MILAN — While “moments of great discontinuity,” will continue to mark 2015, Italy’s fashion industry is expected to log in a 1.6 percent growth in the first half of the year, according to the Fashion Economic Trends study by the country’s Chamber of Fashion. During a press conference held Tuesday to present Milan Fashion Week, running Feb. 25 to March 2, Mario Boselli, president of the association, forecast more rapid growth in the second half. “The 1.6 percent growth estimate will be abundantly surpassed [in the whole year],” he said. “The positive trend seen in January at Pitti Uomo and in Milan during the men’s wear fashion week will strengthen going forward.”
Among the factors buoying forecasts, Boselli cited falling oil prices and “the attitude of the European Central Bank and banks in general — the credit crunch is behind us.” Long an advocate of a weaker euro, Boselli said the current exchange rate against the dollar “makes a huge difference for our industry,” favoring Italy’s exports. Despite a slowdown in Russia and emerging markets, exports in 2014 are expected to grow 4.8 percent to 47.4 billion euros, or $54 billion, at current exchange rate. Boselli was cautious about international sanctions that, he said, “harm us more than Russia,” adding that he expected business with Russia should pick up mid-year.
Sales in 2014 are expected to grow 3.7 percent to 61.6 billion euros, or $70.2 billion, compared with 59.4 billion euros, or $67.7 billion, in the previous year. The last quarter weighed on the year, dented by a stagnant local market, according to the study.
In the first 10 months of 2014, the most dynamic sectors were leather goods, up 6.5 percent, followed by shoes, which gained 3.8 percent. Sales of textiles rose 3.4 percent, while apparel was up 1.1 percent, slowing down after a good start to the year.
In the first nine months of 2014, exports were up 4.9 percent, compared with the same period in the previous year. Sales to the U.K. and Germany climbed 12.9 percent and 12.8 percent, respectively.
Exports to the U.S. and Hong Kong rose 15 and 15.6 percent, respectively. In the period, sales to Russia decreased 15.9 percent.
Boselli will step down from his role on April 15, a position he has held since 1999, to take on an honorary presidency. Asked about his successor, Boselli said there is still “no candidate at the door.” The Camera’s strategic committee, which includes, among others, Patrizio Bertelli, Stefano Sassi, Gildo Zegna, Renzo Rosso and Luigi Maramotti, “is working on this,” Boselli added.