Italian labels aim for foreign buyers as Milan opens

Milan Fashion Week kicked off on Wednesday with celebrity-filled parties and dazzling displays as top brands look to sales in emerging markets to overcome a slump in Italy from Europe's debt crisis.

Seventy-three fashion houses are taking to the catwalks with their spring-summer 2012 collections this year and several leading names including Gucci are opening new hi-tech stores in Italy's main fashion hub.

But industry leaders say the sector faces a period of uncertainty.

"We have to respond with vigour and optimism to the situation of uncertainty that characterises the current economic juncture," said Mario Boselli, head of the National Chamber of Italian Fashion, which organises the event.

"The problem of Italy and of Europe as a whole is growth and since countries that are growing are now those that are far away, our maximum attention will be on promoting Made in Italy exports to the whole world," he said.

"The month of August was as bad as the one that came before that terrible September 2008" - the start of the global financial crisis, he said.

The Italian fashion sector had been banking on eight-percent growth this year but investor pressure has forced the forecast down to four percent - still a major improvement on the drop of 15 percent seen in 2009.

The show opens its doors with Gucci and Rocco Barocco on Wednesday, followed by Prada and D&G on Thursday, Versace and Moschino on Friday, Jil Sander on Saturday, Missoni on Sunday and Roberto Cavalli and Giorgio Armani on Monday.

A series of boutique openings in the city started off on Tuesday with an inauguration party attended by Naomi Campbell for tyre maker Pirelli - famous for its nude calendars - which is now launching itself into fashion.

Despite the glitzy openings and the buzz of fashion week, the main brands make no secret of the fact that they are mainly looking abroad for growth.

"This first half has been fantastic for our labels with foreign sales rising 30 or 40 percent, particularly in Asia, in Kazakhstan and in Russia," said one participant, Gaetano Marzotto, head of the textile group Marzotto.

Exports of Italian women's fashion were up 17.4 percent between January and May compared to the same period last year. While France and Germany remain the top export markets, Russia has now become the third largest buyer.

"In Italy, where consumption has lowered, sales have been supported by tourists. In the Milan fashion quarter, where the most prestigious brands are concentrated, 60 percent of purchases were by foreigners," Marzotto said.

He still noted a slowdown however in the past two months in sales even to foreign buyers "due to uncertainties linked to Europe's debt and a lack of clarity from the (Italian) government, which undermines consumer confidence."

Prada is one label that has made a successful switch to emerging markets.

The company listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange in June and announced a 74.2-percent jump in first-half profits this year, due mainly to Asian buyers.

Prada's sales in the Asia-Pacific region except Japan were up 35.4 percent - by far its sharpest rise in the world - and the group said that by 2013 it aims to have 550 stores worldwide, with around half of them in Asia.

Others like Missoni - with its "Missoni for Target" range for the US supermarket chain Target - have launched themselves into cut-price ventures and many have taken to the Internet with online boutiques to lure foreign buyers.

Giuseppe Angiolini, head of the association of Italian fashion buyers, said: "We can no longer think about fashion developing in Italy. In terms of sales, we are no longer number one. Our market has reached its ceiling."

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

    £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

    Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

    £23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

    Day In a Page

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...