By  on February 16, 2006

Italians may not be favored for a medals-sweep at the Turin Winter Olympics, but they are gearing up for another season of double-digit sales growth in the fashion games.

Giorgio Armani, Versace, Missoni, Moschino and Dolce & Gabbana all boasted significant growth in pre-fall orders. Ferragamo noted a 14-percent sales jump for its women's footwear collection that featured hand-stitched ballerina slippers and fur clogs.

Pre-collection orders at Giorgio Armani and Armani Collezioni were up an average of 10 percent on the year, a spokesman said, specifying knee-length skirts as especially popular this season. Versace's pre-fall orders were up 20 percent, said Loredana Nastro, director of Versace's wholesale division. She noted strong demand for jersey and chiffon cocktail dresses as well as big-ticket accessories like fur and crocodile handbags. "Now more than ever, customers want the new collections earlier and earlier and it does not matter what part of the world they come from. It's all about having the new season bag or silk shirt before anyone else," Nastro said.

Missoni pre-fall orders were up an average of 10 percent. Vittorio Missoni, sales and marketing manager of the family-owned company, said the U.S., Russia, Eastern Europe and the United Kingdom were posting the most growth for the brand while orders in Asia were "stable." He added that knitwear and accessories were strong sellers for the brand.

"I can't complain," he said. "Right now we aren't making major changes in terms of our distribution, but there's a lot of interest."

Dolce & Gabbana said total pre-fall sales rose 35 percent. Those in the U.S. advanced 25 percent while orders from other less-developed markets around the world increased 41 percent. Top-selling items included stretch-wool suits, double-breasted trenchcoats, lace cocktail dresses and cotton poplin tuxedo shirts.

At Moschino, pre-collection orders were up 10 percent while those of Cheap & Chic were up 12.5 percent. Jackets, dresses, knitwear, five-pocket jeans and accessories were at the top of order books.

Antonella Tomasetti, general director at Moschino, said requests from Italy, the Middle East and Eastern Europe were the strongest. She added that the U.S. and Asia were also performing well, while European countries apart from Italy were growing at a slower rate."We think that buyers are embracing the coherence of the brand, which, despite evolving over the years, has maintained a clear identity," Tomasetti said.

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