Pitti Filati in Florence.

FLORENCE — A vibrant bustle animated the hallways of the Fortezza da Basso venue during the three-day trade show, which ended here on Jan. 25.

The 84th edition of the fair, which showcased yarn collections for the spring 2020 season, drew 4,300 buyers coming from 50 countries, registering a performance in sync with last year’s January edition. In particular, key markets for the trade show were the U.K., France, the U.S., Switzerland, Russia, Spain and Turkey while the number of Japanese and German buyers slightly decreased.

The 119 exhibitors — including 14 spinners coming from abroad — sought refuge in shimmering, bold-hued lightweight yarns to offset their concerns regarding the increasing price of raw materials, the unstable situation between the U.S. and China, export duties and post-Brexit effects.

“The concern is always there, it never leaves us,” said Cristiana Cariaggi, managing director of the Cagli, Italy-based Cariaggi company. “We coexist with it and, at this point, all those global dynamics that don’t depend on us, such as politics, are elements that accompany our daily life…but we need to continue to believe in what we do, to be proactive and to risk.”

The situation between the U.S. and China “might be one of the elements to keep an eye on, as well the Brexit, but who knows? We can’t worry about everything,” echoed Lanificio dell’Olivo’s general director Fabio Campana, while Lineapiù Italia’s president Alessandro Bastagli directed its concerns on other issues.

“I’m more worried about the price of raw materials and the reduction of consumptions. The U.S. and China will eventually sign an agreement because it’s not in their interests to pursue this dispute, but people are buying less. Customers don’t buy an item because they need it anymore but because it strikes a chord in them, so we need to ignite the desire in them by being proactive in order to incite consumption,” Bastagli said.

This season, digitalization informed the collections of many spinners, who showcased different takes on the theme.

A yarn presented during Pitti Filati.

A yarn presented during Pitti Filati.  Courtesy Photo

At Botto Giuseppe, the influence of the digital world permeated the color palette, as the yarn collection featured fresh, futuristic and almost plastic hues. Melange tones were also introduced for the first time in the company’s sustainable and cruelty-free Slowsilk line.

In addition, the spinner developed blends such as the Destiny yarn mixing cashmere, silk and linen and the Mango option made half with linen and half with silk, as well as expanding its signature Naturalis Fibra yarn collection. This is the emblem of Botto Giuseppe’s longtime commitment to sustainability as it is sourced from selected, sustainable farms in Asia and Australia and processed in the mills’ Tarcento, Italy, plant by using renewable energy only and certified dyes with little environmental impact.

“Fashion is one of the industries that produces the highest rate of pollution after electricity, heating, agriculture and transportation,” said Botto Giuseppe’s chief executive officer Silvio Botto Poala. “We need to take responsibility at every step of the chain [of our industry] and transform the system to include the principles of sustainable and ethical fashion.”

Tollegno 1900 promoted a similar eco-friendly approach taking the digital-theme literally and installing in its booth a high-tech workstation to show how the company’s new Virtual Yarn project operates.

The goal of the digital initiative is to step up the quality of service the mill offers to its clients by optimizing its operations and reducing its overall environmental impact.

Through technology made by Shima Seiki, Tollegno 1900’s clients are now able to create their fabrics digitally, before proceeding with the order. The digital service will enable a significant cost-cutting and reduction of waste and time, with sustainable consequences, as it won’t be necessary for the company to send yarns, color cards and cones to its clients to check if these elements meet their expectations. The breadth of different combinations — from yarn types and colors to the processing techniques — will also favor the customization of the creations, tailored to the needs of each client.

“This service is among our top projects: using this platform and the technology that defines it, we will also continue with the development of new yarns and the experimentation of new contexts for their use,” said Lincoln Germanetti, ceo of the Biella-based Tollegno Holding, comprising Tollegno 1900 SpA and Manifattura di Valduggia SpA.

Product-wise, great focus was put on the firm’s Harmony 4.0 wool yarn combining performance and functionality thanks to four innovative treatments, including the Compact process making it more resistant; the Eco Idro one making it waterproof and the High Twist treatment intensifying the wringing to prevent fibers from pilling.

Innovation abounded also at Lineapiù Italia’s stand, where yarns highlighting the relations between modernity and history were inspired by the company’s recently opened Sala dei Rari, or “Room of rarities” in English, an archive of more than 1,500 ancient laces, embroideries and textile samples spanning from the 16th century to the mid-1900’s.

Lineapiù Italia's Washi yarn.

Lineapiù Italia’s Washi yarn.  Courtesy Photo

In a nod to the Japanese millennial culture, the spinner introduced innovative blends of fibers and paper with tech treatments. Examples included Washi, a viscose combined with paper-cloth to offer a fine raffia with natural look and Rattan, a mix of paper and cotton featuring a slightly crisp hand imitating basket weaves.

Offering an opposite take, Lineapiù Italia also played with natural fibers with synthetic effects to deliver modern looks, developing cotton yarns with decorative splashed of fluorescent colors — in the case of the Fluo Papier yarn — or with gummy-touch treatments, as well as techno-natural yarns, including blends of linen and nylon or cotton and polyurethane.

A similar approach was taken by Lanificio dell’Olivo, which set one of the most impactful installations at the fair to welcome its clients. Five colorful structures made of different kite-shaped panels highlighted the five collections offered by the Italian mill, whose sales increased 15 percent to 20 million euros last year compared to 2017.

In addition to the signature Cotton 4 Seasons trans-seasonal line and the sustainable Green Way collection of recycled yarns and organic cottons, the installations spotlighted raw, metallic linen options and the Les Oxydes yarn collection treated with shimmering and satin effects. Inspired by digitalization, the fifth, Special Bright line offered lightweight yarns in shocking pink, Indian ink blue, deep purple, fuchsia and turquoise with iridescent and metallic feels.

Cariaggi took the shimmering theme one step further debuting the Magic and Euphoria combed yarns, embellished with micro sequins and blending silk with cashmere and Belize cotton, respectively. In addition, the Comet yarn mixing silk and polyester and the airy Sunrise blend of linen, silk, nylon and lamé were introduced in the collection.

The luminous offerings reflected the positive momentum the company is facing as it ended 2018 registering 101 million euros in sales, up 17 percent compared with the previous year. Cristiana Cariaggi said that enhancing the collections and speeding up the service to meet clients’ demands were key to this growth. In addition, the recovery of some markets contributed to the spinner’s performance, including France, China, Japan and the U.S., where Cariaggi sales increased 10 percent.