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Fashion on the move - fabric and yarn trends from 2020 shows

Janet Prescott

Autumn 2020 flagged up the resilience of the European textiles industry despite the pandemic, as shows switched online.

4th November 2020

Janet Prescott
 |  Online

Knitwear, Knitted Outerwear

Autumn 2020 flagged up the resilience of the European textiles industry, as shows switched online despite the pandemic, which in the summer and autumn threatened trade both present and future.

International fashion trends for Autumn/Winter 2021/22 and Spring/Summer 2022 were harder to decipher in this COVID-restricted year. The situation led to concerted efforts to adopt developing technology at speed, so that digital markets could be established, and real business initiated. Various methods were devised by different organisations, Pitti Immagine, Milano Unica, Premiere Vision and Filo Milan. Some hybrid, some purely digital, staying live for months. 

The first major event decided to go online early in the summer.  Pitti Immagine made a comprehensive effort to recreate on screen in July the razzmatazz of Pitti Uomo - trendsetting designs, catwalk shows and eco consciousness; contact with designers Christopher Raeburn, Dolce & Gabanna and expert talks accessed through one sophisticated commerce platform, Pitti Connect, bringing together all three sectors Uomo, Bimbo and Filati.  

© Filo.

Premiere Vision Paris became a complete digital show and marketplace by September, quickly refocusing all to the internet after COVID restrictions echoing its own slogan, ‘Reset, Rebuild, Reimagine’ hosting an astonishing 1700 exhibitors with thousands of items.  PV made full use of its famous fashion expertise with visuals and expert discussions, together with the full commercial offer.

© Premiere Vision.

Milano Unica and Filo, September and October respectively, boldly staged full physical shows once restrictions permitted, MU enhanced by the digital marketplace e-MilanoUnica Connect. Highly visible trend information and physical displays at Filo were backed with strong Video input, and a satisfying attendance. All designed to moved trade forward despite the pandemic.

Feel The Yarn contest at Pitti Filati. Design/ Maddalena Gentile. © Pitti Immagine.

Eco themes

Eco-responsible manufacturing is strong, a positive optional choice, the usp of the European industry. It forms part of the communications of most brands. Evidence of continuing faith in its prime importance despite 2020 pandemic setbacks, includes statements from industry bodies and numerous online examples of sustainability initiatives from designers and producers in all sectors. The words luxury and sustainable move in tandem for 2021.

Soft touch    

Strong emphasis on softness and comfort was present especially in yarns, Both Pitti Filati and Filo spoke of thicker, substantial yarns with very little weight, looking rustic but feeling surprisingly soft.  Soft Merino, alpaca, cashmere often mixed with synthetics for decoration or extra strength, for knitting and weaving.

© Filo.

Deliberate imperfections

Inspired by the look of ‘peat bogs, marbling,  tearing, spilling’  and the disrupting of classic expected patterns, also described as Meticulously Damaged and Fanciful Corrosions; roughing-up of surfaces,  textures, menacing prints of diabolic tendrils and roots moving across fabric, Gothic fancy yarns and lace, fabrics decorated with yarn, metallics and passementerie. Embroidery and decoration is back, but lighter and more fanciful.


The importance of functionality and solidity can be found in robust indigo yarns, cotton, linen, hemp, wool, with recognizable visuals relating to workwear. Woven fabrics derived from utilitarian materialism used for revised working conditions.

Techno knits adopted for streetwear. Traditional weaves interpreted with disrupted geometrics, and dense, functional outerwear conceived with weave and knit side by side. Knitwear and woven fabrics are almost Interchangeable in colour and pattern, used to break up traditional designs like Prince of Wales or herringbones, changing their contours in the different media. Forward-looking Knitwear expressing new looks: puffed up knits as though filled with air, light yarns and weightless jumpers for Summer 2022.

Going forward, I think all shades of red from dark to light will be strong for both men’s and women’s. Black of course is going to make a huge comeback

At Pitti Uomo, laid-back pre-worn jumpers aimed for eccentric shapes, with stretched knits reassembled for jackets. Milled yarns and brushed fabrics knitted for heft and warmth, soft colours, like green and blue mohair and wool for coats.

Colours, shine and glitter

The New Black tipped by all the important trend maker goes from Pitti Immagine through Milano Unica to Premiere Vision for a ‘seamless fusion of style codes’ in archival silhouettes and new fabrics. 

© Milano Unica.

Yarns 2022 veered between natural shades of animal and plant fibres and an explosion of bright colour. texture and floral brightness, and PV’s chosen red as a star colour comes through strongly. Shine does not diminish; Filo saw blends like linen/viscose/polyester/ lamé. Darker green/grey, intersected with bright blue and accents dominate shade cards, meeting metallics and dark ecclesiastical looks at Pitti Filati’s Ray of Light.

More dramatic hues involve gradual brightening like brown into chestnut and ginger, for recoloured checked menswear. Undyed looks exploit natural fibres, but with glitter and synthetics too, breaking the rules and gradually turning up the heat.

Textile Consultant and international colour expert Beryl Gibson said: “Going forward, I think all shades of red from dark to light will be strong for both men’s and women’s. Black of course is going to make a huge comeback.“

Localisation and certification

The importance of identity ran through the shows. Identified materials and location provided prestige; British wool breeds, Shetland, Merino, Escorial, Peruvian alpaca, Lochcarron of Scotland at PV, Begg & Co at Pitti Uomo.

Radically honest is the leitmotiv of Zegna Baruffa’s FW 21/22 collection, loyal to the long-standing, authentic, transparent, and radically sustainable soul of the company. © Pitti Immagine.

Italian icons like Cariaggi cashmere, Zegna Baruffa Cashwool, Como silk. Fashion’s role in Italy provided momentum for shows to go on, supporting disparate Italian companies serving iconic brands, tailoring, edgy streetwear and Yarns for knitwear, weaving and industry.

Fashion segues into the next seasons

In part due to  the particular circumstances of the year, fashion is moving more gently through the seasons; ecological concerns of reducing waste and building on existing success rather than abruptly changing colours, fibres, fabrics and clothing has been helpful, pioneered by trend experts, and mentioned in all markets, as more in tune today’s sensibilities.

As 2020 has progressed change has happened. Manufacturers reported buyers were playing safe at first, tending to order repeats of previous purchases, buying from stock. The digital shows have revealed a wealth of design, artisanal craft, quality, innovation and new ways of commerce being developed. Movers in industry were desperate to keep momentum going during 2020. The huge effort to switch direction and harness new technology has undoubtedly helped in a difficult trading year, the experience making ready for further challenges.

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