MILAN — Italy’s fashion and artisan heartlands are fueling the nation’s manufacturing sector, said Intesa Sanpaolo, Italy’s largest retail bank.

In 2015, sales in Italy’s fashion industry rose 1.5 percent at current exchange, outpacing the rest of the manufacturing industry, which rose 1.1 percent and includes the automotive and appliances sector.

The data were compiled by Intesa Sanpaolo and released at the “Luxury Value Chains, Local Roots for A Global Future” conference organized in conjunction with London Business School’s Italy alumni chapter.

According to the Intesa Sanpaolo study, top performance was led by Belluno’s eyewear district, which was ranked number one. The poll was based on 2014 operating margins, sales evolution and export performance in the first nine months of 2015. The prosecco producing valley of Conegliano Valdobbiadene placed second, followed by the Carrara marble region. Arezzo’s leather and shoe region placed number seven, while the tanneries of Arzignano placed 15th on the list.

Overall, medium-size fashion companies led in terms of sales, rising 17.3 percent in 2014 versus 2008. Small companies rose 10.1 percent in the same period, large companies rose 13.5 percent, while micro-companies experienced a sharp decline of 6.8 percent.

“Italy’s fashion sector was already experiencing growth in 2013, despite the ongoing recession,” said chief Intesa Sanpaolo economist Gregorio de Felice. “I don’t want to hear that Italian fashion districts are dead.

“This is a lie,” San Felice added, noting that the nation’s fashion industry is the second most important sector of all and that it is key to the country’s economic growth.

According to Sistema Moda Italiana, the Italian textile and fashion industry is expected to have closed 2015 with sales of 52.6 billion euros, or $58.4 billion at average exchange rate, up 1.1 percent from the previous year.

In 2015, exports were up 2.1 percent to 29.1 billion euros, or $32.3 billion, despite a slowdown in key single markets like China and Russia.

The conference was presided over by industry leaders such as Camera della Moda president Carlo Capasa, Prada Group chairman Carlo Mazzi, Luxottica chief executive officer Massimo Vian and Emilio Pucci vice president Laudomia Pucci.

“The way to renew excellence in products, like we did with eyewear, is with Made in Italy know-how,” Vian said.

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