Byline: Jennifer Melocco

MILAN — Fresh looks in high tech and activewear-inspired ideas sparked the latest edition of the Moda In fabric fair here.
A not-so-bright note, though, was the diminished turnout of U.S. and Asian buyers, which exhibitors blamed on the show’s earlier timing.
The three-day fair, showing fabrics for fall-winter 2000-2001, ran through Sept. 6, three weeks earlier than it had been in years past. U.S. attendance was off 64 percent and there was an 82 percent drop in Asian buyers, compared with the October 1998 staging of the event.
Overall attendance figures were more stable, with total buyer turnout reported at 23,305, off 8 percent from last year’s 25,318 visitors, with European attendance holding level.
U.S. attendees numbered 177, compared with 497, while attendance of buyers from Japan, Korea and Taiwan was 257, down from 1,398.
“There were no Americans and no Asians, only Europeans,” Giovanni Proserpio, director of sales and exports at Limonta, one of 517 exhibitors at the show, said on the last day of the event. “It should be an international fair, but for the last two seasons it’s only been for Europeans. Moda In is missing many manufacturers and there were exhibitors who weren’t ready with their collections. It’s very early and an isolated fair.”
Daniela Righi, U.S. sales manager for Gruppo Dondi, said her company had not expected to see many U.S. clients or Asian clients: “We have not seen too many U.S. buyers because it’s Labor Day and the Asian market is waiting for Premiere Vision in Paris.”
The European fabric season was reshuffled this year, with Moda In now followed by Prato Expo, Premiere Vision, Ideabiella and, finally, Ideacomo. The new, earlier dates are the result of a joint effort by French and Italian show organizers to create a more cohesive fair schedule and to accommodate fashion designers — especially the Americans whose runway shows have been pushed forward nearly two months.
The organizing body of Moda In, S.I. Tex, promoted the fabric fair as “the right fair at the right time.”
But some visitors said the earlier date meant that many exhibitors were unprepared, and that there were fewer new-and-interesting products on offer. Donna Karan was one of the major U.S. companies that did visit Moda In, mostly for its DKNY line.
A member of the DKNY design team who requested anonymity said the team was looking for new directions from the fair, but felt that the earlier date had left some exhibitors with little time to develop their ideas and research. “We were looking for new directions and we didn’t see them here,” she said. “We usually get a much better picture.”
Still, exhibitors did have new ideas to present, particularly those reflecting high tech and active trends. Two companies that presented active lines for the first time were Gruppo Dondi, with its Tecno and Logico line, and Mario Boselli Jersey, with its Active line. Both companies said they mixed the top-line fibers they use in their high-end lines with less traditional ones — like aluminum.
In addition to the use of aluminum, Gruppo Dondi’s Righi said that the Tecno and Logico line was a mix of man-made fibers such as polypropylene and polyester with natural fibers, including cotton and wool.
“You’ll often see double — and sometimes triple — fabrics, where the natural fibers are backed up by the technological ones to create a hollow thin padding,” Righi said. Finishes ranged from rubber-coated membranes to delicate wrinkles or parchment; colors were neutral and natural.
Marioboselli Jersey also showed its high tech Active line for the first time at Moda In. Federico Boselli, one of the company’s owners, said the fabric range was created to capture the growing sportswear market in the U.S. and elsewhere. “These materials can be used for activewear and also for everyday wear,” Boselli said.
The company showed a variety of bonded aluminum fabrics, which Boselli said could be used for exteriors or linings. “The silver coating reflects the heat and can be used to heat the inside, or reflect outside heat away from the body,” Boselli said. Rubber was also presented as part of the Active line in khaki, gray and earth tones.
For designer collections, Gruppo Dondi featured cashmere and alpaca in its premier Punto Tessile line. Some knits were spread like spider webs over a layer of nylon giving an elasticized effect. Marioboselli Jersey used plenty of wool, cashmere and new mixes of angora, cashmere and cotton.
Gianni Zanchetin, Miroglio’s product manager, said printed knits were still a big seller. “We’ve seen a lot more color and print on the runways lately, and we expect it to get even better this season,” Zanchetin said. He said there was a strong interest in printed acrylic and wool blend knits and sweatshirts.
Guido Borromeo D’Adda, owner of Manolo Borromeo, said his firm was following the trend of a natural look in its collection. “We have one fabric which is a silk and viscose mix with a feather effect,” Borromeo D’Adda said. “Fabrics made from mohair, wool and wool-cotton mixes in jacquard are also selling well.”