AT IDEACOMO, PLUSH TIMES FOR VELVET

Byline: Lucie Muir

CERNOBBIO, Italy — Velvet continued to hold the spotlight at the recent edition of Ideacomo here.
While not the only star of the show, it was obvious that the Como region mills are looking to keep the plush trend thriving for another fall with new treatments and blends.
The mills added more viscose and Lycra spandex to the velvet mix and showed a variety of weights — both lighter and heavier than traditional velvet — for fall 1998. There were floral and geometric patterns created with overprinting and embroidery as well as assorted burnout effects.
Giorgetti, for example, topped its viscose velvets with tiny embroidered flowers which were then overprinted. Menta presented silk velvets that were hand-painted for sample lengths by head designer and company owner Giuseppe Menta. Buyers were told that similar effects could be industrially produced on clients’ orders.
Manuella Galli, an export manager at Menta, further noted, “Devore has been overdone, which is why we are focusing on velvets that look almost like jacquards.”
These were created by a complicated weaving process to highlight intricate surface textures. The company continued to push ahead into the designer scarf business with its selection of silk velvets, which could be cut to order.
At Clerici Tessuto, piece-dyed acrylic velvets were a bestseller.
“The trend for velvet is the biggest news for the Como mills in response to high-end designers who are only ordering fabrics with an extremely plush hand,” said Moritz Mantero, president of Ideacomo and chief executive officer of the Mantero fabric firm and its Cugnasca division.
Running for three days through Oct. 10, the show — the 46th twice-yearly edition of Ideacomo — also made news as the last major edition of the fair to be held here in the Villa Erba on the banks of Lake Como. As reported, starting in March Ideacomo will be staged in conjunction with the larger, more mainstream Moda In fabric fair in Milan’s Portello fairgrounds. The late edition of Ideacomo, held four weeks after the main run of European fairs for buyers to wrap up orders, however, will remain here.
Mantero summed up the response from exhibitors to the change in venue. “Nearly all involved are pleased with the outcome,” he said. “After all, it was due to pressure from them that we agreed to move to Milan.”
Mantero seemed positive about the future of the show, as this most recent edition closed on an upbeat note. “This edition in Como has been a great success in terms of top-notch fabrics,” said Mantero. “We hope that Moda In will be stimulated by this addition of quality.”
Many of the 41 mills showing here noted that orders on their fall ’98 collections were up from last year, with gains as high as 10 percent.
A spokeswoman for Cugnasca said, “We had good orders on our summer collections and even better results on our winter line after Premiere Vision in Paris.”
On a more negative note, some mill executives griped about fashion trends becoming more and more confused. According to Silvano Lolli, sales director at Clerici Tessuto, “Textile manufacturers are mystified by the women’s wear trends, which vary drastically, according to different designers.”
Galli at Menta said, “Designers are doing their own thing today, more so than in previous seasons. As textile producers, we have to be even more flexible and work closer with them in finding out what the customer really wants.”
In a similar vein, Gianluca Rosti, an export manager for Etro’s Far East operations, said, “Nowadays it’s those who have brilliant ideas that succeed. Seeing as we never know what the trends will be, we have to put out a good idea. The more complicated the fabric the more chance it has to sell.”
Thus, in addition to the emphasis on velvet, mills were displaying a variety of ideas with the hope that some of them will catch fire. There were, for example, more ideas in chenilles; viscose with Lurex, and wool blended with nylon.
At Etro, the lineup included printed wools, beaded fabrics with Lurex, and viscose blends with silk, wool or polyester. The color wheel went from mustard to plum, gold, silver and rust.
Aiming at the bridge market rather than the top-priced designer market it serves, Cugnasca unveiled a range of classic fabrics, including sheer viscose and acetate with beading, as well as muslins, georgettes and silks. Last season’s bestseller — chenille — was said to be still popular, as were wool and viscose blends in light shirtweights.
At Giorgetti, Rosella Giorgetti, one of four family members who are owners, said she saw a new demand for practical fabrics that can be easily washed and dried, and the mill featured a satin-like silk and viscose blend and a nylon burnout jersey. More luxurious ideas included chenille made from mohair, silk and viscose, silk tulle and silk velvet. Viscose and Lurex blends in shimmering shades of gold and dusty pink were unveiled for eveningwear.
With regard to the U.S. market, Rosti of Etro said, “Despite the highs and lows, this is certainly our most positive market.”
Detailing the lows, Rosti pointed to the fact that U.S. production times in bridge are always earlier compared to those in Europe. Price is also a key issue. “Even if a fabric is just 3 cents higher a meter, it can cause great problems,” Rosti said.
Etro, though, is in no rush to enter any new markets. “We want to push business in markets in which we are already well established, like the U.S,” Rosti said.
Clerici Tessuto’s Lolli said China was its most promising market: “We are looking to develop our potential in China, which in terms of the number of possible customers is extremely exciting for us.”

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