PITTI FILATI’S THEMES: COTTON AND COLORS
Byline: Phyllis Macchioni
FLORENCE, Italy — Cotton was everywhere at last month’s staging of the Pitti Filati yarn fair. Both on its own, and mixed with linen, silk or rayon, the fiber was used to produce a variety of lightweight and versatile yarns.
In terms of color, exhibitors’ palettes ranged from pale pastels that emphasized the texture and structure of the yarn to more intense green, burgundy and gold. Black was also widely shown.
While the strong U.S. dollar has resulted in an increase in exports, most exhibitors interviewed said their traditional local markets have remained fairly stable, and there is some uncertainty as to whether or not emerging markets, like Russia and other Eastern European nations, will be strong enough to push the industry into a full-blown recovery.
The high price of raw materials and the slowing of the American economy are two major factors that continue to worry some Italian yarn producers.
Still, most exhibitors at the three-day event, which closed its run at the Fortezza da Basso in Florence on Jan. 27, hoped that their careful focus on color and fashion would carry them through.
At Loro Piana, manager of international sales Luciano Bandi said the company is taking more of a middle-of-the-road approach for the spring-summer 2002 season and staying away from high-fashion looks.
“We have chosen to use color to make a statement,” he said.
“It’s true that market indications are favorable and there is a recovery in progress, but it is still too early to know what is going to happen in 2001. The super dollar has not brought the great benefits everyone initially expected.”
Stefano Borsini, president of IGEA — who also serves as president of the Prato Yarn Promotion Consortium — agreed.
“There are three factors that have the potential to slow down the current recovery. First is the loss of momentum in the clothing sector,” he said. “Second is the weakness of the euro. And third is the uncertainty of the new American economy, which could impact consumerism and reverse the trend of importing yarn from Italy.”
Borsini said he fears a slowdown in the American economy will result in the cancellation of orders.
One producer who didn’t seem particularly concerned with the threat of a slowdown was Giacomo Festa Bianchet, president of Lora & Festa.
“The U.S. is our number one export market. We sell to all of the major design houses and, in order to keep that business, we constantly strive to improve our quality and service,” he said.
“Last year, we invested a lot of money in machinery, not to increase our production, but to increase quality.”
In addition to a very fine, super-soft cotton, Loro & Festa showed blends of viscose and linen and cashmere and silk for classic and sportswear applications, as well as innovative cotton-covered micro-sponge yarn that could be mixed with other weights and textures to create a multidimensional product.
Zegna Baruffa-Lane Borgosesia continues to hold its position as one of Italy’s top yarn producers.
Mila Zegna Baruffa, a principal in the company, said she felt it was still too early to tell what was going to happen in the market this year.
“Our sales continue to grow, because we produce high-quality yarn that potential competitors in emerging countries like Mexico, Turkey, China, India and Pakistan are not yet capable of producing,” she said. “In addition, Italian companies, ours included, invest a lot of money in research and development, which also helps to keep us on top of the market.”
Total buyer attendance at Pitti Filati came to 7,721, up 6.9 percent from last spring’s staging of the show.