MILAN — While many of its counterparts in the centuries-old Biella textile industry in northern Italy focus on wool, Lanerie Boggio Casero is looking to diversify its offering to include more cotton.

That’s a key component of the 30-year-old mill’s focus for spring-summer 2005.

“We have searched for different mixes in cotton, with silk, satin and viscose [rayon] that are twisted, more chic and more tailored,” said managing director Eugenio Boggio Casero, who 15 years ago took over the reins of the company founded by his father, Luigi.

“It’s not the type of cotton Americans usually think of,” asserted Boggio Casero. “We have played with the fibers to make them unique in texture and color.”

The company will be among a contingent of mills showing spring 2004-summer 2005 fabrics at the upcoming European Textile Preview in New York on Jan. 21–22.

Typically wool prices are much higher than those for cotton — and even with cotton’s sharp run-up over the past year, last month the price of wool still stood at $2.61 a pound, well above the 76 cents for cotton. But Boggio Casero said offering lower-priced products is not the reason the company is increasing its use of cotton.

Rather, he said it is something designers and consumers desire. Some textile industry traders say the demand for lighter fibers like cotton has also increased because the world’s climates are warming up.

While some other Italian textile companies have sought to weather the difficult textile market by boosting their market share in countries like Russia and China — which are both growing economies and home to significant apparel manufacturing trades for export — Lanerie Boggio Casero isn’t rushing into those territories.

The company has a small presence in China, but Russia is a different story.

“We don’t have experience in the Russian market, and for this reason I don’t know if my products will work for this market, as we haven’t looked that deeply into their needs,” he said. “Our priority now is to understand our customers better and not to spend time researching new markets.”

This story first appeared in the January 13, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The strategy Lanerie Boggio Casero is adopting for 2004 is to strengthen customer service and create products special enough to compete with China’s cheaper fabrics, Boggio Casero said.

“We are always looking for new ways to satisfy our clients with fastness and flexibility of our orders, and then of course the product, which is traditionally made, but with a new look that is the result of the mix of different yarns in different composition or different size. Fabric is not flat or clean but textured,” he said.

The company expects that its 50 machines will turn out around 1.4 million square yards of fabric in 2004, including light-as-cotton-candy wool, floaty chiffon and nubby bouclé.