Italy, with prices ranging from 15 euros, or about $23, to 42 euros, or $65, a kilo.Eco-friendly fibers were prevalent at many stands, following a strong presence at the fall 2007 edition. Supersoft Milkofil, an organic yarn made from milk protein, starred at Filati Maclodio's display, where a featherlike pile of loose, undyed cream-colored fibers invited touch. Also available in a blend, the silky, antibacterial yarn has received interest from clothing, undergarment and bed linen producers.

Recycled and organic cottons were also present, but Miroglio introduced its first line of recycled synthetics, called Mirhon NewLife. Polymer chips from plastic bottles are cut, ground and melted before becoming yarns used in everything from curtains to backpacks in a wide range of colors, including mustard yellow, royal purple and dark pink.

"We expect this to become our base product in three to five years," said Stefano Cochis, managing director of Miroglio. "It costs about 20 percent more to produce, but we're keeping our margins lower. We believe in it and have had enormous interest so far."

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