ITALY’S FAIR ORGANIZERS GET LIFT AS WEAK LIRA BOOSTS EXPORTS HOPES

Byline: Kristin Schelter

MILAN — Italy’s trade fair organizers are looking to 1995 with confidence.
The potency of the U.S. dollar and German mark against the lira have convinced fair organizers that this will be a strong year for exports. Germany continues to be the number one export market for Italian women’s apparel, purchasing more than 28.3 percent of total women’s clothing exports.
In its first-half report for 1994, Moda Industria, Italy’s national apparel association, found that exports to the U.S. had increased by 32.2 percent. Exports to the Far East, especially Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea, skyrocketed more than 50 percent.
This growing interest in Italian goods is reflected in the increasing presence of foreigners at recent Italian trade fairs.
This year at Mipel, the leather accessories fair held here, the number of foreign visitors was up 49 percent. The greatest increase was in Americans and Japanese, closely followed by Koreans and Chinese from Singapore and Taiwan.
More foreign buyers are expected at the Pitti Immagine fairs.
“Our fairs are becoming more international,” said Raffaello Napoleone, general director of Pitti Immagine, the Florence-based organizer of the men’s wear, yarns, children’s wear and home textiles fairs. This international slant was felt at the last Micam/Shoestyle fair, in Bologna, where head organizer Fabrizio Poletti reported a 30 percent increase in foreign visitors, and was expecting to host even more foreign exhibitors.
Further bolstering optimism, after more than a year of recession, the Italian market is showing signs of recovery. The economic outlook is relatively positive at Moda Industria, which reports a 1 percent increase in internal orders for 1994’s first half.
Many fair organizers and exhibitors have noticed an improved relationship between price and quality in the Italian products, a trend they attributed to the increasingly competitive market.
Consumers are a lot more demanding as a result of the Italian recession, they say.
“They are more cautious and know how to evaluate price and quality, whether it be a fancy boutique or a department chain store,” commented Napoleone.
Italian fair organizers are trying harder to anticipate the needs of both exhibitors and buyers. The upcoming edition of Micam, the shoe fair held here, will incorporate Shoestyle, a previously independent show of exclusively mid-market footwear. Last season, the combined Micam and the Mipel leather goods fairs set the example.
Pitti Immagine is offering special hotel rates, a hospitality desk with travel agency services and transportation to and from Pisa airport.

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