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Italian Textilers on the Forefront of Innovation

When it’s deliver-or-die, supply chains become the lifeblood of a company. To that end, the fashion industry has embraced technology to navigate today’s hyper-complicated supply chain, with myriad solutions shaping the first, middle and last mile. Call it Sourcing 2.0.

Despite forecasts predicting significant drops in revenue, at least one sector of Italy’s fashion and textile industry is working to remain innovative–Italian yarn manufacturers, it appears, have continued to invest in research and development. Italian fashion and textile revenues are expected to drop 4.4%, to 50.45 billion euros, in 2012, but the textile industry is apparently undeterred by the troubling numbers.

Italian yarn maker Filatura di Saluzzo has spent the last five years developing Newlife, technology that converts plastic bottles into polyester yarns. Aiming for a product that was “sustainable yet beautiful and elegant,” according to Filatura’s CEO, the company enlisted another company to collect plastic bottles in northern Italy, and yet another to convert the plastic into polyester. Filatura then transforms the polymers into yarns that are UV resistant, antibacterial and quick drying. The product, called Newlife, now accounts for 15-20% of Filatura’s products; Marks & Spencer, Eileen Fisher and Decathlon are among Newlife’s main clients.

Newlife isn’t the only environmentally friendly innovation on the Italian textile market–the Chamber of Commerce in Prato, a tuscan textile district, has created a certification for textiles produced with zero-emmisions and recycled wool. To be certified, companies that give off carbon dioxide must buy compensatory credits, which are then used to combat deforestation and to support other green endeavors.

Zegna Baruffa Lane Borgosesia, a major Italian yarn exporter, has also been investing in new technology. Their latest development, Brand New Wool, is quick-drying, easy to iron, and adjusts to skin temperature. The Tessitura Taiana Virgilio textile company has developed a fabric called Allure, a fabric woven from so-called “intelligent” yarn that transmits infrared emissions, and, according to Taiana, improves the wearer’s microcirculation for increased skin elasticity and “an immediate slimming effect.”

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