The Rupp Report: FILO: The European Art Of Surviving In Spinning

Spinning was most probably the impetus for the first Industrial Revolution in the 18th century. And
most probably, there is no other sector in the whole textile production chain that underwent such
drastic changes over the centuries and decades.

From humble beginnings in Great Britain, the spinning sector started conquering the European
continent in the 20th century. Until the early 1960s, for staple yarn spinning, there was mainly
one technology: ring spinning. Then, new technologies came into the market: open-end or rotor
spinning; then, compact spinning; and also, air-jet spinning. Today, virtually all of these
technologies have their space and markets.

The Two Sides Of The Coin

However, where are these markets today? The answer to this question is quite simple: almost
everywhere. But where are the production sites for these yarns? The answer to this question is not
that easy. It depends on the requirements of the various end-uses. Over the last four decades, yarn
production moved eastward and arrived — no surprise — largely in China. On the one hand, the
textile machinery industry sold millions and millions of spindles to Asian markets, bringing the
Western spinning industry deep troubles. On the other hand, the quality of Asian yarns increased
considerably. However, some fine-count cotton yarns were still produced in Western countries,
although not for a very long time. The prices of these yarns were and are so competitive that many
spinning mills in the Western world closed down. That was the very end of the commodity market for
Western spinners.

For quite a long time, China has been seen as an antagonist for virtually every
textile-producing country in the world. China is today competing in all sectors of the textile
industry, including machinery. The saying goes that Chinese manufacturers, and mainly yarn and
fabric producers, have no competition. Is this the undisputed truth? China is also facing the
well-known problems of today.

The Art Of Fashion

So, one should talk about quantities, and about delivery times — this is about fashion, and
so, it’s about colors, and above all, quality. In every market, and definitely in the apparel
market, there are and always have been a low-end and a high-end or niche market. And niche markets
are not willing to buy the quantities that are needed today to be considered as a customer for
Asian spinners.

In a nutshell, one should talk about the art of fine yarn and fabric production and not about
prices. There must be some remaining spinners that have the will and are capable of producing yarns
for a very defined market segment. You think, dear reader, this a fairy tale? To check whether it’s
true or not, the Rupp Report went to Milan — sorry, French people — the center of design and

The Art Of The — Mostly — Italian Way

As the Rupp Report mentioned some weeks ago, the yarn exhibition FILO took place in Milan
last week. And, to an observer from a neighboring country, it is always fascinating to see how the
Italians live and organize their lives and survive with an attitude that is second to none. Is
there maybe a secret behind all this? An explanation is quite difficult. The official opening of
the show demonstrated in a way how the Italians conduct their way of life. Words like non mollare,
grinta and amore were used in different speeches.

Non mollare means, essentially, “we never give up.” Grinta means something like “the will to
do it, to get it done,” or just “hang on to it.” Amore is obvious — it means “love.” But here, it
refers to the admiration, the commitment and the love for the job, for the work to do. The summary
of all this could be named Italianità, meaning “the Italian character.”

The Art Of Being Different

Well, most of the interviewed exhibitors have been attending FILO for a long time. However,
there are always newcomers like Camenzind & Co. AG, which produces 100-percent silk yarns Made
in Switzerland. Managing Director Nicole Camenzind said that her company is selling a lot of silk
to Italian customers, and she was told that FILO provides a good opportunity to present the
products. Yet, the first contacts were quite promising.

Roberto Belloli and his company, Antonio Aspesi S.r.l., are doing something very different:
this Italian company is selling tailor-made filament warps. “Our customers are weaving special
products, so they need special warps, customized to their needs. And that is what we are doing.”

One well-known yarn producer is Switzerland-based Hermann Bühler AG, which has a big
subsidiary in the United States — Buhler Quality Yarns Corp. in Jefferson, Ga.: The company is an
established producer of fine-count yarns made of extra-long-staple cotton and MicroModal® and
blends. Renata Franz, business development and marketing manager, said that the company is still
going to Expofil; however, it seems that the Swiss are not very happy with the Paris exhibition. On
the other hand, she said, “we are here at FILO for the second time and have already booked for

Botto Poala S.p.A. is an Italian producer of fine yarns made of wool, cashmere and silk, all
Made in Italy. The company is a part of Italy-based Zegna Baruffa Lane Borgosesia S.p.A., and
Nicoletta Meriglio of Botto Poala mentioned that FILO is the most important yarn show for weavers;
however, many companies presented yarns for knitting, too.

Another Italy-based exhibitor with excellent products is Filatura Pettinata “Luisa 1966”
S.r.l. The company is exclusively producing fine and finest yarns made of 100-percent Merino wool.
Laura Mauri presented a range of yarns to the Rupp Report, which, with all due respect to other
exhibitors, it found to be just mind-blowing. To this old horse from spinning and weaving, these
yarns were so unique that he will need another report to describe them. More information about this
spring’s FILO is to come in the near future.

All this reporting covers just a fraction of the impressions that the exhibitors — that is,
their excellent products — provoked in this reporter. All of them are playing in the top league of
yarn and fabric production. The customers are mainly specialized weavers and knitters in Europe —
including Italy, France, Germany and Great Britain — and also customers from Japan, the United
States and Canada.

The Art Of Perfect Customer Service

When asked how they persist in today’s harsh market, all of the interviewed exhibitors said
they are not competing with Asian products. “Only experienced people with perseverance, passion and
the love for their job can do this,” one of them said. The issue is not the price; it is the unique
products and the possibility to buy small lots, even 25 kilograms. “Textiles are emotion,”
mentioned Franz, of Bühler. And at the end of the conversation with Antonio Aspesi’s Belloli, while
discussing customer needs, he said: “We are not selling yarn, we are selling service.” And that
seems and must be the essence of the art of survival for European manufacturers.

The 40th edition of FILO will be held October 9-10, 2013.

March 26, 2013