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Wool Travels Well in Milano Unica, Fizzing with Colour 

Milano Unica in February neatly highlighted important trends which are taking wool into Spring/Summer 2020. Janet Prescott reports

Sustainability was to the fore at the 28th edition of Milano Unica, held February 5-7 at Fiera Milano Rho. Along with performance features which increase wool’s versatility, wool’s credentials on the sustainability front are well known and are forming a powerful tool for those companies which want to stress the traceability and ultimate disposal of garments. 

Sourcing also featured high on the agenda, tracing wool from particular farms in Australia, quoting good practice in countries such as New Zealand or Argentina for particular types of wool and methods of production. Made in Italy is wedded to sustainable ideas, it is a strong concept driving the Biella mills which are stepping up traceability and accountable practices throughout the supply chain.

Menswear Favours British Style

 British looks found favour in menswear. Abraham Moon’s head of design said that buyers are looking for ‘sustainable wool with a very British look’. Wool is being sought for summer fashion helped by the vogue for English worsted looks. Stephen Walters, the heritage English company renowned for jacquard silks showed new wool/silk double face constructions for menswear, playing with colour and patterns including florals, to great effect.  British designs like Glen checks and recoloured Prince of Wales were interpreted by several Italian mills and put together in their individual ways in fashionable browns and lightweights.

Trending: the Travel Suit

For wool perhaps the most significant development has been the advent into the main stream of The Travel Suit. The concept has been around for some time, but now it is one of the main features to boost wool prospects to come out of the Spring/ Summer fabric collections.

The big names like Ermenegildo Zegna, Dormeuil, Cerruti, Angelico all have their own version of high-tech suiting fabrics. Cerruti’s i- suit is ultra-suave and exploits natural elasticity and comfort performance, fashioned from all-wool fabrics, researched specifically for the purpose, including washability. Generally, travel suits have advantages which have been reconfigured to extend from sitting in aircraft to cycling to work in fast moving urban environments; advanced moisture management and natural elasticity for ease of movement, and remaining crease-free with many wool fabrics being fully washable, fit for contemporary life.

Jacket designs this summer are bigger, louder and more varied than for years, in ultrafine wool, and blends of slubby linen, disrupting tradition as a new generation considers how they can dress in different ways, having fewer taboos about mixing up clothing. Blends such as wool with 25 per cent mohair and experiments with textured yarns gave a new look at Botto Giuseppe with a wrinkled, tactile surface for jacketings. Growth in tailoring and Made to measure has also led to more womenswear being sourced from menswear mills, as women and men seek more individuality in their professional attire. Some Italian exhibitors showed outfits fully accessorised, tropical looks with red knitted shoes, like the ultra-cool look at Ermenegildo Zegna, with accents of red.

Vitale Barberis Canonico introduced a 21-micron wool collection saying it was going against the trend for superfine, with examples of the wool for visitors to touch ‘the thicker fuller, stretchy and edgy wool’ which they claimed would give garments increased performance and crease resistance.  Interesting concepts.

And: Colour

 Colour blazed throughout fabric collections, in the classic collections in Idea Biella, with blues, browns, and colourful version of classic checks and blazer stripes including red and white and bold colour.  Looking at the ranges of extremely bright colour and patterns - florals, stripes and checks - proposed for shirtings, it is going to be a bright summer next year.  Suitings ranged from a light warm brown, to a deep rich chestnut which has taken hold in addition to the ubiquitous blue, now   seen also in denim colours. Companies experimented widely with knit and weave techniques. Denim continues to spread its influence far and wide, both in delave looks and the washed-out ranges of the traditional jean’s palette, transferred to wool fabrics by new finishing and dyeing techniques.  

– Janet Prescott

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