MILAN — The Italian Trade Agency, in collaboration with Confindustria — the main association representing manufacturing and service companies in Italy — will kick off its first fashion road show, called Inspr Italia Innovations in Style.
The first event will be held at the Los Angeles Market Week, running March 13 to 15, and will see the participation of 32 Italian designers of women’s contemporary fashion, accessories and shoe brands. The collections will be presented at the Los Angeles Brand Assembly Show in the Cooper Design space and at the Designers & Agents show in the New Mart.
The road show will then move to Miami, Dallas and Atlanta, bringing new Italian designers to regional U.S. markets via business-to-business appointments with retailers and buyers, with new artisans in each market.
The Italian government created a special plan for the promotion of the Made in Italy production and label and to attract investments in Italy. The goal is to expand the number of enterprises, particularly small and medium-sized ones, operating in the global market.
Choosing key fashion markets in the U.S. will allow brands to take advantage of the presence of buyers, press and influencers.
The project, in view of the complexity of the market, will have a broad scope and possibly a three-year outlook in order to achieve the expected results.
The U.S. region is of strategic relevance for Italian fashion manufacturers, representing the leading non-European Union market in terms of consumers of fashion products.
Italy is the fourth-largest supplier for U.S. imports in the fashion sector.
According to the agency, the U.S. imported $12.23 billion worth of products from Italy in 2022, up 12.5 percent over 2021, exceeding the value registered in 2019, which was $9 billion, by more than 30 percent.
Italy, with a market share of nearly 5 percent, has climbed back up by four positions over 2020, moving to fourth from eighth among the major supplier countries to the U.S., after China (17.8 percent), Vietnam (13.4 percent) and India (69.6 percent).
In 2022, the following five products accounted for 85 percent of Italian fashion exports to the U.S.: footwear (17.5 percent of the total); apparel (14 percent); goldsmithing/jewelry (25 percent); leather goods (18 percent), and eyewear (12.2 percent).
“It is important to us that the U.S. market can see firsthand the spirit and the depth of products created and produced in Italy,” said Antonino Laspina, Italian Trade commissioner and executive director for the USA ICE Offices. “We want everyone to be inspired by Italy’s love of creation, craftsmanship, artisanal tradition and heritage.”
Designers who will be showcased in Los Angeles at Brand Assembly are: Antura Accessori, Athison, Dezen Dezen, Ducanero, Fracap, Giovanna Nicolai, Karma of Charme, Laboratorio Mariucci, L’Aura borse, Mimi et Mama, Ploumanc!h, Sesa Shoes, Shaft Jeans, Shoto and Spektre. Designers showing at the Designers & Agents show are: Alienina, Alysi, Anthemis, Bsbee, Elom, Etici, Halmanera, Henry Beguelin, Lavi Couture, Moma Shoes, Momomi, Ofhandmade, Pomandere, Suprema, Transit par Such, Voile Blanche and Whyci Milano.
Here, Laspina elaborates on the initiatives and the reasoning behind the projects that will be supported by ITA in the U.S.
WWD: Clearly, ITA still firmly believes in the importance of trade shows, but how are they chosen and where does the agency decide to invest?
Antonino Laspina: Specialized trade shows in Italy and outside the country are entirely part of ITA’s promotional strategies and are an indispensable step for the small and medium-sized companies that want to enter or consolidate their presence in the U.S.
Naturally, over the years the approach to the fairs and the initiatives has changed. In order to provide a return on investment, trade shows must have a strong identity in a specific sector, be highly specialized and especially must be for us at ICE an opportunity to sensationalize and add glamour to the products exhibited.
A rigorous organization in logistics and communication must accompany a strong business-oriented structure.
In fashion this is indispensable and the best results are obtained if the organizers work with the exhibitors as partners and not merely as suppliers of services.
Accordingly, among the many events that are organized, once the need for a promotional intervention is verified, the choice falls on those that allow the Italian contingent to have strong visibility, a strong identity, a distinctive and free communication, enhancing the Italian peculiarities. The fairs we choose are those that allow us to make plans and set growth objectives at least in the medium-term.
WWD: What characteristics must the companies that you support have?
A.L.: It is clear that the ambitious and rigorous criteria applied to choose the trade shows are complementary to equally rigorous criteria in choosing the companies that will be part of the Italian contingent.
Over the years, these criteria have been fine-tuned and today, in addition to stringent criteria of participation, at times we collaborate with experts in specific sectors to evaluate and optimize the quality of the Italian offer in a trade show.
In many cases we define ways to approach a market through training courses on marketing, operations and logistics — also remotely.
The effort is decisively to bring the best Italian production to buyers and operators in the American market.
WWD: After the pandemic, some fashion executives believe that the trend with consumers is to increasingly seek quality and timeless products. Do you reckon that Made in Italy can take advantage of this situation?
A.L.: After the pandemic and in the “new normal,” new values have emerged and are consolidating, which will drive consumers in the next years, not only in the U.S.
We hear of an increasingly strong and growing interest of consumers for quality goods, for products destined to last in time, products as experience. In this, our system is probably the most well-equipped.
Our companies, at times as a strategic choice, at times led by contingent reasons and quick changes in the market, have learned to cultivate quality. Quality is surely one strength of our company, which are also involved in issues such as sustainability, circular economy, reuse, low-energy production cycles and limited environmental impact. We are surely ahead of traditional competitors and also compared to emerging ones. Probably we are slightly late in fine-tuning our storytelling, which would allows us to best communicate with the market on these issues.
WWD: What kind of financial investments have you made on the latest initiatives?
A.L.: Over the past few years the promotional investments in the textile, fashion and footwear sectors for the American market have been growing and for 2023 the total sum is expected to reach $6 million.
This sum allows us to give the necessary continuity and strength to the projects that we have started in the last two years and to kick off projects in regard to new territories in the U.S. and in new operations.
In addition to more trade shows and tours in Italy with U.S. operators to specialized fairs and seminars — both online and IRL — this year we will hold the road show in collaboration with Confindustria. This will bring a qualified group of companies in areas of the U.S. where we have done little or nothing before, but where today the economy is creating the conditions for a strong growth of made in Italy products. Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta and Miami are target areas for 2023, as we are aware that we can find new distributors, buyers and consumers in those cities.