NEW YORK — The Italian fashion and textile industry is alive and well — with sales and exports both on the rise in 2017.According to a survey conducted by SMI for Pitti Immagine, overall sales for textile and apparel companies rose 2.8 percent in the first quarter, with apparel companies posting a gain of 3.6 percent and textile firms 1.3 percent.In the second quarter, the situation was brighter still, with an overall jump of 3.8 percent.Although figures are not yet available after July, estimates by participating companies indicate that sales through September continued to increase, albeit at a slower rate. SMI is expecting a more modest overall gain of 0.4 percent in that period.In terms of orders, Italian companies were running at around a 2.7 percent increase overall, with wool fabric producers among the best performers through the first seven months of the year. Textile orders were up 2 percent and apparel orders were up 3.1 percent in the period. The majority of companies surveyed were expecting the situation to remain stable through the rest of the year, with 18.6 percent projecting even further improvement.Turning to exports, foreign sales through the first seven months were up 2.4 percent, or to more than 17.9 billion euros, higher than imports, which rose 1.9 percent to nearly 12.4 billion euros.Russia was the country with the highest increase of Italian imports, posting a 13.4 percent jump over last year through July. China was a close second with an 11.5 percent increase, followed by Poland at 11.2 percent. Exports to the U.S. decreased slightly, down 0.6 percent.The numbers were released during the biannual lunch here hosted by Pitti Immagine in advance of its fall Pitti Uomo men’s show scheduled for Jan. 9 to 12 in Florence.Raffaello Napoleone, chief executive officer of Pitti Immagine, said the show will boast an increase in exhibitors this time, with 1,230 companies expected to participate. Some 541 brands, or 44 percent, of the total will come from outside Italy and there will be 227 brands at the upcoming edition.He said a key focus of the January show will be on ath-leisure and it will include a project called Athlovers @ Polyveriera, a collection of athletic-skewed collections that worked with the Reda textile mill to create products for the exhibition.The show will feature a duo of Japanese designers as guest designers: Undercover by Jun Takahashi and Takahiromiyashitathesoloist, who will present back-to-back men’s shows at the Stazione Leopolda on Jan. 11.The special event this year will center around the 200th anniversary of Brooks Brothers, which will stage its first fashion show at the Salone dei Cinquecento in the Palazzo Vecchio, along with a retrospective of the history of the brand.Other key elements of Pitti this time will be the premiere of M1992, a new product by Italian designer and deejay Dorian Stefano Tarantini, who is best known for his Malibu 1992 brand.Additionally, the International Woolmark Prize for men’s and women’s wear will be presented at Pitti for the first time.Finland will be the featured guest nation and include eight brands in a special area on the lower level of the Spazio Carra. Concept Korea, which focuses on brands from South Korea, will return once again, and Fear of God and Buscemi will set up a temporary shop at the Palazzo Gerini during the show.In January, Pitti Uomo attracted 36,000 attendees, including 24,600 buyers, 36.2 percent of whom were from abroad.
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