MILAN — The Russian market continues to play a significant role for Italian exports, especially for the textile sector, according to Sistema Moda Italia and the agency ICE, which promotes and internationalizes Italian businesses.

With 146 million potential customers, Russia is one of the main outlets for fashion Made in Italy and registered an export value of 590 million euros, or $656 million at average exchange rate, over the period from January to August, confirming Italy as the second largest supplier after China.

During 2015, Sistema Moda Italia and ICE launched a special program aimed at the Russian market, which included the macroeconomic and sociological surveys, carried out by Future Concept Lab, the activation of market accessibility with the focus on customs and non-tariff barriers and training seminars.

“The activities organized by ICE and SMI are particularly significant at this time,” said ICE’s general director Roberto Luongo in Milan on Thursday at a press conference focusing on evolving scenarios in Russia. “Italian companies confirm a strong focus on the Russian market, rewarded by a renewed interest of local buyers,” he added.

It is interest that was also strengthened during Milan’s Women’s Fashion Week in September at Sistema Moda Italia’s showroom, which was visited by a delegation of 30 Russian buyers. In addition, training programs for sales staff of shops and showrooms of Italian brands in Russia were held in Moscow in October to increase the knowledge of Russia’s main trends, sales techniques and targeted visual merchandising.

Stefano Festa Marzotto, director of Sistema Moda Italia’s area of promotion and internationalization, underscored the importance of the project. “Russia is a country that is worth a lot to our industry, and that has had difficult objectives in recent years due to facts that did not depend on our industry,” he said, adding: “This aid and support to our entrepreneurs served to maintain market share, to lose less and these are the results that we have seen.”

According to Federica Dottori, director of Sistema Moda Italia’s area dedicated to internationalization, the activities will be repeated next year in a bigger way and aimed at incoming buyers. “This year we would like to develop a temporary showroom for all those brands that do not have a [location] in Milan,” she said, adding that the presentations will take place in conjunction with the sales campaign for men, women and kids, between January to February and July to September.

Korea is also on the map for next year, a country where major brands are already present. In March, the Ministry of Economic Development, joined by Sistema Moda Italia, will hold five-day training seminars and technical meetings on regulations and tariff barriers. “Korea is a more mature market, we are not pioneers for the little ones,” added Dottori.