ITALIAN FOCUS: Online store and e-magazine Storytalia was launched Thursday to promote Made In Italy products from small and medium-size companies. Thirty brands are expected to be up on the site in time for Christmas, 60 by summer. Backers hope it will increasingly grow to become a major marketplace for quality Italian makers screened by a committee. 

The first foreign market targeted for rollout is the U.K., to be followed by France, Germany and the rest of Europe. Entry into the U.S. will be assessed sometime next year.

The e-commerce portal is spearheaded by Paolo Zegna, chairman of luxury men’s wear and wool maker Ermenegildo Zegna Group. At a Milan presentation of the new portal, Zegna said the initiative began with the industrialists’ confederation Confindustria and is backed by a number of Italian fashion trade associations representing clothing, shoes, eyewear and cosmetics, as well as the Italian State and Unicredit bank.

Zegna added that Storytalia received seed capital of 1.5 million euros, or $1.9 million at current exchange rates, to last three years, by which time the site should reach break-even.

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