MILAN — Despite the recent political changes, Italy’s government continues to support the country’s fashion industry and has pledged to channel 36 million euros, or $38.1 million, in the system this year through the Italian Trade Commission.Opening Pitti Uomo in Florence on Tuesday, Carlo Calenda, Italy’s minister for economic development, revealed the investment, and Gaetano Marzotto, president of organizing body Pitti Immagine, said the government has upped the quota allotted to the fashion industry from 23 million euros, or $24.3 million, three years ago.Emphasizing the importance of Calenda inaugurating the international men’s wear trade show, Marzotto said the minister showed confidence in the event and underscored the efforts organizers are making to attract buyers from new countries.Calenda praised Pitti’s innovative formats and products, presented by 1,200 brands, which draw 25,000 buyers each season, said Marzotto. “More in general, Calenda realizes the fashion industry employs one million people.” Calenda was reconfirmed in his role by new Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, who succeeded Matteo Renzi in December. (Incidentally, Italian media reported on Wednesday that Gentiloni is recovering from an angioplasty). Renzi resigned in the wake of a referendum defeat. “When Calenda was deputy minister three years ago, he understood how fashion is a leading sector in Italy, relying on an entire pipeline,” said Marzotto. He praised former Coty Group executive Michele Scannavini and current president of ICE: “You can tell he is a business man, practical and concrete.”The entrepreneur touched on the subject of a new fashion federation, an alliance that will unite industry associations SMI Sistema Moda Italia, Assocalzaturifici (footwear), Aimpes (leather goods) and Anfao (eyewear). This is expected to take shape “over the next few months,” he said.“Stability” is one request Marzotto put forward to the government. “Entrepreneurs need stability. We are worried about the pending elections in France and Germany. Calenda of course can’t solve this, but our request is for Italy to contribute to a united Europe. We need to be more competitive and we need more investments in research and development, in the universities, and to employ young people.” A priority is also to become more efficient, streamlining bureaucracy, and curbing the tax weight, which crimps local consumer spending, he said. “The reforms should continue, and we need a new electoral law.”Domestic production has seen an uptick, as did exports, said Marzotto. “We are moderately optimistic,” he observed.Based on the spring/summer orders, the business climate in Italy continues to be weak, while it’s “better” outside the country. “The big question now hovers over the U.S., with [President-elect] Donald Trump, the dollar and whether he will [spar] with China or Europe — although I have doubts about the latter,” said Marzotto.Speaking of China, he noted that consumer spending has picked up in the region, as well as in Asia, including Japan and South Korea, and in Russia.
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