Italian textile and fashion industry set to exceed revenue forecasts for 2017
The Italian textile and fashion industry, which last June forecast an annual revenue rise of 1.8%, has now revised the estimate upwards. According to figures published by Sistema Moda Italia (SMI), the Italian fashion and textile industry's employers association, in 2017 the total revenue for the entire industrial sector is estimated to have reached €54.1 billion, equivalent to a 2.4% increase over 2016. Growth in the first half of 2018 is forecast to exceed 2.5%.
“In the current market situation, it is hard to make a six-month forecast. More so than in the past, we are facing a stilted, highly variable rate of growth, with major trend reversals, on a week-by-week basis even. A type of scenario which will persist in the future,” said the new President of SMI, Marino Vago.
Another encouraging element for the textile and apparel industry in Italy is the rise in the number of new jobs, after several years of decline. The estimated increase is 0.1%, equivalent to 400 new hirings in 2017. This would bring the total number of employees to 400,000, while the number of companies is estimated to have fallen by 0.8% in the period, with 370 companies closing down, bringing the total to 46,236.
As always, exports are the Italian textile and fashion industry’s driving force. They are set to account for 56% of revenue, reaching €30.59 billion, equivalent to a 3.5% rise compared to the previous year (+4.5% for apparel, +1.7% for textiles). Imports on the other hand are estimated to have increased by 1.9%, to €21.08 billion. As a result, the Italian fashion and textile industry is expected to post a trade surplus, to the tune of €9.6 billion, €650 million more than in 2016.
The main markets for made-in-Italy fashion and textile products remain France - whose luxury brands source extensively in Italy - and Germany. Other countries offer better growth prospects however. For example, China, where Italian exports are estimated to post a 3.9% rise in 2017, thanks to the local economy’s recovery and Hong Kong’s new boom, and Russia, again one of the main destinations for Italian fashion after a three-year slump, with Italian exports to Russia reportedly leaping 10.9% in 2017.
“[Italy’s] menswear sales abroad recorded a strong increase, especially in Russia, where they grew an estimated 19.6% to €174.6 million, while women’s ready-to-wear exports to the same country rose an estimated 8.6% to €489.5 million. In China, Italian menswear exports skyrocketed, and are estimated to have risen 18.3% to €237.9 million, with womenswear exports to China up 3.8 %, to €302.6 million,” said Gianfranco Di Natale, the General Manager of SMI.
“[Italian] menswear keeps introducing quality products. Many young Russian men between the age of 25 and 35 have studied in Europe, and they travel extensively. They all like to wear Italian clothes. [Italian] menswear sells well in China, also in terms of semi-finished products, which are used locally by emerging Chinese designers. In some of Italy’s fashion schools, 50% of students are Chinese! This means they learn to appreciate our textile and fashion industry, with which they then forge strong connections,” he added.
Instead, the USA remain a difficult market for Italy. “Our business with the USA is on par with 2000, but we cannot grow there, and in 2017 our exports have lost an estimated 1.7%,” said Gianfranco Di Natale.
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