By  on February 24, 2009

FLORENCE — High-end yarn spinners exhibiting at Pitti Filati braced for an anticipated decline in order writing by playing it safe with trends.

A more refined market emerged from the fair, which ended a three-day run on Feb. 1 at the Fortezza da Basso here, as classic luxury yarns coupled with tentative buying strategies and an increased reliance on stock services set the mood for the season. Italian spinners cited the euro-dollar exchange rate rather than China’s competitiveness as the major hurdle.

According to information released by trade organization Sistema Moda Italia during the fair, the Italian yarn industry is likely to face continued pressures going forward. A drop in foreign sales that had been occurring prior to the global economic panic has accelerated. Sistema Moda Italia now anticipates foreign sales could decline by 18 percent annually.

The lack of foreign demand was evident at the fair, with many spinners citing poor international buyer attendance, particularly from the U.S. The show’s organizers said 3,900 buyers attended, compared with 4,700 last year. However, organizers said there was only a limited decrease in foreign turnout.

“The luxury niche we are in will be a little more protected, but will not be immune to the economy,” said Alfredo Botto Poala, president and chief executive officer of Zegna Baruffa Lane Borgosesia.

The company will be “concentrating on the fundamentals of our business, namely service, name, reputation,” in order to get through the difficulties of 2009.

Roman Germanetti, president of wool yarn supplier Filatura & Tessitura di Tollegno, said the exchange rate posed more of a problem than competition with Asian suppliers. Germanetti said a “return to classics” was apparent. His firm exhibited a collection of wool blends with natural elements such as cotton and silk.

“We’ve seen 25 percent less clients, but overall buyers have been more specific in their selection of samples,” said Jacopo Bruni, export director at Iafil.

The company showcased a collection of yarns in a subdued color palette that received a positive reaction. However, the company’s stock service of 70 colors was “more of an asset than anything else,” said Bruni.

At Cariaggi, board member Cristiana Cariaggi also saw the draw of stock programs.

“We benefit a lot from our established stock service. Customers are ordering tentatively by the kilo,” she said, adding buyers were focused on yarns that worked across seasons.

Cashmere yarns in lighter gauges were also sought after. Cariaggi exhibited its new Jaipur yarns, mixtures of cashmere and silk, and carded pure cashmere yarns in 90 colors.

At Scottish cashmere producers Todd & Duncan, managing director James McArdle also underlined the importance of being able to provide quick service.

“Customers are concerned about stock…buyers want the ability to top up,” said McArdle.

Todd & Duncan showed a vibrant, rich color card of reds and oranges. As one of the few spinners to benefit from the current exchange rate and the weakness of the pound, McArdle, said, “the market is taking a step back from synthetic-looking colors and is demanding a palette that is deeply reassuring in a positive sense.”

The spinner unveiled two new products — a cashmere silk called Lunar and a new cashmere-and-cotton blend called Cruise — alongside its established Eden collection, an organic cashmere from a sustainable and certified source with an enlarged color card of 95 shades.

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