By  on September 2, 2014

MILAN — Italian textile and accessories makers showing fall-winter 2015-16 collections at next week’s Milano Unica trade fair see signs of recovery in the sectors that could herald sales growth after two years of uncertain market conditions.

The show’s 19th edition runs Sept. 9 to 11 at Fieramilanocity here.

“As entrepreneurs, we are condemned to be optimistic and try to see the glass as half full,” said Silvio Albini, president of Milano Unica and owner of the Albini Group textile company. “With the next edition of Milano Unica, we would like to try to help fill the other half.”

Total Italian textile sales are forecast to grow 3.1 percent in 2014 after contracting 2.4 percent in 2013 to 7.8 billion euros, or $10.3 billion at current exchange rates, according to a June report by the Italian fashion and textile federation Sistema Moda Italia.

Conditions had improved somewhat last year, with the fashion and textile sector as a whole dipping just 0.7 percent in 2013 after a 3.2 percent downturn in 2012. Textiles made up 15.5 percent of 2013 textile-fashion supply-chain revenues.

Italian textile exports and imports in the first quarter of the year met optimistic expectations for 2014, rising 6 and 10 percent, respectively, according to Milano Unica. That growth was supported by an inversion of trends seen in recent years, with imports signaling a possible upswing in Italy’s previously languishing domestic demand, slumping Asian markets and recovery in Europe and the U.S.

First-quarter textile exports to Europe and the U.S. rose 10.4 and 16 percent, respectively. Exports to China dropped 5.5 percent and sank 11.1 percent to China compared with January to March of last year.

Within Europe, first-quarter exports mounted 15 to 25 percent to emerging-economy countries such as Portugal, Romania, Poland, Spain and Bulgaria, while traditional high-volume textile consumption markets Germany and France remained flat.

Mauro Bellini, commercial director for textiles at luxury Italian fashion house Ermenegildo Zegna Group, said he was “moderately satisfied” with his division’s sales so far this year.

“The spring 2015 collection is moving well,” said Bellini, but much of his outlook for the year will be determined at the Milano Unica trade fair.

“It will be very interesting to see what happens in 15 days,” Bellini said in an interview two weeks before the fair. “It is a very important moment of encounter.”

Milano Unica organizers have made an effort to strengthen their offering by collaborating forces with other Italian fashion fair groups. Milano Unica is working with Florence’s Pitti Immagine to showcase highlights of Italy’s premium denim production chain, with an exhibit called “Italian Denim Makers.”

For the first time in many years, Milano Unica is joining forces with international leather trade fair Lineapelle to overlap show dates, provide a single entry badge for both exhibitions and run a free shuttle between the two venues. Lineapelle runs Sept. 10 to 12 at Milan’s Rho-Pero fairgrounds.

After five years of scouting design talent for its On Stage runway show, fair organizers are instead putting on a retrospective exhibit about the 50 designers featured so far, with samples of their clothes and profiles of their career progress. The exhibit will be held in the gallery of the fashion store and restaurant complex 10 Corso Como.

There will also be 29 top-end Japanese textile makers exhibiting in the fair’s Japan Observatory.

Mauro Canclini, style director for the luxury cotton shirt fabric maker Canclini Tessile SpA, said his company will be presenting a balance of “extravagant chic” fabrics and best-selling staples to satisfy shirt operators’ needs for eye-catching window displays, but relatively conservative fabrics for products that sell best once customers are inside.

Canclini’s collection introduces jacquards that decompose and morph from one pattern to another halfway down the shirt, as well as prints that have a smooth, monochrome reverse side. Canclini will also show its signature top-selling fabric Skin, made of 100 percent ultrafine cotton featuring micro-patterns in checks or stripes.

Canclini’s luxury denims will run from classic indigo to fancy weaves, and include a capsule collection designed in Italy but made in Japan, with stripes and closed selvage.

Creative textile maker Bonotto SpA, specialized in vanguard prêt-à-porter, men’s sportswear and luxury artisanal fabrics, will be introducing 3-D, puffy, soft tricot in baby and Suri alpaca, and fluffy Mongolian “fur” made from mohair. Bonotto will also show fabrics combining cellophane with felt, leather with lamé, and primitive, worn-looking weaves made by hand on wooden Japanese Fifties looms in Berber wool, wild hare and Tibetan yak.

Jersey and wool mill Botto Giuseppe is focusing on rippled and 3-D stretch wool and wool-silk mixes, Saxon patterns, leathery distressed looks, opaque “Liquid Wool” finishes and a palette that ranges from deep and gritty to iridescent tones.

Upscale jersey specialist Mario Bellucci SpA said it will be presenting “hairy” jacquards, prints and laminated fabrics in its collection.

Zegna’s three textile lines — Zegna for men, Agnona for women and Tessitura di Novara for men’s silk — will be presenting precious fabrics in luxury fibers that “look heavy but have a very light feeling,” said Bellini.

Ultrafine wools have been selling best for spring, but Bellini expects carded silk and cashmere to be received best for fall and winter.

Luxury cotton maker Larusmiani, which reported 10 percent global sales growth this year compared with 2013, said it would push its new luxury denim, a cotton-cashmere mix called Sea Island, its body-warmth-regulating Litrax and new flourine-free water-repellent outerwear in “silk touch” microfiber.

Milano Unica’s own trend curators are forecasting daring material mixes, like Neoprene and lace, mohair and crystal, and melton and vinyl to be key for the season. The trade fair’s official trend areas will also show colors featuring thermochromic pigments that change color with temperature, and intarsia, as well as added density through felting, resins and bonded membranes. Plasticized, laminated and crystallized surfaces are also predicted to get attention, as well as dynamic effects from radial quilting, progressive crinkling and curved pleating.

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