MILAN — Signs of a recovery of the Italian fashion industry are coming into view, but not before 2014.
This story first appeared in the September 10, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The Italian Chamber of Fashion presented its Fashion Economic Trends research on Monday at a press conference at Milan’s city hall, ahead of fashion week starting on Sept. 18 and in the presence of Milan’s mayor, Giuliano Pisapia, and the councillor to fashion, Cristina Tajani.
Mirroring the chamber’s upbeat mood, with renewed efforts to reinvigorate Milan Fashion Week, the study forecasts a 3.5 percent increase in revenues for the Italian fashion industry, including textile, clothing, leather goods and shoes, in the first half of 2014.
Continued growth in exports will be offset by Italy’s weak economy, which impacts expectations for 2013. This year, revenues are forecast to drop 2.5 percent to 58.85 billion euros or $77.55 billion at current exchange.
Exports in 2013 are seen reaching 45.1 billion euros, or $59.43 billion, up 4 percent compared with 2012, and growing 7 percent in the first half of 2014. While imports are expected to edge down 1 percent in 2013 to 26.09 billion euros, or $34.38 billion, they are forecast to grow 4.5 percent in the first half of 2014.
“The difficulties in the first and second quarter of 2013 were acute,” said the study, thus affecting the fashion industry, as much as other industries. Although signs of improvement were visible midyear, it is too early to speak of a recovery, said the study. The silver lining is that the figures have improved compared with the previous quarters.
“We must note, however, that the positive notes come exclusively from foreign markets, while Italy continues to show decreases. We will not be able to talk about a light at the end of the tunnel until there is a recovery in national consumer spending,” the study added.
Mario Boselli, head of the chamber, said that “a slight improvement in Italy” is expected by the end of the year, and that the country will pick up in the first half of 2014. After consistent decreases over the past six quarters, the yarn and textile industry showed signs of improvement in the second quarter of 2013, which “always bodes well for the apparel industry, as it anticipates trends,” said Boselli.
In the first five months of 2013, consumer spending remained weak in the euro zone, but gained in the U.S. (up 7 percent); the U.K. (up 6.4 percent), and Japan (up 10.5 percent). China continues to grow at a double-digit pace. The study described the 2013 slowdown in the pace of growth in Brazil, Russia, India and China as a “physiological phenomenon” and necessary for “an orderly development of these economies,” in order to avoid “explosive tensions” stemming from the growth rate seen over the past few years. The BRIC area, together with Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey, accounted for 11.2 percent of exports in the first half.
Asked how he felt about the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton acquisition of Loro Piana this summer, Boselli said he regretted that such companies are no longer Italian, but “we must look at the buyers. Groups such as Kering and LVMH show a history of consistency and success.” He praised the groups for “maintaining the Made in Italy production in the most rigorous way, fully respecting this value — something that not all Italian designers have always taken into consideration.”