MILAN — Once a beacon for Italian fashion companies, the U.S. is increasingly losing its pole position as regions such as China, India and the Middle East become engines for revenue growth.
And American retailers are starting to take notice.
"Emerging countries may distract [Italian manufacturers] from the importance of the U.S.," said Burt Tansky, chairman of the Neiman Marcus Group Inc., during a conference organized here Friday by Altagamma, the Italian association of luxury goods companies. "We have specific needs, such as light weights of fabrics in the increasing warming trends of fall, or more colors, and we are concerned if emerging countries take precedence."
The executive reiterated how trading down in slow times is "not an option" for Neiman Marcus, and underscored how relevant Italian brands are in terms of the luxury business. "The U.S. market requires more creativity and thought," said Tansky, fearing an "imbalance" in priorities as Italian brands may shift their attention to customers who have entirely different needs from those in America.
Gildo Zegna, chief executive officer of Ermenegildo Zegna, downplayed these differences. "Business is increasingly global, and needs in the U.S. are similar to those in the rest of the world," said Zegna, noting how multiple collections or lightweight merchandise are requirements in the U.S., but also in emerging countries, as well.
Zegna, together with Santo Versace, chairman of Versace, Francesco Trapani, ceo of Bulgari, and Michele Norsa, ceo of Salvatore Ferragamo, all said the American market continues to be very important. However, the executives did not deny they are being lured by emerging markets.
"It costs less to invest in China and we have immediate returns," said Versace, noting at the same time that no area is overlooked. Even a mature market such as Europe continues to be "important," and said a number of brands are turning their attention to "second-tier cities in the U.S.," now that big cities there have been covered.
"In 10 years, Asia will play a key role, it's undeniable," said Norsa. Trapani said the big challenge was to put forward "a global strategy, while penetrating local needs."The executive said brands need to "be able to localize our proposals to local needs," and that, while it may not be achieved for all markets, it should be done in the U.S. and the top areas. Trapani, who was somewhat positive about 2008, although a year "more difficult" than 2007, said "global companies can compensate a slowdown in mature markets with business in Russia, the Middle East and Asia."
Altagamma expects sales in the U.S. to grow 6 percent in 2008. Asia is forecasted to grow between 15 and 20 percent. The U.S. accounts for 30 percent of the total luxury goods market.
“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
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye