Wool’s Euro opportunity

Zach RelphCountryman
Superfine wool.
Camera IconSuperfine wool. Credit: Bob Garnant

COVID-19’s blistering impact on European consumers’ will to purchase has been likened to an “atomic bomb” amid a weakening demand for woollen garments.

However, a Milan-based wool industry figure is confident the coronavirus crisis is not a “crisis of consumption” and could offer opportunities for the international wool market.

Woolmark regional manager for continental Europe Francesco Magri said Italy had been ravaged by the viral pandemic in the past two months as retailers shut up shop.

Woolmark regional manager for continental Europe Francesco Magri.
Camera IconWoolmark regional manager for continental Europe Francesco Magri. Credit: AWI

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“This was like an atomic bomb ... from one day to the other you couldn’t buy anything,” Mr Magri told Australian Wool Innovation’s The Yarn podcast.

“Stores were closed, brands were not ready for this. It is a negative period in terms of the atomic bomb we had in the last two months but for wool they are opportunities for us.”

Mr Magri urged fashion outlets to view the pandemic as a means to explore other selling avenues, such as online.

“This is a crisis of ... how you sell your garments because the stores where people used to go to buy clothes were closed,” he said.

“(Stores now) have to reduce the traffic in the stores and for those high street brands, store traffic is very important.

“So the situation is a big crisis; most of the high street brands are close to 20 per cent to 30 per cent of the physical stores here in Italy.”

According to Mr Magri, luxury brands including Gucci and Versace have remained in production.

He said Italian wool processors were starting to resume production, with designers preparing to reduce spring collections in the wake of the coronavirus impact.

“The brands now are developing their spring summer collections,” he said.

“Brands like Max Mara, like Gucci, like Versace, they think they will reduce the collection by 25 per cent to 30 per cent — it means they will buy less fabrics.

“Everyone is forecasting a return to almost normality in winter 2021/22.

“For wool, let’s say we are losing one season, it is worse for the spring summer collection because it means two seasons not just one.”

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