Lorenzo Incagli has quite clear ideas about yarns. It will be due to his long-term experience in the sector – he is responsible for coordinating the activities in Italy and abroad of Feel the Yarn, a brand under whose aegis are the initiatives of the Consorzio Promozione Filati – CPF – for his sensitivity in capturing market developments or for his personal vision, result of his close contact with some of the main players in the market. It is therefore not surprising that, speaking about the future of the sector, the discussion immediately falls on digitization, interpreter of that “new normal” that companies dealt with during the outbreak of the pandemic.
Covid-19 has profoundly changed not only individual approaches, marked by distancing, but also the way of working and business: smart working has become part of the dictionary of Italians and web platforms have become the new square where share thoughts and show products. If 2020 has therefore created the foundations for new paradigms and 2021 seems to continue on the same track, it is legitimate to ask what the world of yarns should expect in the medium and long term.
Spinning mills and digitization: what is the state of the art and what are the prospects for the future?
A premise is due: in the yarn sector, digital technology, also thanks to the limitations imposed by Covid-19, has served and is still being used to make known the characteristics of the products. We are going through a phase that insiders define Infocommerce, whose evolution will be the real e-commerce. A tool that will be reached if, in the future, reliable and efficient collective portals and marketplaces continue to develop. These ones will be spaces where, in addition to looking for information, you can also make purchases.
What are the real benefits of digitalization for a company of this sector?
There is no doubt that digitization is a challenge and, at the same time, a factor of change for small and medium-sized companies that can derive various benefits such as, for example, the recovery of efficiency for some non-productive processes. The most relevant plus, however, concerns the progressive insertion into the world of work of younger people, naturally inclined to innovation, more interactive languages and new forms of communication.
The pandemic has been a master of this because it has led to the need to find new channels in order to express oneself. The fairs immediately understood this by moving to digital platforms that, in addition to giving visibility, also shortened the distances with buyers and customers. Feel the Yarn (FTY) you moved in this direction but with another purpose …
Our project is not a real virtual fair, but rather an information platform on the world of Italian yarns. At the beginning it was complex to make our members understand its value, thanks both to the very difficult and confusing moment in which it was proposed, and to the simultaneous development of many other digital proposals, almost all of which, however, were born without a real long-term perspective. The seriousness of our work and the vision that we have been able to create have contributed to generating greater awareness in our representatives, who have been able to touch the consistency and opportunities of our project firsthand. A project that, collective and dynamic, requires constant innovations and a step-by-step modus operandi aimed at involving a growing number of companies. Today we can say that those who have chosen it “live” it more and more, showing interest in all the souls that make it up.
Have you made any changes for 2021?
Our platform is based on agility in consultation, intuitiveness in management and immediacy in research paths and aims to put companies in the foreground. To achieve these objectives, we revised the home page, highlighting 3 gateways to as many worlds: “seasonal trend”, “FTY’S Choice” – the marketplace of Italian yarns that can be filtered using the most sought-after key words by users – and “Italian Spinners”, a virtual space where the best Italian yarn producers can place their collections. Through a direct access from the home page it is therefore possible to land directly in the showrooms of each company, viewing the various seasonal products with just one click. Further revision concerns the news sector, increasingly updated and easy to consult, and the cover image that prefers interchangeability to fixedity through periodic replacements, always adhering to the trends of the season.
Digital represented an important turning point to allow the 11th edition of Feel the yarn – the Contest to be successfully completed. Balance of experience?
The digital contest was a wonderful experience. Starting from scratch on an FB group specially created for the purpose, it has attracted the interest of more than 5,000 people who have admired and voted online for the creations of the participants. It taught us that young people love digital technology that can be a winner to carry out a competition like ours, as long as it is used in the correct way.
Precisely this positive experience was the premise of the new contest aimed at stylists. Digital is also in the foreground in this case. How?
The new format involves 27 young designers between the ages of 22 and 35 called to create 2 knitted outfits using the yarns provided by the 27 CPF member companies that have embraced the initiative. Initiative that integrates a digital session on the successful Facebook group “FTY for New Designers” with a live one. Participants will first submit their creations to the vote of its members who will decide the 5 finalists. The designers will therefore be called to confront each other in presence during the desirable FW 22/23 edition of Pitti Immagine Filati in June where, to judge their work, a special international jury will be appointed in the meantime. The overall winner, awarded with a ceremony on the second day of the fair, will be given the opportunity to create their own capsule collection of 12 outfits for the SS22 season, entirely Made in Italy and mainly knitted.
Digital goes hand in hand with a presence activity: does the future of communication, but also of sales, for the yarn sector go in the direction of a live & digital mix?
I think that, as it happens with B2C, on-line and off-line will tend to interpenetrate. The tendency to acquire information on knitwear and the world of yarns on the web will increase and in parallel there will be an increasing use of digital relationships also for orders relating at least to the samples. At the same time, however, off-line fairs and events, even if organized with more modern and efficient formulas, will always have importance in favoring the relationship between customer and supplier, especially in the research phase and study of trends and new collections, both of yarns and finished products.