In the wake of a deteriorating economy and the number of uncertainties cast by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pitti Filati digital showcase hosted on the Pitti Connect platform was a needed alternative for yarn makers to stay connected to their clients and potentially forge ahead with business partnerships, old and new, all while leveraging the caliber of the Pitti Immagine-backed fair.
That was the general consensus among the 37 exhibitors joining the platform to unveil their fall 2021 yarn collections, a number significantly lower compared to past IRL editions. Last June, the fair’s organizer eventually called off the 87th edition of the physical show and debuted the high-tech web site to host all its 2020 showcases virtually.
“I believe that buyers and fashion players will quickly become accustomed to attend virtual events, too,” said Fabio Campana, chief executive officer of Lanificio dell’Olivo. “Considering the traffic generated on the platform and the ability to do business, we’re satisfied, although there’s always room for improvements,” he noted.
Although many Italian spinners agreed that the touch and feel quality of their highly sustainable and innovative yarns got lost in the transition from physical to digital, the fair — which debuted in July and runs through Oct. 30 — seemed to maintain its attractiveness.
Cristiana Cariaggi, managing director of Cagli, Italy-based Cariaggi shared the sentiment of many, contending that “the digital platform can represent an additional tool to leverage rather than a substitute for in-person gatherings.”
Here, WWD catches up virtually with exhibitors to discuss business challenges and assess the digital format.
Silvio Botto Poala, ceo of Botto Giuseppe
Thoughts on Pitti Connect: Enjoying a textile collection digitally can support our clients to make a preliminary choice, however it’s still fundamental to be able to touch and feel the yarns physically, which requires us to send samples or to schedule in-person appointments, when it’s safe to do so. We tried to overcome the difficulties, especially with our extra-EU clients through a number of digital platforms.
Most innovative fall 2021 yarn: A cashmere double, suitable for overcoats and crafted from GRS-certified, sustainable recycled fibers.
Business challenges and opportunities: Every region and market has been hit hard by the pandemic: some were affected harder such as the U.S. and Europe, while others showed more resilience like China, Japan and South Korea. Without any doubt, this crisis has walloped consumers’ confidence in making purchases and so the fashion and textile sectors might be the ones needing more time to recover. However, I do believe that luxury will bounce back quicker than the contemporary and mass-market segments. That’s why I see Italy and France as the most resilient markets. I expect each and every company to face at least two tumbling years before getting back to pre-COVID-19 levels.
Sales forecasts for 2020: The 2020 fiscal year might close down 25 to 30 percent compared to 2019, with both the textile and knitwear divisions affected by similar losses.
Fabio Campana, chief executive officer of Lanificio dell’Olivo
Thoughts on Pitti Connect: The platform is an effective tool to cope with the strong restrictions we’re facing, but it cannot replace the physical meetings with our clients. In the future, the platform, developed in the wake of the pandemic, will flank the [physical] trade show with increased efficacy. We’re also enjoying the visit of many interesting companies that would have not stopped by our physical booth.
Most innovative fall 2021 yarn: A sustainable yarn, RWS-certified, which blends responsibly sourced wool, superfine alpaca and recycled nylon called “Bianca.” It boasts a titration of 10,000 for a precious, soft, lightweight and versatile effect.
Business challenges and opportunities: The current climate is still uncertain, although in early summer, in June and July, we saw positive signs [of recovery]. We expect the Far East to bounce back earlier, while in Europe the most prominent and dynamic companies are still pressing ahead. In the U.S. the most equipped businesses are also reacting better than weaker ones. After a “lost” spring season characterized by a contraction in sales of knitwear, demand will decrease. I believe that in the current context it’s more important than ever to be close to our clients and find with them the best solutions supported by a great customer service.
Sales forecasts for 2020: The pandemic has walloped our companies in the most crucial moment of the year when it comes to financial results, so we expect a significant contraction in sales. We should close 2020 down 20 percent compared to the previous year. We’re not satisfied with this figure, but the healthy financial assets we can count on will help us look with confidence toward the future recovery.
Cristiana Cariaggi, managing director of Cariaggi
Thoughts on Pitti Connect: We decided to take part in Pitti Connect because we believe it’s an important international showcase, although it’s always difficult to convey the emotions linked to our yarns though a web platform.
Most innovative fall 2021 yarn: Precious yarns with comfort and sustainable qualities mark the new Bliss collection. This season we introduced the new Campeggio color, which draws its name from the evergreen plant, whose wood provides a dyeing compound resulting in three different gray nuances. It is part of the Systema Naturae collection comprised of natural, bio-based dyed yarns.
Sales forecasts for 2020: We expect a sales contraction of 30 percent in 2020, in line with other players. It’s hard to make predictions because despite a desire to restart, there’s still a sense of caution in the market.
Lincoln Germanetti, chief executive officer of Tollegno 1900
Thoughts on Pitti Connect: Partaking in the digital fair has represented a challenge both for organizers and exhibitors. It’s been a positive experience because it allowed us to spotlight our products and keep our contacts alive, albeit remotely. It’s a new way of doing business, which should not be underestimated.
Most innovative fall 2021 yarn: The “GZ! — Green Zone” dyeing formula comprises a range of sustainable, non-toxic dyes derived from plants or minerals, which can be applied to any yarn available in the Tollegno 1900’s portfolio, for up to 170 different nuances.
Business challenges and opportunities: All the global markets are facing a crisis. This forces us to rethink the entire pipeline, in addition to promoting innovative projects. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, any forecast would be partial or far from reality, given how fast things change. We carried out a range of “stress tests” on different levels to be prepared to cope with different scenarios we might face. They encompass a functional evaluation of the number of variables that we would need to introduce to limit damages and to support growth.
Sales forecasts for 2020: Tollegno Holding’s consolidated revenues slightly slipped in 2019, compared to 2018, amounting to 158 million euros…This year is definitely a “climbing path” but also an opportunity to rethink our strategies and commence new projects. In terms of budget, it’s more realistic and concrete to think that 2021 will show tangible signs of recovery.