MILAN — Exports continue to boost Italy’s textile and fashion industry, which is turning to the U.S. to help offset a decrease in the Russian market.
In 2014, industry sales were up 3.3 percent to 52.4 billion euros, or $69.7 billion at average exchange, and exports climbed 3.9 percent to 28.5 billion euros, or $38 billion. According to textile and fashion association Sistema Moda Italia, sell-out figures in Italy dropped 3 percent, while “apparent spending” rose 2.5 percent. “This refers to business-to-business demand,” explained president Claudio Marenzi, of the figure.
After losing almost 96,000 jobs in the industry in the 2008 to 2013 period, the rate of job losses decelerated in 2014, with a 0.3 percent drop, or 1,200 employees. Last year, 780 companies closed down.
According to SMI, in the first half of 2015, textile and fashion sales are expected to grow 2.8 percent: the textile industry is forecast to gain 2.5 percent and fashion is expected to grow 2.9 percent.
In the first six months of the year, exports are forecast to grow 3.3 percent, slightly down compared to a 4.3 percent increase in the first half of 2014.
“Over 2015, the European Union is expected to continue to grow, as well as China,” Marenzi said. Significant demand is seen coming from the U.S., and an “even bigger growth” is expected in 2015. Marenzi said that, between 2015 and 2016, there “will be a big promotion of Made in Italy” in the U.S. in collaboration with a department store. He declined to name the retailer as negotiations are still going on.
In 2015, Japan will be stable, while it will take at least two years for Russia to exit its economic crisis. In 2013, exports of textiles and fashion to Russia totaled almost 1.5 billion euros, or $2 billion, up 4.4 percent compared with 2012. In the first 11 months of 2014, exports to the area decreased 12.2 percent.
Marenzi underscored that Russians “are very loyal to Made in Italy labels.” Establishing a stable ruble is now the country’s main concern, he added.
Given the sociopolitical issues today and the crisis in Russia, among other issues, the “flexibility that characterizes the companies in the industry, their speed and skills in setting changes in motion, will once again be a crucial success factor that will be able to guarantee growth in 2015,” he noted.
Marenzi urged cooperation between the country’s leading trade fairs, citing examples such as Chic, Unica and Micam banding together for an exhibition in Shanghai. One of the main goals going forward is to add eyewear and jewelry to ready-to-wear, textiles and shoe fairs.