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Wool in the frame for Summer 2020 

Pitti Immagine Filati has become more important as a source of new ideas as the push towards responsibility, sustainability, originality and customisation of products has grown.  Janet Prescott reports.

Collections 2020 Spring/Summer favoured fibres and yarns which have a traceable pedigree, and ways in which the manufacture and subsequent disposal could be arranged. Companies are responding to current anxieties about waste plastics in the seas with the statement that ‘the impossibility of carrying on with current behaviour’ in purchasing and manufacturing.  There is acknowledgement that natural fibres, in particularly wool, are ideally placed to demonstrate sustainability from the beginning to the end of the life cycle.

The latest wool yarns, worsted and woollen, presented for summer were very soft, and airy, often extremely lightweight, so they remain fluffy and easy to wear for a warm season.  More than usual were all wool, some mixed with other naturals like linen. Technical features increase the potential for wool yarns for sportswear and active fashion in general; highlighting elasticity, absorbency, antibacterial and hypoallergenic features; luxury ultrafine wool with washable qualities like H2Dry Zegna Baruffa Merino; Biella Yarns anti-shrink wool yarns, Tollegno1900 with Wooltech. 

Developments with wool high-tech leisure and sports shoes are taking off, with many spinners working on techno yarns specifically for performance footwear with the comfort factor.

 Colours for the season ranged from pastels in pale colours, sky blue, and many neutrals ranging to dark, grey and black of a sterner, athletic look. Very bright lime green, orange or acid yellow and red popped up as accent tones.

 Points of interest included biodegradable yarns, water and waste reducing manufacture, material savings, new bespoke digital fabric sampling developed by Shima Seiki digital machinery as at Tollegno1900, initiatives becoming embedded throughout the industry.

Pitti Immagine Foundation staged a sparkling knitwear show by the international students and young professionals on the master’s CKD (Creative Knitwear Design), at Accademia Costume & Moda and Modateca Deanna I Rome. Design projects are carried out according to the demanding and stringent requirements of participating big-ticket brands, as well as designing personal projects. High profile companies included MaxMara, United Colors of Benetton and Napapijri, Dyloan studio, and a great number of yarn exhibitors.

The Woolmark Company teamed Zegna Baruffa Lane Borgosesia and the range of yarns represented by Sudwolle brands, with the trend-setting Napapijri, mindful of the right-on fashion company’s commitment to make impressive ‘functional and quality garments within its aim to respect the environment’, using advanced Merino yarns. They explored waste-reducing technology, using Stoll machinery to create a special take on casual wear, exploiting wool’s comfort and thermo-regulating features. The knitwear show was enthusiastically received, and garments were on show in the exhibition foyer. 

The ever-fascinating Pitti Filati Research area, Spazio Ricerca, curated by Angelo Figus and Nicola Miller, was this year supplemented with a parallel project to embellish and transform commercial knitwear, named Custom-ease, and also a display of techno fabrics. The summer Olympic Games in Japan 2020 will feature newly accepted Olympic sports including the internationally popular basketball. This inspiration gave rise to performance knits, where wool yarns featured well, presented in ingenious ways, showing bright flashes of sport colours like lime green or red, for chunky summer knits in colours put with more sombre, streetwear tones of grey black and neutral. Graphics on t-shirts, streetwear and urban skateboard and surfwear giving a real feeling of movement on next to skin athleisure.

Other important accent colours include gold, sand and everywhere shades of green - in both spirit and reality, from grass to lime.  

The message about natural fibres is strong and gaining ground. As consumers become savvier, and often angry, about waste and pollution, they are more demanding, and companies are reacting. Sustainability is beginning to be a reality.  From brief statements to well worked out statements of philosophy for manufacture and corporate responsibility, for instance, Going Green by Lanificio dell’Olivo also included statements on workers’ health and the environment.

Summer yarns trend include qualities like breathability, crepe handles, fine counts, light textures and transparency for a fancy, complex look and smooth techno looks.  Wool is very much in the frame with spinners offering varied and complex designs, classic and fancy, fitting all sorts of end uses as a summer, reactive fibre and yarn examples in imaginative and complex designs.

– Janet Prescott

Image credits: Andrea Menin, AKAstudio - collective, Janet Prescott

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