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Wool in the Mix as Sustainability Gathers Pace

Janet Prescott reports from Filo in Milan

Filo Milan is the first important yarn date to take place in Europe for Spring/Summer 2021. A recent magazine article in Accademia del Lusso suggested that it signals trends up to two years before they come into play.  It attracts many designers getting the feel of the season, including couture fashion, those looking particularly for fancy yarns for weaving, and increasingly for knitting. 

Wool plays a necessary part for summer now, especially since the emphasis on sustainability is real and wool fulfils many of the criteria now being established to earn that label.  Namely it is traceable, natural, recyclable, and it can be tracked throughout its life as a garment, reused many times, recycled, re-spun and ultimately composted. 

Colour Comeback

A feeling for unusual colour juxtapositions prevailed,  no longer monochrome or uni-colours of past seasons,  putting many different shades together in tandem or serially; blue and grey, pink and green, pale lemon and peach, greys and mineral lights and marbling,  sparkle ranging from full scale silver and gold glitter to small points of light; dark blue, rock grey, sandstone.

Texture and opulence looked unusual for the warmer seasons,  delighting  in particular shine and texture particularly prevalent in the choice of  animal hair, feathery looks with naps and twists, all of which contributed to  giving a 3-D look to the yarns when knitted or woven in small samples.

Filo Flow

The edition was heavily steeped in the language and acronyms for certification which comes with a strong commitment to sustainability.  Well known and newer; Oeko-Tex, GRS (global recycled standard), Fair Trade, Better Cotton Initiative and many more, principles for something unusual and preferably natural, traceable and ultimately compostable, standards for which wool was by far the most comprehensive.

Filo as an organisation, originating in Biella, Italy’s historical textile capital, is proactive.  It underlines the importance of the textile chain, with the identification of Filo Flow to establish the roles of yarn and fibre as the most important first stage at the very beginning of the process if it is to function. The exhibition reflected growing concern from large chains and design brands about social conditions, social welfare and a living wage as well not just a fringe concern but pushed by social media and proselytizing films a holistic approach, chiming particularly with the young.

Trends in Wool

Wool was included in summer yarn collections from Turkish mills, to Chinese and Italian spinners. It was blended with viscose or cotton, also blended with linen with a slubby look, and aided by trends for soft yarns which continue, including soft bamboo or the rather trendy hemp option, many with wool. Some yarns were   twisted, or brushed   Ribbon yarns gave a rich look, further enhanced by the sheen of metallo-plastics, contrasting coloured textures and knots.

 Precious fibres, natural animal hairs and high-end plant derived yarn dominated. Luisa 1966 had an attractive selection of undyed wool, knitted into marl looks with a wide and fascinating range of colours from different fleeces, which caused much interest.

Zegna Baruffa ‘s luxury Merino yarns included a group of classic sophisticated worsted weaving yarns in pure wool aptly named Naples, Sorrento, Super Florence, Venice, Siena, and Super Amalfi in fine counts.

Reduce and recycling with blends

More recycled wools were on offer, for example at Italfil’s Green Line where wool is blended with recycled and compostable fibres, Chinese exhibitors also blended and twisted wool with many other fibres.

A percentage of recycled yarn can be seen as a useful way of underlining a commitment to traceability and also involves virgin yarns as concomitants.

Reduced environmental impact and a verifiable supply yarn were an important area this edition with wool and traditional natural yarns standing at the very hub.  Many more brands are tackling the growing problem of disposal. including mixes and blends; Orica by Asahi Kasei with end of life certification; Cradle to Cradle Gold Level for breaking down without releasing harmful materials. Shaoxing, China, also showed biodegradable synthetic yarn. Developments that have the potential to see more stretch fabric including wool, itself essentially biodegradable. It is likely to be selected in many more eco-conscious contexts.

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