Byline: Arthur Friedman

NEW YORK--The Italian Trade Commission is launching its largest marketing campaign ever targeted at the U.S. market.
The 14-month Moda Made in Italy program is aimed at enhancing and focusing the image and positioning of Italian-made fashion products and at strengthening business partnerships in the U.S., according to Dr. Gaspare Mario Asaro, deputy trade commissioner and director of Moda Made in Italy.
The ITC has established a separate division, Centro Moda Made in Italy, to oversee the program.
Asaro said the program is operating on a budget of close to $7 million, which is derived from the ITC's overall trade promotion budget. He said a similar program has been in place in Japan for a year and has been successful. The ITC receives its financing from the Italian Ministry of Trade.
Moda Made in Italy will encompass marketing activities for each of the four categories operating under the ITC's Fashion Center here: women's, men's, textiles and shoes. The program, planned in May, will start this month and pick up the pace in the fall.
In addition to image development meant to broaden U.S. distribution of Italian fashion products, the program, which runs until July 1995, will be an educational vehicle to improve interaction between the Italian and U.S. fashion communities.
"Our focus of the program is twofold," Asaro said. "First, our goal is to educate the U.S. fashion trade about the Italian fashion system, and second, to demonstrate to U.S. business leaders and consumers that Italian products consistently meet the needs of today's market. We want to demonstrate that Italian products represent good value and are a result of a unique manufacturing process and a unique culture and tradition."
The multifaceted program will encompass a range of activities and is flexible enough to add to, Asaro said.
A panel of experts representing U.S. and Italian retailers, manufacturers, trade associations, consultants, financial managers and fashion media, among others, was created to inform the U.S. trade of developments, to get feedback on the program and to make recommendations.
Among the panelists are Robert Fisher, executive vice president of The Gap; David Goldberg of the consulting firm Marketing Management Group; Louis Praino, senior vice president of production for the Donna Karan Cos.; Ken Russo, vice president and director of international sourcing for J.C. Penney Co.; Leopoldo Borzino, president of GFT USA; Sergio Garretti, president of Marzotto USA Corp., and Joan Kaner, senior vice president and fashion director of Neiman Marcus.
Training seminars and conferences with U.S. businesses will be conducted to improve relations between Italian manufacturers and U.S. distributors, and to educate American retailers on how to market Italian products more effectively. Video presentations produced through Focus Networks, a Dallas-based satellite communications and video production firm, will be conducted at key apparel marts throughout the country during market weeks.
A merchandising and in-store promotional campaign will include co-op activities with major specialty and department stores across the country starting this fall, as well as small-scale individualized promotions with independent stores.
One of the key cross-promotions will be with Saks Fifth Avenue here and will coincide with the ITC-sponsored Italian Metamorphosis exhibition to be held at the Guggenheim Museum here in October.
Augmenting the retail marketing campaign will be visual merchandising displays and product identification materials. In addition, incentive programs have been developed for sales associates.
A similar buyers' program will sponsor trips to Italy for manufacturers and retailers to meet with suppliers and trade associations, tour factories and see the culture of Italy.
ITC officials have scheduled meetings with major retailers to improve communications. Representatives from Centro Moda Made in Italy will conduct seminars and closed-circuit interactive video conferences to educate small retailers on how to market and merchandise Italian fashion.
The ITC is creating a sourcing guide for Italian textiles and manufacturing and is planning a quarterly newsletter for U.S. retailers and manufacturers.
And an incubator program is being developed with "major U.S. academic institutions" to act as a think tank to identify what Asaro calls "the partnerships of the future."
Two schools being considered are the Fashion Institute of Technology and Harvard Business School. Centro Moda Made in Italy will serve as an information bureau and resource center providing direction for Italian companies interested in establishing themselves in the U.S.
Asaro noted that the program is implemented by a steering committee consisting of the Italian Federation of Textile and Apparel Associations, the Italian Leathergoods Association and the Italian Footwear Association.

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