Janet Prescott reports from Pitti Immagine Filati 91 in Florence.
Knitting is a strong as ever and Pitti Filati is still the go-to European show for yarns aimed at the middle to high end fashion, majoring on ingenuity and the current emphasis on eco matters.
After the International setbacks of the pandemic, the issues of responsible production, circular systems or demonstrable disposable are now central as a focus. For this and also aesthetic reasons, natural fibres are still to the fore, but many more are now married up with synthetics and polyesters which have themselves been endowed with attributes for disposal, re-use or fitting into an avowed system of minimising environmental harm.
’The real revolution today is letting yourself being guided by sustainability’ according to Manifattura Sesia who have made intensive moves in this area. Animal welfare was addressed at a workshop initiated by Confindustria Toscana Nord inspired by areas of current interest, involving experts from the wool, alpaca, mohair and cashmere areas of production in terms of traceability, certification and animal welfare.
The images representing Pitti Filati this season were memorable, the scene for the green agenda. Also Stoll’s striking mask, illustrating new designs for flat knits and goods developed by Stoll and Km.ON innovation, which connects knitwear designs with 3d product development and production. Stoll has been part of the Karl Mayer Group since 2020.The emphasis is on shapes and grading digital stitch and yarns, and data export, to be used in any 3d software.
Shima Seiki based itself back in Fashion at Work, the well-known area for demonstrating creative samples, always drawing a crowd It aims to combine the artistic side of knitting with the latest developments and research in machinery and software, adapted for both knitwear and with increasing relevance for the apparel industry in general.
Shima Seiki’s newest development was yarnbank, a webservice for searching and viewing yarns internationally, with the further facility for downloading and creating virtual samples, speeding up and facilitating the demands of an ever-changing industry. Examples of the latest fashion developments were based round edgy textured menswear and sci-fi, important looks presaged in Pitti Uomo.
Colour, which had dominated Pitti Uomo the week before, was a major factor in Pitti Filati for the season 2023/24, with extra eco emphasis, bright with blues and greens and browns, the favoured eco-inspired tones. The research area, Spazio Ricerco, regarded as a must-visit by both buyers and designers, featured dramatic natural strips of green and yellow arranged like a feather boa, which set the scene enlivened by turquoise, lemon, blue, red balls of yarn.
Knits played about with fancy stitches, adornments or textured yarns, the prototype designs and stitches in the yarns of the exhibiting spinners. At Marchi & Fildi greens dominated their collection, reaching from saturated, musky greens to camouflage, from greens inspired by nature to muted greens used in aviation.
There were many more collections with recycled yarns among offers for the new season, recuperating high value yarns such as Merino, cashmere, mohair and precious materials. This seems to have enabled designs of more man -made yarns to mix with precious fibres, for various reasons; aesthetics, sparkling additions, texture or price.
There was also an obvious nostalgia for the cool, surprising and original 1960s evoked by the portraits of Twiggy, encased in knitted fabric the images made by artist Maurizio Vetrugno who featured iconic pop stars and models, including early Dadaists on show at the experimenters Pecci Filati.
Merino and linen had a large part to play in the collections, both being the epitome of most qualities looked for in terms of eco advantage, The Suedewolle group showed bright coloured Merino extra fine wool with 25% silk in double face designs and extra fine Merino 19.5 microns, with anti-shrinkage, at Biella Yarns.
Zegna Baruffa’s elegant mood boards caught the moment with new Merino designs and qualities. Running along with fine wools were collections including mohair, its quality of colour, shine and texture beating the drum for the optimistic new season. Likewise, Alpaca is slowly but surely moving up the chart of popularity with the public, for its texture, natural colours and ability to be blended with other natural fibres. Complexity and difference were achieved by various notable blends and colours. Brushed cotton and wool were high profile, seen at Olcese Ferrari.
Botto Giuseppe pioneers in establishing stringent eco standards for natural fibres, especially for wool products, showed several eye-catching designs with combed Merino moulines, plains and semi worsteds in cashmere and examples of its famous ecologically sound Slowool in superfine 130s Merino, mulesing free.
Filidea had 90% Organic Gots cotton and 10% cashmere in Cleopatra yarn, interpreted in fine grey knit cables more often associated with sweaters in thicker yarns. There is a lot of small-scale detail: narrower gauge patterns, fluffy, soft mohair in striking baby colours, as at Ilaria. Ingenious fancy yarns with several ingredients were shown at Lanificio del’ Olivo, such as Superfine Alpaca, RWS wool, recycled polyamide GRS, fully certified.
Pitti Filati had the city of Florence back in action, with receptions and Vintage Selection, well attended by buyers and designers for inspiration.
Knit Cub continued its deserved reputation for displaying the skill and craft of high-quality Italian and other producers, working closely with spinners. Ranging from light dresses, some over-printed with patterns on skirts, presented with sparkling thin stripes, to classics. Guernsey patterned jumpers in light colours with elbow length sleeves, in soft cotton yarn. Some were knitted on hand looms underlining the mood of craft and exclusivity, bright knitted jackets were interpreted in bright pinks, white and yellow and blue.
In the same way the new Feel the Yarn competition for elite students of knitwear selected internationally, and working with individual spinners in Italy, have reacted to the prevailing drivers. They named this year’s contest Feel the Green. Entries included textured figure-hugging sheath dresses with large decorative appliques, and a companion knitted dress with cutaway jacket on the hip, knitted with bark like textures, as if bringing the human into contact with elements of the forest. Winner Maria Nardi was supported by Monticolor.
Good reports came from Pitti Filati at the end having attracted 3,000 visitors,one exhibitor pronouncing it ‘not quite as good yet as pre-pandemic, but much better than expected’. Likewise, It was deemed ‘a success in clients, collections and energies’ by Lanificio del’Olivo which was celebrating 75 years.
A new light-hearted word ‘greenliness’ appeared for the first time, an unusual term with a certain ring about. It might catch the wind of the current move towards a general, but to the public a more understandable idea of the new ecological order.