ASIAN BUYERS FLOCKING TO MILAN
MILAN — Buyers from the Far East descended in droves on Milan’s fashion shows this season. Some houses even said they were forced to turn away prospective buyers for want of space. “The future of Italian fashion is in Asia,” said Aldo Pinto, chairman of Krizia, who hired 40 Chinese models to show the collection last week. Asian buyers say the quality, creativity and wearability of Italian fashion cannot be matched. “Italy has the best fabrics in the world, and the fashion here is the most wearable — better than Paris and London,” said Jun Mohri, a buyer for the Japanese retailer Isetan. “The success of Italian fashion in Japan is unbelievable — even college students wear Italian designer clothes, shoes and handbags,” Mohri added.
Italian textile and apparel exports to Asia in the first 10 months of 1995 rose 28 percent from the year-earlier period to $3.75 billion. Exports to the region represent about 17.2 percent of Italy’s worldwide textile and apparel exports.
Italian fashion companies said the number of Asian buyers requesting tickets to their shows has been phenomenal. Trussardi, which does about 40 percent of its business in the Far East, reported a 45 percent increase in retailers from Asia at its show, and Moschino, which does about 10 percent of its business there, saw a 20 percent increase in Japanese buyers alone. Genny had 15 to 18 percent more buyers this year. A spokeswoman for Mila SchUn, which boosted its turnover in the Far East by 27 percent last season, said the house was flooded with ticket requests.
Anna Molinari, whose sales have risen 50 percent in Korea and 30 percent in Japan in the last year, was similarly besieged. “We’ve been present in these markets for a couple of years, but only recently have these countries gotten used to our collections,” a spokeswoman said. Companies like Max Mara, Ferragamo and Antonio Fusco said they too were inundated with requests from Asian buyers, but had to turn them down because of their already consolidated partnerships in the region.
The retailers say the future looks bright. “Korea and Hong Kong are big, growing markets for Italian fashion, and the next area to open up is China — I can’t wait for that,” said Peter Chen, who owns a chain of designer knitwear stores in Taiwan and China. “We think Italian people are so creative. They are world leaders in design.” A spokeswoman for Joyce of Hong Kong, one of Asia’s top retailers, said: “It’s no surprise that there are so many Asian buyers in Milan. The retail business in Asia is booming right now, and Asian people love that ‘Made in Italy’ label. To them it simply means great quality.”