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FLORENCE — European yarn producers are banking on brighter days ahead as they gear up for the Pitti Filati show that will be held here July 6 to 8 at the Fortezza da Basso.

This story first appeared in the June 29, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The fair will feature previews of the fall 2011-12 lines of some 100 firms, including 20 from abroad. For this edition of the biannual show, organizers have invited 30 U.S. buyers, representing some of the country’s top firms and fashion groups, with the goal of strengthening the event’s international character. Textile show Prima Moda Tessuto will run in conjunction with Pitti.

“In May, we registered an 8 percent increase in the value of orders [compared with the same month the year before], especially from the U.S. and France,” said Federico Gualtieri, president of Filpucci, a fancy yarn producer based in Prato, Italy. The firm expects to post a 20 percent order increase this year after a weak 2009.

Gualtieri, who said orders reflected a reinforced effort in research, echoed the view of many factory owners who have an upbeat but tempered outlook.

“We hope that 2010 will be a turning year after a disappointing 2009,” said Stefano Borsini, president of Italian knitting yarn consortium Igea, which gathers producers from Prato.

Borsini expected members to end 2010 with an average 5 percent sales increase over a year earlier.

Firms eyed Pitti for further direction.

“We’re braced for a good show amid positive signals, including orders for fall-winter 2010-2011 and performance at the latest [high-end men’s show] Pitti Immagine Uomo,” said Raffaello Napoleone, chief executive officer of Pitti Immagine.

Cariaggi, a fine-yarn producer from Marche, Italy, was cautious about the next season.

“In the last months, orders from the U.S., France and Japan increased, but difficulties,” such as the global economic downturn, rising prices of raw materials such a cotton and wool, and increased competition, namely from China, “have not been fully overcome,” said board member Cristiana Cariaggi. “So far, we are in line with our [60 million euro, $79.8 million] budget for 2010,” she said.

Cariaggi will showcase collections for fall 2011 that focus on color and rustic-chic fibers. In particular, the company features a cashmere-and-silk blend that adds brightness to natural tones like beige and white. It will also launch new colors for its Ander fiber, made of 70 percent baby camel hair and 30 percent silk.

Similar textures will be previewed at Filatura e Tessitura di Tollegno. The key trend will be ultrathin products, like the firm’s new viscose and wool yarn in a distinct color card that suggests vintage effects, and thicker products with special twists. Colors will include naturals, greens and browns.

“In the first half of this year, we got a 10 to 15 percent increase in orders [compared with the year-earlier period], especially from France, Germany and Japan,” said the company’s export area manager, Stefania Bernardi. “Between the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010, prices soared by 30 to 40 percent due to the rise of raw materials’ costs. We had made our price list before that surge, so it was a slump.”

A weak euro helped increase European producers’ margins against foreign currency and, in this way, partly offset the impact of soaring raw material prices.

Color newness was also stressed at Scotland’s Todd & Duncan. The firm’s collection includes its calling card, Calamous, a mix of cashmere and linen, that it will show in watercolors, and Ghost, an 85 percent cashmere and 15 percent water-soluble yarn used to get fine lightweight woolen spun cashmere with nine new colors. Those will range from winter grays and neutrals for the backbone of the palette to black and dark navy, which will be offset by pristine tinted winter whites and silver grays, and also new reds, yellows and greens.

“Last year was to forget,” said the company’s global commercial director Carla Bordini. “In the first half of this year, we noticed a discreet growth. We expect next season to be a season of transition.”

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