Milano Unica, the international fabric trade show held in Milan, from Feb. 3-6, saw a 20% drop in visitors, compared with its Feb. 2008 edition.

The event registered 24,000 visitors for this edition but was missing foreign visitors particularly from Japan, the USA and Spain.

Meanwhile, attendance remained steady amongst European and Italian visitors and significant buyers on site continued to acknowledge the high quality of the offerings at this fair. For instance, Mayra Hernandes (Christian Cota), Alfonso Yepez (Generra) and Guillermo Mariotto (Gattinoni) overtly expressed their views of the fair as a leading textile trade event.

Companies such as Hugo Boss, which said it would have not participated the event, in the end also attended the fair.

As Guillermo Mariotto, designer of the Gattinoni haute couture house, explained, “At Milano Unica one can find everything one needs to create a complete and top-notch collection. And there’s no need to search for that anywhere else.”

Overall, a total of 543 exhibitors (over 100 fewer than at the Sept. 2008 edition) showed their S/S 2010 fabric collections, occupying a surface area of about 22,000 sq. meters, here. Of the 543 exhibitors, 430 were Italian and 113 from other European countries (roughly 21%), including France, Spain, the UK, Germany and Portugal.

Two overarching concerns at the fair were the recession and its effect on the international economy and the need for a stronger presence of the Italian textile industry on a global level. In 2008 Italian textiles drew a turnover of more than €8.8 billion (down 4.6% from the previous year and about the same as 2005).

As for the various divisions, all reported losses: while the silk sector registered only a slight 2% decrease, the woolen and knit divisions decreased by about 4%. Cotton, which represents about 31% of the total turnover, meanwhile suffered a loss of 5.2%, while the linen division, which represents a marginal value of total textiles, registered a decrease in the double digits.

In other news, Paolo Zegna, who has headed the Milano Unica since its creation, announced during the inaugural ceremony of Milano Unica, his successor as Pier Luigi Loro Piana.

Loro Piana is now President of Milano Unica and Ideabiella, a textile trade show within Milano Unica.

Said Loro Piana, after thanking Zegna for his significant commitment to Milano Unica: “We can get out of this crisis in a number of ways. Some, but not many, will be able to succeed by themselves. However, I am convinced that together we will have a better chance. In fact, Milano Unica was established for this objective. Moreover, we must continue to explore new possibilities aimed at promoting our textiles on the international market.”

The next edition of Milano Unica will run from Sept. 8-11, 2009, at Fieramilanocity, an exhibition area nearer to Milan’s city center than the albeit more modern Rho Pero site.

—Maria Cristina Pavarini