MILAN — Promoting innovation was top of the proactive agenda at the Filo yarn fair.
“Beyond knowing how to do something, it’s important to communicate it,” said Luciano Donatelli, president of Biella’s Industrial Union, on how to invigorate the beleaguered sector during the opening press conference of Filo, which ended here Oct. 14.
Donatelli stressed the importance of promoting yarn’s intrinsic qualities to the final consumer utilizing fresh communication strategies.
To this end is a collaboration between Biella’s The Art of Excellence foundation and Italy’s Coin department store chain in which 50 in-store corners throughout Italy will stock cashmere sweaters and scarves made in Biella, the northern Italian region of Piedmont renown for its historic textiles.
The Italian yarn industry is in need of an image overhaul. Sales fell 15.4 percent in 2009 to 46.32 million euros, or $65.09 million at average exchange, according to SMI-ATI, the Italian federation of fashion, clothing and textile industries. An uptick in business doesn’t appear likely as manufacturers at the fair emphasized rising raw material costs and a weak dollar as hindering attempts to push sales back on track.
Despite the gloom, attendance numbers at the exhibition’s 34th edition showcasing spring 2012 yarn collections remained flat at 2,500 compared with the March 2010 edition.
Botto Poala, now part of spinning mill Zegna Baruffa Lane Borgosesia, envisaged a contemporary final consumer to beef up sales. The Biellese company unveiled linen and silk blends dubbed Portofino, Florida and Mazatlan, appropriate for weaving into casual jackets and blazers, in sunny shades of lime, orange and citrus yellow.
“These fibers have been created specifically to attract a contemporary customer base,” said Nicoletta Meriglio, development manager. “Although spring isn’t traditionally our strongest season, we’re keen to promote the seasonless quality of our yarns.”
To this end, mohair yarns were blended with wool and silk to create denim effects and new silk wool blends in fine counts were dyed to achieve mélange finishes and targeted at an upscale final consumer.
A decisive approach to the market was played out at Biella-based spinners Marchi & Fildi. “We don’t want to overload clients with newness anymore, so there’s limited innovation on show here,” said Mariarosa Dissegna, sales manager for Marchi & Fildi.
Instead, the Biella spinner’s summer proposals focused on a bolstered stock service and cutting yarn ranges.
“We’ve had the courage to edit and decided to be less flexible on pricing,” Dissegna said. “We couldn’t continue to say yes because we were afraid of losing clients.”
Spinners were keen to point out that all this talk of innovation comes at a high financial cost shouldered by manufacturers.
“We spend a lot of money on development,” said Vincenzo Caneparo, chief executive officer of Biella-based Davifil, referring to a fiber being tested that purports to heat up the wearer when spun into fabric. “It’s difficult to keep investing in this type of research when the market is so slow.”
The 40-year-old Italian firm has participated in the fair since its first edition.
“The fair is important, but it’s never been promoted correctly,” said Caneparo, noting that quantities being ordered are so low they are problematic to produce.
On show for summer were linen, silk and bamboo yarns blended in new composition weights. The steep prices for wool and currency woes are inhibiting innovation, according to many exhibitors.
At Filatura Pettinata Luisa 1966 Srl, producers of worsted wool yarns blended with noble fibers, commercial director Flavio Rivetti said the company was attempting to offer new commercial propositions, but the fluctuating price of wool was making the process difficult.
“The strong demand for the product and tighter supply means a jump in wool prices and higher prices for producers,” said Rivetti.
Although not a key season for the company, it showcased wool yarns blended with silk and cotton that offer a soft handle when spun.
“We’re recovered a bit this year compared to 2009 and we’re satisfied by volumes, but prices are a problem,” said Stefano Botto Poala, commercial director for Cascami Seta, the silk company acquired in 2009 by fabric weavers Botto Giuseppe & Figli SpA. “Clients don’t want to pass on increased margins to the final consumer yet. The dollar is weak, but if we could get better prices for our yarns, we’d be in better shape.”
The silk division unveiled its new fibers including summer mohair — 80 percent mohair mixed with 20 percent silk — in muted colorways such as khaki and denim blue. A new fiber dubbed Cancun, 70 percent linen blended with 30 percent silk, is intended for jackets.
Ethnic-inspired yarns created from printed Shatung silk fibers were featured at Filati Buratti SpA. Nicolo Magliola, commercial director, said the company envisaged utilizing its stock service to a great extent for wary clients.
According to Maurizio Maffeo, ceo for Biella spinner Filatura Pollone, manufacturers’ extensive stock services mean predicting the season’s color trends is now a pointless exercise.
“Clients can order whatever colorways they want, so we no longer promote specific shades for each season,” he said.