Confindustria Moda's headquarters in Milan.

MILAN — Confindustria Moda has found a home.

The Italian federation, collecting around 67,000 companies operating in the fashion, textile and accessories sectors, unveiled new offices in Via Villasanta 3 — in Milan’s central and exclusive Sempione area — on Tuesday.

Established last year, Confindustria Moda merged fashion and textile consortium SMI Sistema Moda Italia and FIAMP, which used to represent the companies working in the accessories industry, including leather goods, eyewear, fur and jewelry.

Each association has relocated to the 40,902-square-foot building, which Confindustria Moda’s president, Claudio Marenzi, defined as “The house of fashion” during the press conference held before the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“Socializing is key, it has been at the core of our thoughts when we founded Confindustria Moda. We thought having one, common [location] was essential…and to be here together, socializing and sharing our problems will help us to be even more cohesive in the future,” said Marenzi.

Confindustria Moda ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Confindustria Moda ribbon-cutting ceremony.  Courtesy Photo

In addition to each association, the building hosts the new, operative offices of Confindustria Moda, which has fulfilled its first three, main tasks announced last year establishing a legal arm, a trade union office and research facility.

“These three areas are already effective, at disposal of associates and they are performing very well,” said Marenzi. The unification of such services will facilitate operations such as fighting counterfeiting and protecting intellectual property for what concerns the legal area and handling trade union negotiations through the single referent represented by Confindustria Moda.

“With the research facility, our goal is to become everybody’s reference point and source of accurate figures for everything concerning this industry,” added Marenzi.

In addition to these three areas, the federation’s agenda will include operations lying outside the national borders, as enhancing Confindustria Moda on a European scale and expand its reach globally, especially in emerging countries, where each association-related trade show are not present yet.

Internationalization is key for the Italian fashion business in general, as preliminary data compiled by Confindustria Moda research facility showed. Tracking the performance of the industry — comprising the textile, fashion, footwear, leather goods, tanning, eyewear, fur and jewelry sectors — in 2017, the study indicated that exports were once again a major force, accounting for 61.8 billion euros of the industry’s total sales of 94.2 billion euros. In particular, exports were up 5.2 percent, while sales increased 3.2 percent compared to the previous year.

Almost half of exported goods are textile and fashion products, followed by footwear, leather goods and jewelry, which accounted for 15, 12 and 11 percent, respectively.

Europe represented 47.8 percent of the export destinations. France, Germany, the U.K. and Spain all registered positive performances, with exports toward these countries up 5.7, 3.7, 4.1 and 5 percent, respectively.

As for the extra-European countries, exportations toward Swiss climbed 17.2 percent to 5.8 billion euros. Exports to the U.S. increased 0.8 percent to 5.4 billion euros, while in the Far East, Hong Kong, China and South Korea grew 3.2, 14.1 and 8.5 percent, respectively.

Incidentally, import grew 3.1 percent to 34 billion euros, with China leading the list of Italy’s main suppliers. Even if imports from China decreased 1.3 percent to 6.8 billion euros, the country still accounted for 20 percent of the total imported goods. France and Germany were next in the ranking, with importations up 9.5 percent in both cases.

Forecasts for 2018 are marked by a cautious approach due to uncertainty surrounding the global growth in general, including geopolitical tensions, currency fluctuations and “an unprecedented political impasse we’re living these days in Italy,” said Confindustria Moda’s vice president Cirillo Marcolin.

“What we would ask [to the new government] is to keep working in the direction of the last four years,” said Marenzi referencing how, over said period, the former administrations acknowledged the fashion industry and its contribution to Italy’s economy.

“Let’s not forget that the fashion industry represents half of the Italian positive trade balance, accounting for over 27 billion euros of the total 52 billion euros,” noted Marenzi, adding that “if the politicians go back to thinking what they thought before” — as considering the industry ephemeral — “we do have to worry.”

Confindustria Moda offices.

Confindustria Moda offices.  Courtesy Photo

Designed by the architectural firm Il Prisma, the Confindustria Moda building was recovered from the headquarters of the tie-specialist Nicky brand. In particular, entrepreneur John Nicky Chini established his label’s manufacturing plant and home in the building back in the Forties.

“One of the reasons why we chose this location is its history,” said Marenzi, underscoring that establishing family homes in the proximity of manufacturing plants has been part of the Italian industrial culture.

Restructured in just a few months — with restyling works launched in August and the first offices occupied in January this year — the venue stands out for its symmetric façade and counts five floors, including a rooftop terrace and an auditorium in the basement.

Inside, the essential interior concept combining light wood elements, marble structures of the original design and glass walls is conceived to offer a modern and agile environment mixing separate offices for each association and common areas favoring synergies, communication and relaxing moments to the 100 employees.

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