Italian fashion industry back to growth in 2017
"According to our initial estimates for 2017, the textile and apparel sector in Italy as a whole is growing across all markets," said Claudio Marenzi, President of Pitti Immagine, at the presentation of the programme for menswear trade show Pitti Uomo. He also underlined the "recovery of [household] consumption in Italy, which for the first time in many years is on a positive track, growing 1.3%."
Another encouraging sign for made-in-Italy fashion was the surge in hiring in the textile and apparel industry, after several weak years. It rose by 1.1% in the first quarter 2017, by 0.9% in the second and by 0.3% in the third, according to figures published by Sistema Moda Italia (SMI), the Italian fashion industry's employers association.
In the first quarter 2017, the revenue for the industry increased by 2.8% compared to the same period a year earlier (+1.3% for textiles, +3.6% for apparel). The second quarter was even better, with a 3.8% increase (+1% for textiles, +6.7% for apparel), while there was something of a slow-down in the third quarter, with revenue increasing by only 0.4% (-1% for textiles, +1.2% for apparel).
As usual, Italian fashion industry sales were driven by exports, which grew 2.4% between January and July 2017, reaching €17.9 billion. Once more, the leading sector was knitwear, whose exports leaped 7.5% (+4.5% for home linen and +3% for tech textiles).
As for textile and apparel imports, they grew by 1.9% in the period, and were worth €12.3 billion. Altogether, Italian fashion recorded a trade surplus of nearly €5.6 billion, thanks to an extra €183 million on the positive side compared to the same period in 2016.
Europe was the main export market for Italian textiles and apparel, worth €9.9 billion (+1.7%), though Asia grew at a faster pace (+11.5% for China, +5% for South Korea). Germany still remains the top European outlet for Italian fashion, with a 10.2% share, its imports growing by 1% in the period.
It was followed by France, with a 9.5% share, though Italian exports to the country lost 1.3% between January and July, while they rose 5.7% in Spain and 13.4% in Russia. Sales to the USA, the second market after Europe for Italian textiles and fashion, lost 0.6% instead.
On the whole, the Italian fashion industry can afford to be optimistic, since in August exports were up again (+1% for textiles, +4.4% for apparel), according to figures published by the national institute of statistics, ISTAT.
"Our industry, in terms of output, accounts for over 35% of the entire European fashion industry. Italy is for fashion what Germany is for cars," said Claudio Marenzi. As recently observed in a survey published by Deutsche Bank, 26 of the top 100 luxury labels worldwide are Italian, and collectively they account for 16% of the group's total combined revenue.
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