Milano Unica 29

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Milano Unica 29 

As eco-sustainability takes centre stage at the renown Italian textiles show, economic trends diverge. Wool remains Italy’s most important textiles segment, but the mood is decidedly mixed

More than 600 exhibitor companies participated in Milano Unica 29, the Italian Textiles Trade Show held 9-11 July at Fieramilano Rho.

This edition of the internationally-renown fabrics fair presented the Autumn/Winter 2020-21 collections of textiles and accessories featuring the very best of high-end products for men, women and children.

Enthusiasm ran high among young designers over the sustainable textiles supplied by MU exhibitors for an increasingly eco-friendly fashion.

For the first time the show addressed the relationship between sustainability and style with its MU Sustainable Innovation Project, debunking the idea that sustainable apparel cannot also be beautiful and trendy.

“Respect for the environment begins with a mindful supply chain able to implement sustainable innovations in the context of the product and, increasingly, within the scope of process management up to considering reusing scraps to promote a circular economy that is far from the wastefulness and refuse that are harmful to the planet,”  said MU President Ercole Botto.

As part of MU’s sustainability vision, it has partnered with Sistema Moda Italia and the Italian National Chamber of Fashion to offer a prize at the annual Green Carpet Awards, taking place this year on 22 September at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan.

This prize will go to a young designer who demonstrates the ability to creatively interpret fashion in a more sustainable manner.

Economic trends however were mixed.

In an economic report released during the event, Confindustria Moda’s Research Center’s 2018 figures showed sales of Made-in-Italy textiles slightly outperformed expectations, with wool making up 42.7% of total sales.

Manufacturing data for 2019’s fist quarter showed a -3.5% downtrend, along with a similar performance for exports and imports.

Market segments, however were mixed:  exports to the US grew by 15.5%, and exports to China rose by 3.2% especially for wool products.

Exports of wool fabrics were down overall by 2.4%, but worsted wools were up 4.1% while combed wool fabrics were down -4.7%.

“The mood at Milano Unica was palpably mixed,” says IWTO’s Retail Forum Chair Peter Ackroyd. “Reports from some mid-market exhibitors suggest a greater decline in sales of worsted wool fabrics than previously predicted.” 

With Italian exports to Germany down to the tune of 18%, perhaps one needs look no further. This is Italy’s most important market along with China and Hong Kong.

“Middle to upper middle retail on the high street in the UK and in the city stores across Germany, Europe’s two major per capita consumers of wool apparel, are in a precarious state,” Ackroyd reports. “In years of plenty these retailers have made the fortunes of many in the wool textile manufacturing industry. But now, despite cutting edge technology and unimpeachable investment, one hears talk of drops in production going forward of upwards of 25%.”

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