MILAN — After experiencing a rebound in sales last year, high-end yarn spinners expect to keep the momentum going with the launch of new luxury and performance yarns at next week’s Pitti Filati.
The yarns will be on display as part of the spring-summer 2008 collections at the trade show, which will be held at Florence’s Fortezza da Basso Jan. 31 to Feb. 2.
Many yarn executives exhibiting at the fair were pleased with their companies’ sales last year and acknowledged the industry on the whole is on an upswing. However, executives stressed that developing new products is crucial in order to further stimulate the market and keep buyers focused on quality and innovation.
Historic Scottish spinner Todd & Duncan hopes to get knitwear manufacturers buzzing over its new performance yarn, dubbed Todd & Duncan’s High Performance Yarn, that can be machine knitted up to 50 percent faster. A series of new steps Todd & Duncan developed in the spinning process gives the yarn its more efficient knitting capacity, which the 140-year-old company has applied to cashmere and lamb’s wool yarns.
“We’ve found the High Performance Yarn has advantages even on older machines,” said James McArdle, managing director of Todd & Duncan. “There’s no drop stitches and improved consistency in sizing. This new performance quality can be applied to any of our yarns. They will give our customers higher yield.”
Combined with an internal restructuring that took place last year, Todd & Duncan hopes the new performance yarns will put it on track for a profitable 2007.
Also coming to Pitti armed with a new performance yarn is Piacenza-based Emilcotoni. The cotton spinner has created Superwash Supima, an ultrafine U.S. cotton yarn that can be washed many times without losing its luster.
“It’s so fine and shiny it seems mercerized, but it’s not,” said Lorenzo Struzzi, president of Emilcotoni.
Confident Superwash Supima will sell, Struzzi has had the yarn dyed in a stock service of 55 spring colors. Emilcotoni’s collection also will feature a new featherweight cotton crepe jersey yarn spun with an extended process to get the yarn ultrafine. Struzzi said the company dreamed up the yarn as a response to the women’s ready-to-wear market embracing fluid, luxury-look jerseys.
“This yarn is so fine you feel it and you can’t be sure if it’s cotton, silk or viscose,” added Struzzi.
Also focusing on cotton-blend yarns for its new collection is Loro Festa. The Borgesesia-based spinner mixed cotton with silk and bamboo in fine gauges to produce a yarn that has a dry look, but a soft hand.
Vice president Giacomo Festa Bianchet said he also would show some new cashmere yarns blended with silk and linen in tone-on-tone mélanges. Festa Bianchet said the company had success last year with its Real Pima cotton stock service that it has operated in Hong Kong for two years. Loro Festa’s Italian-spun yarn is dyed with more than 100 colors in Taiwan and then stored in a warehouse in Hong Kong.
“It allows us delivery of two weeks, so the Japanese and American clients love that, and the yarn is also attracting some buyers from the local market who want better-quality Italian-spun cotton,” Festa Bianchet said.
Lineapiù also considers cotton, alongside wool and viscose, as a main player for spring 2008.
“Trends are a reworking of classic yarns in natural fibers,” said Lola Coppini, the firm’s vice president.
Cotton was mixed with linen to achieve a textured look, with viscose for shininess, and also comes in a 100 percent organic yarn. Viscose will be shown in a micro crepe yarn, in an opaque fluid yarn with stretch and a mirror-like, slippery yarn.
Shiny yarns are part of Cariaggi’s collection, as well. Specialists in cashmere, Cariaggi created Chintz, a yarn that’s a blend of cashmere silk and transparent Lurex.
“It’s a really elegant, glossy yarn and we’ve done it in pastel hues,” said creative director Cristina Cariaggi.
The spinner combined silk and Lurex to get metallic effects on the yarn. The collection also features a waterproof and oil-repellent cashmere yarn that Cariaggi created for sportier performance knits. Cariaggi said the company closed last year with a 30 percent sales increase, with revenues of 63 million euros, or $79.1 million at current exchange.
Raising the luxury quota for spring-summer 2008, Zegna Baruffa’s collection includes superfine wrinkled wools; dry, fine-gauge cottons, and combed cashmere. Also on display will be a glossy viscose twisted with superfine wool.
Following a change in ownership in July, under which Alfredo Botto Poala bought out cousins Massimiliano Zegna Baruffa and Mila Zegna Baruffa’s shares in the family-owned company, the spinner will refocus its collections toward a more high-end market. Company president and chief executive officer Botto Poala said he expected to launch a more comprehensive yarn collection in line with the new strategy for fall-winter 2008-2009.
“I was always part of Zegna Baruffa, so the management stays the same, as do the 900 staff[ers] who work for us,” said Botto Poala.
As part of the new strategy, the company closed a dyeing plant last year and recently opened another in Borgesesia fitted with technologically advanced machinery. The new dyeing plant is able to respond to customer demand faster and cater to clients who want to dye smaller quantities of yarn.
“Now we are taking steps to forge a new pathway in luxury yarns. We believe in Made in Italy yarns….It won’t be easy,” said Botto Poala.