Byline: Lucie Muir

MILAN — Both slinky and heavily textured hands were among the big ideas at Moda In, as exhibitors displayed their fabrics for fall/winter 1998-99.
The lineup included silk and fine wool jerseys, for those seeking the slinky side of things, with stretch the hot choice for next season’s body-hugging skirts and dresses.
Those on the hunt for texture found a wide range of offerings, including moleskin, cotton flocking and wool flannels. Mills also made an impact with burn-out fabrics, plus velvets, dotted tulle and the use of Lurex yarns for new surface textures.
The three-day show ran through Oct. 1 at the new Portello addition to the Milan fairgrounds. There were 578 exhibitors, compared with 520 a year earlier, while attendance totaled 25,211, up from 24,900 last October, according to Sitex, the Italian silk association that organizes the show. Foreigners accounted for 7,400, up 10 percent from a year ago. U.S. visitors numbered 426.
Discussing the top trends, Mauro Clerici, owner of the Neru su Nero mill, said, “It’s the hand of the fabric that counts more then ever today.” His company presented burn-out wools with floral motifs for suits and wool backed with polyurethane for outerwear. The new collection focused on natural fabrics as opposed to its familiar technical nylon blends. The color wheel reflected a general trend from moss green and brown to plum, orange and red.
Business with the U.S. was a point of discussion at many exhibits, and Clerici noted his company, which began U.S. operations four years ago, was pressing ahead with a selective strategy based on acquiring no more than three new customers per season.
“Once we’ve got new customers we have to keep them informed on the latest trends with preview collections way ahead of schedule,” said Clerici.
The U.S. market was causing a few problems for the Crespi mill, according to Guiseppe Paglia, chief executive officer. “We have been juggling prices for a while,” he said, “but finding the right balance with our U.S. customers — who are still tempted by cheap fabrics produced in the Far East — isn’t easy.”
As one of Italy’s largest producers of linen, Crespi had no shortage of the fabric at its stand in anticipation of next summer in spicy shades of yellow and pink. For winter, though, Crespi unveiled a jersey jacquard with floral motifs and a range of colored moleskin.
“The trend is for moleskin and fabrics with a plush velvet hand,” said Paglia, who noted U.S. buyers are attracted to these particular ideas, which carry a competitive price tag.
Fabrics made to skim close to the body were hot at Tesj, which specializes in different weights of jersey.
“I don’t see the trend for stretch fabrics ever ending in women’s wear,” said Camillo Masiero, sales director for Tesj, pointing to the latest collection of silk stretch and viscose and nylon stretch devore for fluid shaped skirts and figure hugging dresses.
For U.S. buyers, Tesj was featuring a stretch viscose. In Masiero’s view, the American market is the most lucrative at the moment for Italian fabrics. Tesj’s plan is to keep expanding in the U.S. to reach sales of $2 million there by the year 2000.
At the lining specialist Brunello 2000, which produces a wide variety of silk and viscose fabrics for jacket linings and scarves and vests, the trends were for washable linings for sportswear as well as classic looks. The new collection included plain colors and small geometric prints on silk. Some silks were crinkled to give jackets a textured twist.
“The only real trend is the move towards sportive jackets, which allow for a wider choice of linings,” said Mario Contu, sales manager. “We have made existing colors slightly stronger to suit customers who are asking for more defined colors.”
At Teseo, the Como-based mill that specializes in women’s dress and shirting fabrics, flocked cotton was in evidence as an option to velvet, and silks were printed with funky clock and button motifs.

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