NEW YORK — Milano Unica and the Council of Fashion Designers of America are partnering on a new initiative that has select designers working with Italian mills to create exclusive textiles for their collections.
Called The Fabric Program, the first products will be incorporated into the designers’ spring 2017 lines.
Steven Kolb, the CFDA’s chief executive officer, revealed the details of the program during a panel discussion on Italian fabrics at the Milano Unica trade show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center today.
He noted that young designers visit mills in Italy and develop their own fabrics and that this initiative will help them to gain first-hand experience working with leading Italian fabric houses while also raising their awareness of Made in Italy techniques and methods.
Women’s wear designer Ryan Roche and accessories designer Gigi Burris were the first to be selected for the program. A men’s wear designer will be revealed in the next few weeks.
“We are very proud of this partnership to support American designers,” said Ercole Botto Poala, president of Milano Unica.
Poala said the program would show the designers “the Italian way of craftsmanship.”
During the panel discussion, Italo Zucchelli, men’s creative director of Calvin Klein Collection, said that “fabrics are the soul of clothes.” Nearly 90 percent of the fabrics used in his line are from Italy, he said, and range in price from very expensive to moderate.
Designer Joseph Abboud said that his suit factory in New Bedford, Mass., has purchased over 5 million meters of Italian fabrics for suits, linings and shirts since its acquisition by Men’s Wearhouse Inc. in 2013, and the identification of Italian fabrics within the suits manufactured in that facility is “very prominent,” he said.
He said there is a “romance and mystery” to Italian mills that cannot be overlooked.
Josh Peskowitz, the former men’s fashion director of Bloomingdale’s and founder of Magasin, a men’s store opening soon in Los Angeles, said that the Made in Italy moniker “conveys quality” and can help explain why something costs as much as it does. He also said Italian fabrics have a certain “craftsmanship and innovation.”
But translating those attributes to consumers via social media is not easy, the panelists agreed.
Zucchelli said sites such as Instagram are “very immediate and visual,” but “quality [is something] you can only experience live.”
Katharine Zarrella, editor in chief of Fashion Unfiltered, said quality can be conveyed through imagery, and Peskowitz agreed, adding that it can be portrayed through the proper lighting and camera angles. But true understanding can only come through touch. “That’s the delight,” he said.