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MILAN — Yarn makers at the recent Filo trade show turned to technology as a way to keep ahead, adding new high-tech fibers to their assortments and investing in speeding their manufacturing processes.

Natural, earthy tones like chocolate, sand and terra-cotta were dominant, but there were also bright bursts of violet, lilac and pink for the fall-winter 2006 season. Several firms pushed blends of natural fibers like wool and cotton, with synthetics such as nylon and metallic fibers. The focus was on innovation in dyeing or spinning techniques.

“There are some very interesting developments in terms of combining fibers and twisting them together,” said attendee Jim Conway, chairman of Ireland-based Emblem Weavers.

The show wrapped up its two-day run on April 1, attracting 1,802 visitors and 38 exhibitors.

Iafil, a Milan-based mill, showed a chunky cotton and alpaca yarn that was tinted on just the outer surface, creating a smoky, Nordic effect.

Zegna Baruffa’s seasonal offerings included wool bouclé in colors like chocolate brown and caramel as well as carded yarns for men’s wear looks.

“The buyer needs the creative versatility of a large color range,” said Luisella Ajmone Grosso, a Zegna Baruffa sales manager.

Botto Poala was pushing materials like wool, alpaca blends and cashmere in natural earthy tones such as beige and browns for classic men’s wear looks, but it’s also turning out fibers in brightly accented hues such as violet and turquoise.

Sales manager Stefano Botto Poala echoed a common refrain at the fair that yarn makers are striving to speed the spinning process to keep pace with fashion’s quickened rhythm.

“Orders are coming in later but clients want [the product] earlier. We are trying to structure ourselves better to respond,” he said, noting the company is tinkering with its stocking and dyeing methods and churning out smaller yarn quantities to better meet market demands.

Maclodio Filati was trying to woo customers with innovation, such as a blend of Lenpur — a fiber with a cellulosic base, similar to rayon — cashmere and elasticized polyester that absorbs humidity. The firm suggested that the yarn would work well for a bathrobe.

This story first appeared in the May 10, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“There’s been a resurgence in demand for materials that are a bit less basic,” said Andrea Ghio, a Maclodio sales representative. “Cashmere blended with cotton or viscose combined with Lenpur are kind of our specialty.”

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