Details at Pitti Filati.

FLORENCE — Forget dark and cold winters.

Shimmering, soft, voluminous yet lightweight textiles and a warm sense of coziness took center stage at the latest edition of Pitti Filati here.

A return to joy, color exploration and a mix of different cultures inspired the fall 2019 textile collections showcased at the Fortezza da Basso venue, reflecting the overall momentum yarn makers are experiencing and buyers’ openness at the three-day trade show.

After a cautious year for the Italian textile industry, with sales remaining flat at 2.8 billion euros in 2017 compared to the previous year and exports decreasing 0.4 percent to 824 million euros, this year started on a high note. In particular, in the first quarter exports climbed 5.5 percent to 225 million euros compared to the same period last year, according to figures released by Confindustria Moda.

The same recovery was experienced by textile producer Cariaggi, which last year totaled 88 million euros in sales, down 5.3 percent compared to 2016, but kicked off 2018 on the right foot. In the first quarter, the company’s sales grew 8.7 percent in Italy, while exports increased 4.3 percent. Top-performing markets for the mills included France, China, Japan, the U.K. and Germany, which grew 29 percent, 26 percent, 29 percent, 8.7 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

The positive trend and the firm’s 60th anniversary celebrations inspired Cariaggi’s shimmering textile collection for fall. Named “Joy,” the standout piece was a soft blend of 70 percent cashmere and 30 percent silk, embellished with subtle micro-sequins.

In addition, the yarn maker continued to invest in sustainability, releasing new textiles in pure cashmere dyed with natural colors extracted from plants. The company’s managing director, Cristiana Cariaggi, explained the developments started a decade ago, when sustainability wasn’t such a trending topic. “These projects required years to be consolidated… also because these colorations are not fixed with any chemical elements,” she noted.

“Traceability is among the assets of our yarns in general, but these projects are the peak of our research. We wanted to show that to be this sustainable requires time, but today’s market can’t wait three years for a yarn,” Cariaggi added, referencing especially the new, white and not dyed Organic Cashmere, made of fibers sourced from Inner Mongolian goats.

To further strengthen its research, Cariaggi will invest 2 million euros in innovation and to update its plant’s machinery in 2018.

Lineapiù Italia will also continue investing from 2.5 percent to 3 percent of its revenues in R&D activities every year. In 2017 the company’s sales grew 2 percent to 43 million euros from its yarn-making business only, with Europe, North America and the Far East as the best-performing markets.

“We’re glad about our performance in 2018 as our sales are aligned with the ones registered last year,” said Lineapiù Italia’s president, Alessandro Bastagli.

“We look to the evolving markets studying the final consumer and his shifting shopping habits… Today [costumers] buy according to how they feel and their emotions, not for necessity,” he added. To leverage the emotional sphere, the spinner included shimmering yarns in its seasonal offer, seen in the multichrome Lurex velvet “Sparkling” and the colorful Lurex-embellished chenille yarn “Lumière.”

Lineapiù Italia's booth at Pitti Filati.

Lineapiù Italia’s booth at Pitti Filati.  Courtesy Photo

“There’s more positivity and an increasing inclination towards [colorful patterns] compared to last year,” noted Lanificio dell’Olivo’s commercial director Fabio Campana.

Known for its creative, colorful yarns, the Tuscan company is experiencing a relaunch, after a majority stake was acquired by the Gradiente Sgr fund in 2015.

To present its first textile collection since the exit of sisters Ilaria and Chiara Taddeucci from their family business, Lanificio dell’Olivo staged an artistic installation outside its booth showcasing all the seasonal offerings as a “sign of more openness towards visitors compared to the past.”

Inside the stand, the meeting area was expanded and buzzed with international buyers, especially from Italy, France, Germany, the U.S. and the Far East. These represent the key markets for the company, where exports account for two-thirds of sales. In 2017, sales rose to 20 million euros, compared to 17 million euros registered the previous year.

Productwise, for the first time the spinner introduced yarns in cashmere, offered in bright and bold color tones. “We wanted to relaunch the strong identity of the company. In the last years, there was a great focus on our spring collections but we wanted to reaffirm that we also have a strong vocation for wool,” said Campana.

Lanificio dell’Olivo’s booth at Pitti Filati.

Lanificio dell’Olivo’s booth at Pitti Filati.  Courtesy Photo

Showcasing 129 firms, this season Pitti Filati attracted almost 5,500 visitors — up 2 percent compared to last year — 2,900 of whom were from outside Italy. In particular, those coming from Russia, China and South Korea increased 16 percent, 10 percent and 20 percent, respectively. Significant performances were also registered for those visiting from Eastern and Northern Europe, Turkey and Hong Kong, but the most encouraging figure was the 5 percent increase in Italian buyers, after a drop in attendance at the previous two editions.

“Our companies’ great work in research and their consistent investments in innovation [drew] important results also in this edition,” said Raffaello Napoleone, the chief executive officer of organizing body Pitti Immagine, who also praised the different initiatives implemented at the trade show.

Among these, Fondazione Pitti Immagine Discovery organized the ninth edition of the Feel The Yarn talent search, showcasing the creations that 26 students from 14 international fashion schools designed using yarns provided by Italian spinners.

Feel The Yarn - outfits created by designer Edenn Revivo.

Feel The Yarn – outfits created by designer Edenn Revivo. 

Tollegno 1900 took its commitment to support emerging talents one step further, as the Biella-based wool specialist also presented at its booth a three-item capsule collection that FIT graduate Darcey Lehman created with its Harmony and Wild yarns.

Productwise, the company elevated its signature Harmony yarn to Harmony 4.0, a 100 percent extra-fine merino wool offering that goes through four different treatments to enhance its performance and functionality.

In 2017, Tollegno Holding — comprising Tollegno 1900 SpA and Manifattura di Valduggia SpA — registered sales of 172 million euros, up 10 percent compared to the previous year. “We’re proud of such a result, as we reached sales that grew 45 percent over the period from 2013 to 2017,” said the group’s ceo, Lincoln Germanetti. “This year’s result is particularly positive if we consider the difficult moment due to the increasing cost of raw fibers,” he continued, adding that the key to such a success was “improving the production efficiency and investing in new technologies.” In particular, the company invested 7 percent of its sales in innovation and sustainability, which led to updating some machinery and experimenting with the use of wool in other product categories, such as home interior and footwear.

Sustainability remains at the core of Botto Giuseppe’s strategy, too. The company expanded its Naturalis Fibra collection produced in its Tarcento plant featuring solar panels and hydroelectric power by adding the Flair Cashmere offering to the Cradle to Cradle certified range of Slowool and Fairwool yarns.

In addition, the spinner’s collection included featherweight soft yarns such as Alba Soft and Big Soft, along with cashmere and the extra-fine wool options Sparkle and Frozen, respectively, that were embellished with micro-sequins and Lurex elements for added shimmer.

Botto Giuseppe’s ceo Silvio Botto Poala expects to close the year with an increase of 8 percent to 10 percent compared to 2017. The executive said international markets are driving growth, as export accounts for 65 percent of the company’s sales. Along with Italy and the U.S., the Far East is the best-performing market, with Japan, South Korea and China increasing their orders and “developing really quickly.”

While not exhibiting at Fortezza da Basso but in an art gallery in central Florence, Hong Kong-based UPW presented a wide lineup ranging from soft and airy textiles to chunkier and more textured ones, “influenced by raw nature, with our ‘Planet Earth’ color story mixing cooler icy colors inspired by polar landscapes with earthy tones of teal-blues and green,”  explained the company’s creative director, Stephen Trigg.

Another part of the collection combined rich and decorative colors as “we explore how cultures influence one another,” while, in general, Trigg noted that, unlike the past few seasons, which have been all about finer counts, “we are seeing an interest in more midgauge yarns. The newness in that segment is that they need to be light and comfortable to fit in with our lifestyles.”