By  on January 25, 2005

MILAN — Italian yarn producers are focused on developing high-quality yarns with distinctive characteristics to drive their business at next week’s edition of Pitti Filati, as they face economic challenges ranging from a weak dollar to the recent end of the global quota system.

Many of the Italian firms that plan to exhibit at the show — set to run Feb. 2-4 at the Fortezza da Basso in Florence — said they would remain focused on luxurious fibers, such as cashmere, silk, linen and high-quality cottons. They hope this will keep them out of head-to-head price competition with developing nations whose exports are now unrestrained.

Exhibitors also said they would be raising prices, a step described as necessary because of the decline of the dollar against the euro. On Monday, the dollar was worth 77 euro cents, compared with 78 euro cents a year ago, and well off the 94 euro cents rate of the same day in 2003.

“We will have to increase our prices by 8 to 10 percent and we hope the market is going to accept that,” said Giacomo Festa Bianchet, president of Loro Festa.

Igea also is raising its prices, a step the company said was necessary but feared might crimp sales.

“It’s still early and it could be bad,” said president Stefano Borsini. “I mean we have the dollar weaker than ever, 10 percent less value than this time last year, so the American market has really reduced for us. Prices have risen so that something that cost 20 euros a kilo costs $26, when last year it only cost $22 to $24. This year could be really difficult. I hope that I’m wrong.”  

In terms of merchandise, the show focuses on yarns destined for the spring-summer 2006 season.

Luciano Bandi, yarn division director of Loro Piana, said ultrafine yarns would be a key trend for summer 2006. His firm plans to show a fine-count, shiny linen and cashmere yarn at the show.

He said demand has waned for the nontraditional fibers some firms had turned to in recent seasons.

“We don’t trust in bamboo, hemp, yarns made of strange raw materials like soy and milk, that is more of a marketing thing in my point of view,” Bandi said. “How many meters of hemp can you sell? Everybody is saying there is no creativity and I totally agree. But nobody wants creativity. There is just a big desire for simple, quality yarns.”

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