There’s no sign of a slowdown in the spending power of wealthy visitors to Italy from emerging foreign markets. As such, their shopping sprees are keeping smiles on the faces of Italian fashion executives.
“Our boutiques in Venice, Rome or Florence are all working well with tourists,” said Gian Giacomo Ferraris, chief executive officer of Versace. And Vittorio Missoni, head of the family-owned company, was equally upbeat, reporting the brand grew 15 percent in Southern Europe at stores teeming with tourists. He attributed this performance to the fact that the brand is recognized internationally.
A less local and more global business is increasingly key. Gianluca Brozzetti, ceo of Roberto Cavalli, projected a rosy future for companies that rely on exports and invest in “those markets that are growing the most,” such as China, where the firm plans to open 50 to 60 stores in five years. Exports account for about 85 percent of Cavalli’s sales.
It’s not surprising that brands are looking outside Italy’s borders, in light of the uncertainties the country faces. Milan Fashion Week runs Sept. 19 to 24, with the Gucci show inaugurating the spring presentations against the backdrop of a country struggling under the weight of a debt of 1.94 trillion euros, or $2.42 trillion, as reported by Banca d’Italia in June; a new fiscal austerity implemented by technocrat Prime Minister Mario Monti; ongoing political party squabbles; reduced consumer spending; higher gas prices, and deepening unemployment.
Monti’s austerity measures have helped Italy avoid bailouts such as those put in place in Greece by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. Last week, the European Central Bank unveiled its bond plan, providing some respite to Italians, whose negative frame of mind has also contributed to reducing their consumer spending. Despite a 2.6 percent drop in gross domestic product in the first half, Monti expects the country to start growing again in 2013.
Brozzetti viewed the fact that the ECB was prepared to print money as “an important step to keep the euro under control, as there are psychological and material consequences on company activities in detail and in general. Our vision is that luxury is faring well, despite the crisis, and there is growth.”
While touting a cost-containment strategy, the company is investing in retail with the opening, among others, of a new Just Cavalli boutique in Milan in central Corso Matteotti. It will be feted with a party on Sept. 21, during fashion week. Another Just Cavalli flagship is set to open in New York next spring. Brozzetti said the company’s first half closed with a 26 percent increase in sales at directly operated stores, of which about 11 percent is on a like-for-like basis.
Massimo Ferretti, executive chairman of Aeffe SpA, which produces collections for Alberta Ferretti, Moschino and others, said that “after a difficult start, it appears that in Italy, too, there is a return to a positive phase.” Ferretti remarked, however, that Aeffe will mainly grow outside of Italy, with the Far East leading the charge.
That said, Milan continues to be a relevant shopping attraction. Besides Just Cavalli, Belstaff and Max Mara Group’s Max & Co. will celebrate the opening of their new stores in the city during fashion week. A boutique dedicated to Versace Collection will open near the Just Cavalli unit on Corso Matteotti at the end of October.
“The year 2012 is a good one for us, and, based on spring 2013 orders, next year kicks off to a good start, too,” said Versace’s Ferraris, pointing to the company’s expansion next year in Japan, Turkey, Brazil — for the first time — and Korea.
The company will present the Versus collection after its two Versace shows on Sept. 21, throwing a party with a band performance, although the executive remained mum on the group’s name.
“Versus is rock ’n’ roll, and it works well in the evening. We wanted to leave a bold, extravagant sign on that Friday is a Versace day,” he said.
And this might also be seen as a juxtaposition to Giorgio Armani’s evening slot on Sept. 23, when the designer’s two shows will be followed by an event to unveil an exhibition of some of his most memorable designs.
According to the Fashion Economic Trends study published by Italy’s Chamber of Fashion, the Italian fashion industry’s revenues in 2012 are expected to fall 5.6 percent to 60.2 billion euros, or $77 billion at current exchange, compared with 2011. Business is expected to pick up in the last quarter, but still fall below the levels of the fourth quarter last year. The report also highlighted that countries outside Europe — in particular Russia and others in Asia, with a 43 percent gain in exports to China — helped balance the slowdown of the European market in the first half.
Exports in 2012 are forecasted to drop 2.4 percent to 41.6 billion euros, or $53.2 billion.
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye