MILAN — Italian textile mills are bracing for harder times.
Many mills, which will show fall and winter 2009-2010 collections at textile trade fair Milano Unica next week, said the economic crisis had already put a dent in sales for the summer 2009 season — a trend they expect to continue.
“We had a marvelous start to the year, but the summer collection’s sales have been terrible,” said Simone Canclini, chief executive officer of Canclini. “The economic crisis for families is hitting us hard, which makes us worried about 2009.”
Fabio Grazioli, business director for Tessuti di Sondrio, said, “Though we are in line with last year’s sales, we suffered a lot with the summer 2009 season. It’s difficult to value just how much, but certainly the situation isn’t good.”
Although most mills see difficult days ahead, some executives held out hope the dollar will gain value on the euro and that the U.S. presidential election will give the U.S. economy a boost.
Paolo Zegna, Milano Unica’s president, said the partial strengthening of the dollar against the euro recently hadn’t yet registered positively on the Italian textile industry.
“We hope that after the American presidential election, the U.S. market will go back to being the locomotive of the world’s economy,” Zegna said.
Many mills chose to battle the market by making investments on home turf.
“We all know the situation and we can’t do anything about it,” said Gianni Ferrario, co-manager of denim mill Gentex. “We recently invested into our mill’s machinery and production processes to show we are optimistic about the future, and the challenge now is to be even more flexible and fast to hold onto the little space we have in the market.”
Gentex found it difficult to reach its annual production average of 5 million meters of fabric, added Ferrario. However, he predicted a 10 percent increase for 2008 on last year’s sales of 30 million euros, or $41 million at current exchange, because of new fabrics the mill developed. He also said denim trends had moved on from pared-down simple designs to more experimental washes, colors like violet, red and brown and designs including a fine blue-and-white stripe.
Trends returned to more elaborate designs after several seasons of minimalist and technical textiles.
“There is a comeback of more researched, decorative fabrics,” said Guido Capelli, ceo of Gruppo Dondi. “They are still quite clean, but they are no longer flat. There’s a movement in the weaves.”
The mill blended fine cottons with supersoft wools and rustic alpaca fibers to get structural nuances.
“Designers are putting more architecture into their creations, so the fabrics have to have a certain weight and look,” added Capelli.
Gruppo Dondi also made investments in its internal structure this year by adding 100,000 square feet of space to its factory floor and new machinery.
“We have managed to maintain our market,” said Capelli.
Prato-based mill Lanificio Lamberto said U.S. clients expressed interest in its fancy fabrics for fall, such as boiled checked wools and padded jacquards. Raffaele Riella, manager of Lanificio Lamberto, said the mill had garnered more American contemporary brand clients in recent seasons that needed Italian fabrics for a point of difference in their collections.
“The challenge is to produce something that stands out,” Riella said. “For that reason, we’ve upped the quality a bit more, which has worked in our favor.”
Lanificio Fratelli Bacci will come to the fair with an opulent new fabric woven from rare red deer fleece. Cervelt is touted to be more luxurious and rare than cashmere. Its fiber boasts a 13-micron diameter and a price of 400 to 500 euros, or $570 to $713, a meter.
“It has an extraordinary hand,” said Filippo Bacci, ceo of Lanificio Fratelli Bacci.
Bacci said the mill previewed the fabric to top luxury fashion houses, including Hermès and Gucci.
“Cervelt is part of a quest for luxury to offer our customers something new and exclusive,” Bacci said. “That’s what we as an Italian mill can do.”
Other firms will offer luxury fabrics to women’s wear designers that were once limited to the men’s wear market.
Tessuti di Sondrio will show rich wools in checks and tweeds inspired by an 1800s men’s suiting fabric archive it recently purchased. Cotton shirting fabric producer Canclini’s new slippery, compact cottons with high thread counts are yarn-dyed in shades of amethyst and inky blue tones in tartan checks.
Meanwhile, demand for technical fabrics shows no signs of slowing. Mectex, a mill based in Como, produces enhanced performance fabrics for new swimsuit models LZR Racer by Speedo and Tracer by TYR, which were made famous by athletes who donned the designs during the Olympic Games in Beijing. The mill has worked overtime to meet escalating orders from sportswear companies and as a result, has boosted Mectex’s volume by 35 percent this year.
Simona Febbri, export area manager, noted that the firm has the long-term production rights to Speedo fabric.
Milano Unica’s biggest show, Moda In, will celebrate its 50th edition next week as well. Founded in 1983, Moda In’s list of exhibitors has swelled to 420 from the 104 that showed in the first edition.
To celebrate the milestone, the exhibition’s organizers will host a party at Shocking Club on Sept. 17.
Organizers have tweaked the fair’s layout to create a more concentrated women’s fabrics section. Textile producers for the women’s ready-to-wear market in Moda In will neighbor silk mills from Idea Como and fancy wool mills from Prato Expo.
“It’s a step toward strengthening the women’s fabric sector in Milano Unica, that’s more rational and user-friendly with lots more product and design,” said Alberto Jelmini, president of Moda In.
There'll be no rest for those headed to Europe for men's, as Paris just closed the gap with Milan. According to a provisional calendar released by the Chambre Syndicale, Paris Men's Week will now open a day earlier on January 16. See new highlights on the official lineup on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
BREAKING: Jonathan Saunders is leaving @DVF. The designer has resigned from his position as chief creative officer of Diane von Furstenberg, the company said in a statement on Friday. At the time of his hire, von Furstenberg said Saunders’ arrival symbolized and facilitated her stepping back from the day-to-day duties that occupy the work of a full-time creative director. The British designer joined DVF in May 2016 and was in charge of all product categories. #wwdnews
For @versace_official’s spring ad campaign, the brand emphasized the archival prints from the spring tribute collection dedicated to the late Gianni Versace. Closing out the show were five of Gianni’s favorite models: Cindy, Naomi, Carla, Helena, and Claudia. Bowing on December 18, the new campaign is yet another tribute to supermodel-dom as the images by Steven Meisel are fronted by @iamnaomicampbell, @cturlington, @gisele and more. #wwdfashion
Four-time Oscar-nominated actress Annette Bening has been waiting 20 years to play Gloria Graham in "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool," which will be released on December 29. The movie about Graham – a Hollywood star known for her controversial relationship with a younger Englishman named Peter Turner – is based off a memoir Turned wrote. "She felt vulnerable to him, because she loved him, she really did love him. And anyone that we really truly are in love with, we re vulnerable to in a very deep way," said Bening. Read our full interview with the modern icon of an actress on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @ninebagatelles; Styled by @cristinaehrlich)
The crisp white button down: a staple that can be dressed up or down and accessorized throughout the decades. Here, on a Art Basel-goer in 2017 on the left and on the iconic Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday” in 1953 on the right. #tbt #wwdfashion (📷: Andrew Morales)
Known for her work with @victoriassecret, 25-year-old model @georgiafowler is raising her profile in Hollywood. Fowler stars in @vincecamuto’s holiday campaign, which launched in partnership with “Pitch Perfect 3.” “Almost every shoot with Vince Camuto, I’ve had to face a fear…It was definitely a challenge. I’m so grateful for it, though. I’ve always wanted to be a pop star, so that was the perfect chance,” Fowler said. Head to WWD.com to read about Fowler’s experience modeling, including at the #VSFashionShow, and her relationship with Nick Jonas. #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
EXCLUSIVE: Huda Kattan just became the first beauty influencer to land a major beauty deal. Kattan's business, @hudabeauty, has received a minority investment from private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners. The brand, which industry sources say is on track to do $200 million in retail sales for 2017, will receive support on product, retail and geographic expansion through the deal. Get all the details on the deal and read @_a_collins' interview with Kattan on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdbeauty #wwdnews
Peruvian model @juanaburga_official – who is known for walking the runways of @rodarte, @viviennewestwood and @torybuch – is making the move to the big screen with drama “Los Últimos.” The film premiered in Argentina in November and arrives in the U.S. and Europe in 2018. On making the switch from modeling to acting, Burga told WWD: “It’s a completely different thing – a lot of people think it’s similar or try to connect things, especially like getting used to the camera or being looked at all the time or playing these different characrers, but film is a completely different story.” #wwdeye (📷: @jgreenery)
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)