Global business has undergone a profound transformation of late as brands and retailers seek ways to pursue new consumers and promote products – that’s why the Italian Trade Agency (ITA) has stepped in to support its top talent abroad. Call it creative aid.
The Italian Trade Agency (ITA) is a governmental agency that supports the business development of Italian companies worldwide and promotes the attraction of foreign investment in Italy. Its mission is to help Italian brands expand by highlighting products that make Italian fashion and accessories truly distinguished in the market, and does so through its platform extraitastyle.com, which launched in fall 2020.
One year later and EXTRAITASTYLE has added 75 new brands to its platform as it caters to an industry that has been largely confined to digital business and virtual relationships due to COVID-19.
EXTRAITASTYLE – an acronym for “extraordinary Italian style” – recently debuted its fully revamped website with updated features such as improved search functionality, new discovery tools, and refreshed content. The organization said that hundreds of buyers from independent American boutiques and department stores registered to access its platform for free – and the Italian Trade Agency projects that number to double over the next year.
Paola Guida, Deputy Director, Fashion & Beauty of the Italian Trade Agency, told Fairchild Studio that its growing roster of retailers also means the introduction of new categories to its platform, such as bridal, swimwear and contemporary fashion brands alongside existing accessories brands, menswear, women’s wear, footwear, handbags, and leather goods.
Guida added that Italian accessory brands have always fared well in the U.S. market due to their premium quality and luxurious designs. “Regarding Italian accessories, there’s been a long-time celebration in the U.S. for Italian leather goods especially. I think we’re seeing today’s consumers becoming more anti-fast fashion – which is a good thing.”
Fairchild Studio reached out to accessories brand Mantero, featured on the EXTRAITASTYLE platform, about the ‘Made in Italy’ ethos. “We firmly believe the ‘Made in Italy’ message could be enhanced by a platform that is an ambassador of Italian brands,” they said, adding that craftsmanship is part of “Italian social tissue” and found in every region by specialization, inclusive of jewelry, textiles, leather goods, and ceramics.
“Customers want quality goods that will last a lifetime, and they care more than ever about the sustainable impact of their choices,” Guida said. “‘Made in Italy’ is associated first and foremost with quality and hand craftsmanship, and we’re certainly seeing a resurgence of those values among buyers and, ultimately, shoppers.”
Naturally, new brands to the platform are motivated by the hope for exposure. Footwear brand 3JUIN told Fairchild Studio that its brand “is not yet well known in the U.S. market. We think that the EXTRAITASTYLE.COM digital platform can become a new means, and a new partner, to introduce us to [American consumers].”
And apparel brand Royal Row shared similar sentiments: “The EXTRAITASTYLE platform could be an excellent opportunity to expand our market by giving visibility to the high quality of ‘Made in Italy’ products,” the brand said.
Approved retailers are granted private access to its platform and can view each brand’s custom-made 3-D Virtual Boutique, which currently showcases a curated selection from the upcoming spring/summer ’22 season, as well as a slew of seasonless, trendless pieces. Retailers can also review product catalogs and pricing, notate favorite items, review companies’ heritage and values, and contact brands of interest directly via email messaging or by setting up a Virtual Appointment, the organization said.
What’s more is that brands can virtually present their collections through a myriad of lifestyle imagery, product photos and videos on their dedicated brand page. “The platform is purposefully designed to allow retailers to discover many new brands all in one place – and they can be assured that the brands are worthwhile discoveries due to the ‘Made in Italy’ promise of quality and the best craftsmanship,” according to ITA.
Fairchild Studio also connected with luxury footwear and accessories brand Castori for an additional brand perspective. “Fashion is a sector in constant movement and the companies that are part of it know well that to keep up with the times, you need a lot of passion, creativity and skills – all aspects of ‘Made in Italy.’”
“The traditions of each territory and [abilities displayed] by the skilled hands of our artisans allow for the creation of accessories that are capable of transmitting authentic Italian craftsmanship to the world,” the brand added.
Fashion Moving Forward
ITA emphasized that trends this year are focused on the fervor of getting back to work and attending events. “As we’re finally able to think about what a post-pandemic world might look like, there’s definitely a renewed excitement for workwear and occasion-wear. I think people have gotten very tired of yoga pants and comfort-wear after so much time. People are excited to get dressed up again! They’re excited to discover new designers. We’re seeing a proclivity for prints and bold colors, and very high-quality embellishments. Loungewear is now trending toward luxury as well.”
Guida said that even when shopping for basics, consumers are seeking pieces that are more elevated and have been “intentional” with their choices. “Knitwear is a great example,” he told Fairchild Studio. “Buyers are looking for truly high-quality pieces – from the most precious yarns, made from the finest micro-gauge cashmere.”
“Overall, I think there’s been a real change in consumer ethos and COVID-19 has made people aware of the value of people. Customers care about the story – they want to feel good about their decisions because they know the heritage and tradition that is passed down from the Italian artisans who use their own hands to make each unique product.”
Leather handbag and accessories brand Campomaggi concurred that Italian goods are differentiated by their authentic heritage designs. “The quality, style and attention to detail is unmatched by any other country. Each Campomaggi product is 100 percent Made in Italy and is characterized by craftsmanship handed down for generations,” they explained.
ITA said that its goal remains unchanged as it aims to provide more digital tools to its Italian brands and help streamline their experiences with business in the U.S. “We find that retailers are doing more and more discovery online now, and we want to give them all the tools we can to make them feel the “Made in Italy” purpose and promise – even online.”