By  on July 13, 2010

FLORENCE — Despite a positive trend in the first three months of the year, most Italian yarn producers exhibiting at the Pitti Filati trade fair weren’t ready to predict a full-fledged recovery, because of lingering concerns about higher raw materials prices and economic uncertainty.

The yarn fair, which ended its three-day run at the Fortezza da Basso here on Thursday, showcased collections for fall2011 that focus on woolly looks and weightless volumes. For outdoor knitwear, the prevailing effect was a round look and a rough feel. For indoor, luxury yarns had velvety and silky looks and a gauze effect obtained from either ultrathin yarns or mixes of natural, animal and vegetable fibers. The color palette ranged from warm golds and woods to natural greens, reds and various shades of blue, while prints were opaque.

Attendance increased 4 percent to 5,100 compared with July 2009, with 10 percent more foreign buyers than the year before, reinforcing hopes of a resurgence of the Italian yarn industry. The sector registered an 8.6 percent increase in production in the first quarter compared with the year-earlier period, according to Italy’s textile and fashion federation.

“We haven’t got back to the levels seen in 2008, still it now looks like there’s a return to Italian yarn,” said Alfredo Botto Poala, president of Zegna Baruffa Lane Borgosesia.

Since 2001, the company has lost U.S. clients, particularly since 2008, partly because of increased competition from new markets, primarily China. The firm was upbeat on 2010, predicting a 10 percent increase compared with the year before and a return of its U.S. customers.

In addition to competition, rising costs of raw materials have crimped the growth of Italian producers.

“With an increase in the 30-to-40 percent range in the first half of this year, the price of raw materials is a handicap for us,” said Loro Piana yarn division director Luciano Bandi. “We have used less cashmere and more wool so as to offer products with more affordable prices.”

The brand showcased ultrathin wools with a cashmere look. Cashmere and wool prices have both spiked up, but wool is still less expensive.

Zegna Baruffa Lane Borgosesia chose to rethink its collections after the acquisitions of Filatura di Chiavazza and Botto Poala last year. It focused on mixed silk for Zegna; thick yarns like alpaca, merino and mohair, and ultrathin Cashwool for Baruffa. For Chiavazza, it increased the color selection of the brand’s cashmere products to 165 from about 90 colors available before the acquisition, including rock and water colors with a vintage effect. For Botto Poala, it highlighted a collection of ultrathin cashmere-and-silk and wool-and-silk blends.

Lineapiù was another firm hit by the price of raw materials. “The price of raw materials hasn’t settled yet,” said a company spokeswoman.

The group is to sell its three firms: Cotonificio Ferrarit to HSG, Lineapiu and Tatti to Finalba. Lineapiu showcased laminated furs like “Erba di Avatar,” a mix of rayon viscose, polyester and polyamide fibers with metallic reflections of blue and bronze.

Red made a comeback among the brand’s classic colors, while white and black substituted for winter gray.

Iafil, known for its extra-long staple cotton collections, introduced a complete range of winter yarns like ultrathin wools and alpacas in a move to increase its services and beat the crisis.

The company in the first half of 2010 posted a 20 percent increase in revenues compared with the year-earlier period.

“There is more trust on the Italian yarn market,” said Iafil president Stefano Salvaneschi, echoing the view of others. “Italy is resurging, thanks in part to a weak euro.”

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