July 25, 2021

Looking for the Right Fibers

7 min read

The 33rd edition of Milano Unica, the international fabric fair held on July 6 and 7 as a physical event for the first time after the second lockdown, registered good attendance figures and a very optimistic mood overall.

The show, held in Milan, at Fieramilano Rho hosted 270 exhibitors, 224 Italian and 46 foreign ones, presenting their f/w 2022-23 collections of textiles and accessories and welcomed 3,100 companies (+29% more than the September 2020 edition). The presence of 570 foreign companies (+42% more than in September) was also especially encouraging. In particular, among foreigners it registered an increase of visitors from Belgium and Austria (+200%), Spain (+164%), Germany (+107%), the Netherlands (+90%) the US (+56%) and France (+53%).

Milano Unica: the return to physical events

Milano Unica: the return to physical events

“We have not yet returned to normality, but this is certainly an encouraging signal. The confidence shown by the exhibitors, despite the international climate of uncertainty, was rewarded by the buyers attending the show. I am positive that this outcome will help to re-create the conditions for a recovery that will also involve the upstream segment of the fashion production chain, which is still being hit hard, despite the downstream comeback,” said Alessandro Barberis Canonico, president, Milano Unica.

Alessandro Barberis Canonico, president, Milano Unica

Alessandro Barberis Canonico, president, Milano Unica

Various personalities participated in the inauguration ceremony. Among them there were Claudia D’Arpizio, partner at Bain & Company, who presented an extensive analysis of the fashion sector following the Covid-19 pandemic, Carlo Capasa, president of the National Chamber of Italian Fashion, Marino Vago, president of Sistema Moda Italia, Renzo Rosso, Confindustria delegate for Excellence, Beauty and Taste of Italian Brands, and the Hon. Giancarlo Giorgetti, the Italian Minister of Economic Development.

Introduced by the president of Milano Unica, a lively debate on the future of the textile segment and the fashion system started. All the speakers underscored the opportunities and criticalities determined by the post-pandemic scenario, which could result in a return to normality, but not to the way things were before. Among the discussion topics of the day were sustainability, digitalization and increased flexibility as the main challenges that need to be faced with greater collaboration and shared strategies in the value chain, while the speakers underlined the importance of redistributing costs more equably between the upstream and downstream segments.

A matter of colors
For f/w 2022-23 many companies focused on offering more sustainable fabrics. Many offered materials that, rather than using chemical or man-made dyeing substances, opt for using natural wool, already colored and available in many different shades of neutral and mélange hues. Among them there are Tessuti Marzotto offering a wide range of beiges and browns.

Undyed wool by Marzotto

Photo: Maria Cristina Pavarini

Undyed wool by Marzotto

Similarly Loden Steiner and Lanificio Moessmer developed a wide selection of fabrics. The former offered mostly mélange ones while the latter showed micro and macro check motifs.

Outfits made with wool fabrics by Lanificio Moessmer

Photo: Maria Cristina Pavarini

Outfits made with wool fabrics by Lanificio Moessmer

Specialized wool and precious yarn fabric manufacturer Vitale Barberis Canonico offers H.O.P.E., whose name stays for “How to Optimize People and the Environment.” This special collection uses materials made with carefully naturally colored fibers including “moretta” sheep wool, a sheep breed from Spain whose hair is naturally dark. It also used Red Eri silk, whose naturally orange fiber is sustainable and cruelty-free as it is collected only when a butterfly abandons its chrysalis. It also developed a special selection of fabrics dyed with natural origin pigments obtained from flowers, leaves and roots among other vegetal components.

Checked fabric made of undyed wool by Vitale Barberis Canonico

Photo: Maria Cristina Pavarini

Checked fabric made of undyed wool by Vitale Barberis Canonico

Piacenza 1733, a specialized cashmere fabric manufacturer, is launching a new line of fabrics dyed with eco-sustainable hues that use no heavy metals or other harmful substances, but the same dyeing substances used by the food industry.

Fabrics dyed with edible dyeing substances by Piacenza 1733

Photo: Maria Cristina Pavarini

Fabrics dyed with edible dyeing substances by Piacenza 1733

Looking for the right fibers
Great attention is given to fiber sourcing. Marzotto Group’s Lanerossi line offers fabrics made with GRS wool and more than 50% recycled polyester obtained from PET. Marzotto Fabrics and Marlane are part of the same company and also use a selection of organic wools. The company has recently signed an agreement in partnership with Schneiders, an organic wool producer that owns 17 different animal breeding farms worldwide including Patagonia.

Marzotto has also started offering a bistretch wool fabric that uses 100% biodegradable stretch fibers that guarantee 15-18% stretch properties.

Other manufacturers are offering organic materials. Among them is Albini that launched a line of denims made with organic cotton or recycled fibers for its Albiate 1930 line made with organic traceable GOTS certified cotton and dyed with leftovers from the food industry and other natural dyeing substances.

Shirts made of organic cotton by Albini

Photo: Maria Cristina Pavarini

Shirts made of organic cotton by Albini

Although it’s difficult to find organic cotton, Albini has signed a special agreement for its Biofusion project. Thanks to it, it can get a high quantity of US Supima organic traceable cotton–about 5,000 bales out the about 5,800 available yearly.

Canclini has developed a special yarn technique through which it can recycle linen production remains into new fibers to create heavy and winter hand linens fabrics called “Linone Brush.”
Tessitura Monti is committed to using always more organic cotton. For this reason, its Organic fabric selection is made with organic raw material ennobled by eco-friendly finishing products and accompanied by the GOTS certification for both its main fabric collection and its S.I.C.Tess luxury shirting line.

Organic cotton offer by Tessitura Monti

Photo: Maria Cristina Pavarini

Organic cotton offer by Tessitura Monti

The beauty of handmaking
Uneven aspects and craftsmanship can always surprise. Antica Valserchio, for instance, created a special selection of handwoven fabric panels added with natural materials such as raffia, dried fruit and flowers conveying unique visual and tactile effects. They were presented within the show’s trend area.

Manteco, a longtime expert in the production of fabrics with recycled fibers, has developed a new sustainable project. Going back in past cotton history, it discovered the Indian Charkha, one of the oldest known forms of spinning wheels used in ancient times for producing precious and elegantly uneven yarns. This tool is also a symbol as Mahatma Gandhi encouraged the Indians to spin their own cloth, thus making it a symbol of self-sufficiency and freedom. Inspired by this story, Manteco studied a special multicount cotton yarn with the same handspun effect and beauty, made with a blend of 70% GRS certified pre-consumer cotton and 30% of OCS certified organic cotton, giving life to a vast array of artisanal-looking, elegantly uneven and 100% responsible fabrics.

Manteco special multicount cotton yarn, inspired by the Indian Charkha, one of the oldest known forms of spinning wheels

Photo: Maria Cristina Pavarini

Manteco special multicount cotton yarn, inspired by the Indian Charkha, one of the oldest known forms of spinning wheels

Technology is the new must
Among the innovations seen during the show there were also highly technical innovations. Among them, for instance, Canclini has developed the Smart Business Shirt in collaboration with Comftech, a shirt made with organic cotton fibers or recycled cotton, completed by inner circuits at the wrists and around the chest, and completed with a small removable unit. The system can monitor vital parameters such as heartbeat and other health indicators that are transmitted via Wi-Fi to professional evaluations and eventual diagnosis.

Smart business shirt by Canclini

Photo: Maria Cristina Pavarini

Smart business shirt by Canclini

Sensitive Fabrics by Eurojersey has developed a series of highly functional multistrata materials that guarantee protection from external agents, but printed and with high-definition images and dyed with trendy hues.

Multistrata material by Sensitive Fabrics by Eurojersey

Photo: Maria Cristina Pavarini

Multistrata material by Sensitive Fabrics by Eurojersey

Reda has developed special wool fabrics that can be used for a 100% shirt and trouser that can be machine washed despite it is long-lasting highly breathable and odor-free characteristics. Also new is its Made In Nature capsule made with wool and eucalyptus fiber and a bi-stretch wool fabric including 100% degradable stretch fiber, V550 by Roica.

Details that make a difference
Also new are Iluna’s laces printed with a newly developed Global Recycle Standard (GRS)-certified sublimation printing and register printing carrying Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification. This last technique overlaps exactly on the design and color the details reaching areas where the dye cannot reach. It also started a collection dyed with natural dyes made with GOTS certified plant-based dyes.

Thermore has launched Ecodown Fibers Genius, a special free fiber padding solution that, thanks to an especially engineered structure of fibers, minimizes cold spots and clumping. It also lasts longer and becomes up to 10% warmer after washing.

Among label manufacturers Cadica developed as series of new accessories such as buttons made with maximum 30% biomass obtained from sugarcane. Other materials developed for buttons and accessories include biodegradable fibers such as wood and wheat and other mixes that include recycled cotton and paper mixed with hemp fibers.

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