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European mills are giving their heritage fabrics a fresh spin for fall 2012, playing with new finishes, blends and unexpected weights as consumers put a premium on innovation as well as tradition. Irregular surfaces and rugged textures, typically associated with vintage textiles, were the prominent trends weaving through Premiere Vision, the Paris fabric fair held in the fall. “We must remember these are modern times,” says Nino Cerruti, owner of Lanificio F.lli Cerruti, whose sporty Parcour collection updates vintage military garments and the wardrobe of Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. “Men are dressing for the intensity of an urban contemporary life, but with the chic refinement of the past.” Designer Raf Simons agrees that “strong and masculine” suiting fabrics are dominating fall collections. The focus, says textile designer Franco Fabrello of Marzotto SpA, is on fabrics with a more rugged appeal—dyed, overwashed, even made to resemble denim. “Men want durability, but not if it’s boring,” says Dior Homme’s Kris Van Assche. British mills, including Reid & Taylor and the Clissold Group, are also staying true to their roots while delivering new twists, such as playing with the scale of traditional herringbone and tweed motifs. Irregular finishes, puffy yarns and even classic jaspé with Lycra made the case that there’s beauty in imperfections.
This story first appeared in the January 17, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.