Ivan Scalfarotto

MILAN — Turning Milan into “the place to be.”

That’s the ambition behind the memorandum of understanding signed Wednesday in Rome during a meeting of the Fashion Committee, held at the Ministry of Economic Development and presided over by Ivan Scalfarotto, the deputy minister of economic development, and attended by, among others, representatives of ICE and the Italian Trade Commission as well as by Carlo Capasa, president of the Camera Nazionale della Moda; Silvia Venturini Fendi; Raffaello Napoleone, chief executive officer of Pitti Immagine, and Massimiliano Bizzi, founder of White. The memorandum is meant to promote and develop the Italian fashion system around the world.

As per the agreement, starting next September all fashion trade fairs will take place during Milan Fashion Week and the city will organize cultural initiatives, concerts and exhibitions to emphasize the event, in a sort of international Expo. “We are thinking of attributing a specific name to define a precise identity to the event,” Scalfarotto told WWD.

“One of the reasons for visiting a city is to capture the spirit of the times, what is happening. We’d like for Milan to be the place where things happen, we have the ambition for Milan to become the place to be, with an articulated and cutting edge offer and attraction,” explained Scalfarotto.

The goal is for Milan Fashion Week to become the “week of Italian fashion,” he added.

The idea is to use Milan Fashion Week as the centerpiece of a focus on all the city’s trade shows in one week, from Micam and Mifur to White and Super, so that the country’s whole pipeline will be visible. “We will also have showcases. For example, we could present jewelry from Arezzo, or products that can’t rely on a trade fair,” said Scalfarotto. “We are also thinking of launching a costume jewelry fair, spinning it off from [Milan lifestyle show] Homi.”

Italy is known for having a complete pipeline in fashion, from yarns and leather to finished products, he said, and “we have a responsibility in having such an extraordinary wealth and we have not entirely developed it to its full potential.”

Asked whether Milan was prepared to accommodate such an event, Scalfarotto said “the city has a very diversified offer and an extraordinary ability to welcome visitors as seen with [the international 2015] Expo. It’s going through a Renaissance now. Milan is one of the most coveted destinations and is very competitive. We can leverage this attraction and this is a great opportunity for Milan. This is an unprecedented step.”

Scalfarotto said financial investments had not been determined. He noted that 60 million euros, or $66.6 million, had been allocated by the government as part of an extraordinary plan for 2015 and 2016 and that there will be a “refinancing” for 2017. “I am not ruling out specific investments for this event.”

The fashion sector represents 14 percent of Italy’s exports and grew 3 percent in 2015, remarked Scalfarotto.

The Italian government has been more attentive to the Italian fashion industry since the arrival on the scene of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in 2014. Renzi inaugurated Milan Fashion Week in February and September this year and pledged to continue to do so as long as he is leading the country.

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