ITALY’S INTIMATE STRENGTH

Byline: Phyllis Macchioni

BOLOGNA, Italy — There were several surprises in store for buyers and exhibitors at Italy’s semiannual Intimare lingerie and swimwear fair at the Bologna fairgrounds — all of them good.
For exhibitors at the three-day show, which closed Sept. 10, the good news was that the innerwear and swimwear sectors are healthy and growing. During 2000-2001, there was an increase of 1.1 percent in production value and a 23 percent gain in export sales of swimwear, resortwear and innerwear from Italy. The increase is primarily due to Italy’s trade with third-world countries, specifically Tunisia and Romania.
Stepped-up competition from German lingerie manufacturers has not had the impact on Italian exports that some industry watchers had feared. As the trend toward fashionable intimate apparel grows in popularity, Italian lingerie makers are hoping to capture an even greater share of European and American markets.
For buyers, the good news was the next edition of Intimare, scheduled for February 2002, will include a hosiery workshop, an international hosiery fair recently purchased by Intimare organizers, Bologna Fiere. Retailers will have an opportunity to see the latest legwear styles for fall-winter 2002-2003, in addition to the collections of intimates, swimwear and resortwear.
The Intimare Style Committee also has compiled a trend book for autumn-winter 2002-2003, which provided key details, directional styles, colors, accessories and finished product components.
There was even positive news for consumers. Italian innerwear manufacturers are jumping on the plus-size business for the first time, particularly larger-cup sizes in bras. The trend was most evident with Gruppo La Perla’s recent purchase of Regine, a northern Italian innerwear maker that produces bras in cup sizes ranging from B to F. Regine makes two labels: Farber and Armonia. The firm made its debut as a member of the La Perla family at this edition of Intimare. “Of the two lines, Farber is more conservative,” said Luca Dall’Aglio, chief executive officer of Regine. He said the two labels will be available in the U.S. next year.
Milan-based company Parah also has entered the plus-size market with its Euro Bra, designed to commemorate the introduction of the new European currency in January. The limited-edition bra is made of woven ribbons that duplicate the symbol of the euro, and like euro bank notes, contain strands of filigree that can be seen when held up to the light.
The luxurious fabrics and laces and in-your-face sexiness of last season continue to dominate the lingerie scene in Italy. Key examples include Margherita Mazzei’s lightweight sheer chain-mail halters, designed to be worn over transparent black tulle turtleneck tops, or silky, bared bronze skin, and vintage laces by Sophie Hallette. Triangle-shaped bras, Brazilian tango panties and fashion colors were everywhere.

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