Menswear and Womenswear Unite in Summer Fashion at Milano Unica

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Milano Unica was the logical follow on from the yarns seen only a fortnight before in Florence. There is a strong tie between many of the most upmarket exhibitors from Biella, the UK and Germany and the top of the range knitwear yarns seen there, in terms of quality, philosophy and attention to detail.

Colourful aspects and complex patterning gave the offer an edgy aspect for SS 2018 which suited both men and womenswear. The season is shaping up to be both highly designed and strong on technical developments, as well as claims of ecological responsibility. All of these aspects play well to the strengths of natural animal fibres, especially wool, which is rapidly becoming a leader in terms of exploiting its natural qualities of strength, insulation, climate control and ease of response to design developments.

Wool was partnered with many different upmarket fibres: linen for a novel handle, viscose, cotton, and frequently silk for the shine effects which are asked for in men’s and womenswear with blue being the most important on the table, in shades from dark navy, bright cobalt to sky blue.   Also key were classic grey and sand, a pale brick shade and light brown with a salt and pepper aspect, many of them enlivened with thin windowpane overchecks in a cheerful red, blue or lilac. 

The British look, inspired by English summer pursuits, if not the weather, was seen at its most authentic, yet with innovative colour choices and fancy fabrics, from top quality English mills as well as by the renowned Italian weavers like Cerruti, Zegna and Reda. Newer names, like Dashing Tweeds had intricate wool weaves, unusual colourings and genuine originality with mostly wool fabrics. Fox Brothers commissioned a cleverly executed series of drawings in dandy style sporting the kind of colourful light wool blazer stripes, sporting checks and plains which are in vogue, and which this season included wool and linen mixes.  Long established Biellese mills showed ingenious lightweight blends, twists, mixed fibres and finishes often with performance features and a variety of different finishes,  

High tech sits well with the traditional luxury wool trade. Loro Piana has specialised in ways of enhancing natural fabrics to produce weatherproof clothing.   This time Rain System was introduced, in which droplets just roll off the surface of the fabric and it can be applied any fabric.

Womenswear fabrics shown in the trend area linked colour and pattern to mythical stories and places of beauty in Italy. Shine and sparkle is holding its place in womenswear and there is a definite feeling for gold, which implies it is not going away soon. Merino twists with Lurex excelled in this look and silk yarns produced a luxury look on lightweight jackets.

Eco concerns are growing in the higher ends of the market, expressed in sourcing, manufacture or finishing. Many claims for ethical standards featured eco dyes, stretch effected by mechanical processes certification where possible.

The use of high twist for natural elasticity and a dryer, cooler finish sat well for summer. Seersucker wool constructions with madras colourings has been the subject of much development. It looked new for menswear and womenswear jacketings and was one of the reasons that important womenwear buyers were visiting menswear stands.

– Janet Prescott

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