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Wool Ticks the Boxes for Summer 2019

The change in fortune for summertime wool was on display at Milano Unica for SS 2019 February.  International woollen fabric producers have put serious effort into producing light and airy summer collections for summer, rather than relying on stock services and a few novelty items as there is real business to be done. Janet Prescott reports.

The focus decided on by MU this season was Sustainability with Techfashion, a script which could have been written for today’s wool developments. Ercole Botto Poala, President, MU, after a moving tribute to the late Silvio Albini, former President of MU, who put in train many of the improvements now being seen.  The fair is now digitally based, to transform its interface with customers. Ercole Botto Poala announced the two main themes of the session as Sustainability and Fashiontec, the message of the trend area being sustainability, with a special section of certificated eco fabrics under the tag line 'Save the planet'.

Wool has not only been accepted as a summer partner to silk and linen but is seen as a solo ingredient for light jacketing fabrics from active sportswear to urban cool. Mixed 50/50 with linen, cashmere, or with silk for a particular handle or weave interest, the same fabric was being sampled for both men’s and womenswear – a significant change. Blues, beiges, and browns with white and the featured MU trend colours of earth - browns, air- greys, fire- brick and reds and water – blues and greens.

The growth of wool use for 'real deal' active sports like competitive cycling, rugby and football, skiing and running has opened up a whole new area in the leisure market, so the standards and expectations for these high-octane activities are high.  Wool is seen as fulfilling the brief, because of its innate qualities, and enhanced advantages. This coming through as exhibitors singled out particular needs for the growing number of people who ride bikes into work; easy care non-crease and natural stretch.  

 At Idea Biella the big names like Loro Piana and Cerruti have already   identified the need to reinvent the suit for a new iconoclastic generation by presenting extra technical features, bonding membranes for foul weather, and with high performance synthetics like Coolmax.  At MU Sir Paul Smith spoke of the need to convince young men to wear suits by accessorising them in a different and innovative way. A new twist for the generation shows tennis tops, polo shirts or t-shirts worn with a classic suit jacket, as designers recast traditional suit looks. 

Botto Giuseppe’s Naturalis Fibra moves on smoothly with organic wool and cruelty free silk. Angelico harnesses the purity and softness of local water in its wool clothmaking, which is returned, cleaned, to the river, in a range named after it:  Gorgomoro. Vitale Barberis Canonico had a range of designs for Supersonic man, with strong technical features for different environments in high-twist yarns   and a new classic, 80wool/10/ mohair, and silk.

British menswear looks were strong. Dashing Tweeds exciting pure Merino suitings, sandy or bright blue with bold touches of colour decoration, never stinting on a strong sense of drama. Chic summer wools from John Foster and William Halstead, easy checks by Abraham Moon in wool/silk. Dormeuil has a new all wool version of Tonik, the iconic James Bond cloth of the 1960s. Fox Brothers with a new spring quality Fox Air and a crisp travel suiting. Taylor and Lodge presented several archive suitings in fine micron Merino blended with summer kid mohair.

– Janet Prescott

Images: The trend area's water theme: mixed fabrics including wool suitings; vintage looks for summer wool fabrics by Vitale Barberis Canonico; Malin wool suiting, Dashing Tweeds.

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