While Italy’s textile and apparel sector posted a record 17.7 percent increase in exports last year, totaling $24 billion (38 trillion lire), textile and apparel imports surged 27.4 percent in 1994 to $10 billion (16 trillion lire), primarily due to rising costs of primary materials.
But, according to preliminary 1994 statistics released by the national textile and apparel association, Federtessile, the trade balance in the sector was still a strong surplus at nearly $14 million (22 trillion lire), up 11.6 percent from 1993.
The home market remained depressed for Italy’s textile and apparel makers, however. Overall sales of the sector rose only 4.7 percent to $49 billion (78.5 trillion lire).
According to Alfredo Ciampini, secretary general of Federtessile, the jump in exports was due only in part to exchange rate factors, which currently make Italian products more competitive on foreign markets.
“There’s no denying that the weakness of the lira has given us a hand,” he admitted. “However, the manufacturers have used the benefits of the exchange rate correctly: they haven’t raised their prices, they have taken advantage of it to expand their market share.”

D&G, the new young line by dynamo design duo Dolce & Gabbana, has opened the doors of its first flagship boutique in Milan. Designed by Florentine architect Claudio Nardi, who does all of Dolce & Gabbana’s stores, the D&G store on Corso Venezia measures 9,180 square feet, of which about 5,000 square feet is dedicated to selling space. The store carries D&G men’s and women’s collections, as well as accessories. The entrance is dominated by two Art Deco columns, but the store mood is somewhere between the “flower power” of the Seventies, the soda fountain of the Fifties and the high tech of the Nineties. A wall of six television screens broadcasts Videomusic all day long, while a panel of mirrors treated with oil creates futuristic colored effects. The D&G store network is destined to grow. Plans are under way for another Italian shop in Rome later this year, while openings in New York, Paris and London are on the slate for 1996.

This highly successful accessories and luggage collection is moving out — and into apparel. Not content with its healthy $59 million (95 billion lire) sales in 1994, up 20 percent from the year before, Mandarina Duck is planning to launch an apparel line through a three-way joint venture with the Itochu Corporation, Japanese textile firm Tomorrowland and Mandarina Duck manufacturer Finduck. The new line of sportswear will be characterized by innovative and technical fabrics and practical, multiuse items that don’t necessarily follow the passing whims of the fashion world, a spokeswoman said. Research into new fabrics has already been started in Japan, while an international team of designers will be developing the new collection, which will be launched in Japan next year and in Europe in 1997. Volume for the new collection has been targeted at $100 million (160 billion lire).

Starting with the fall-winter ’95 collection to be presented in Milan this March, the Callaghan collection will have a new mind behind its new, body-hugging looks: 39-year-old English designer Scott Crolla.
Crolla, who is currently based in Paris, will replace Romeo Gigli, who has designed Callaghan since 1989. Callaghan is the brand name collection produced by the Novarra-based manufacturer Zamasport, which is owned by the Greppi family and also produces women’s collections for Gucci and Gigli.
“I’m very pleased with the opportunity to design Callaghan and the liberty they are giving me to express my own design views through the collection,” said Crolla in a recent interview.
Crolla, who recently has been working primarily for private clients, started in the business in 1981 with his own men’s wear line and store in London. He subsequently started a women’s line. He briefly lost control of the business that bore his name through a dispute with his financial backers, but has since regained legal rights over his name.