Byline: Luisa Zargani

MILAN — Fashion is one of Italy’s better-known exports, and entrepreneur Roberta Fares is hoping to use the Internet to make her mark there.
Fares has started the business-to-business Web site As a precaution, she’s registered the name with dot-com, dot-net and dot-it extensions, so that it’s easy to find inside Italy and out.
The site, which has been operating for about six weeks, took two years to set up, Fares said recently at a launch event. She’s been working with the e-commerce company Hypermedia Corporation in the U.S., studying the growth of e-tail since the early Nineties. “I really wanted a partner with me in this project,” said Fares. “The Internet should be a team effort, with a constant exchange of opinions and ideas, but it just didn’t happen. There is a generation gap here, and people are still suspicious of the Internet in Italy.”
Though Fares declined to reveal the sum invested in the initial launch, she said she will spend about $250,000 in communications next year.
“Being visible is a must with the Internet,” said Fares. “There will also be three or four banners at most on the site, because too many will slow down the system.”
Fares insisted on quick access, simple graphics and a schematic language. “In three pages, companies identify themselves with name, category, geographical area, market range and delivery time, and they choose eight photos to show the philosophy of their product,” said Fares, who described Italiamoda as a “container for all of the production cycle.”
Italiamoda is aimed at all sectors of the fashion system, ranging from machinery and suppliers to finished products. Fares said that Italiamoda offers them the technical means to set up a site, or a link if a site already exists. The yearly cost for companies to be part of Italiamoda is $1,250.
“Anything less than this would simply not make sense. I invest in communication for them and update their site as part of the service,” said Fares.
Italiamoda also offers a news section with information on services, events and trade fairs, covering all sectors of the industry, from jewelry and leather goods to home fabrics and textiles.
“Our goal is to be useful. This is a work tool,” said Fares.
According to Fares, when it comes to the Internet, fashion is lagging behind here. “Big buyers are in Canada and the U.S., but Italy is rich with small and medium-size companies that can expand through the Internet. This is where Italiamoda comes in, to help them set up their sites and be accessible globally.”

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