Italy to announce a €20mn plan to boost textiles, fashion exports to US

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2015-07-21 16:10:00 – UK

Italy’s Vice minister of economic development, Carlo Calenda, to detail the Ministry of Economic Development's year-long plans to boost Italian exports to the US which will involve "trade shows, special events, incoming services and assistance in Italy and a major media campaign. Italy is said to be announcing a €20 million initiative to strengthen its relationship with the US regarding textiles, fashion and leather goods exports.

Italy will be rolling out media campaigns, promotional events, and partnerships with major US retailers, including Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom, in order to grab a greater share of the US consumer market, which for now anyway is the largest in the world.

The US market is the one with the biggest potential, Maurizio Forte, trade commissioner and executive director for the US of the Italian Trade Commission said. Not only is it the growth they are having now, but they’re seeing that it will be quite consistent in the next years.

Forte points out that, while Italian labels are already established on the coasts, in cities such as New York and Miami on the East Coast and Los Angeles on West, they aren’t as present elsewhere. In central parts of the country, they have tremendous space for growth, for example in Texas, Colorado, and Montana, just to mention some according to research they have done.

The move will be a major boost for the Made In Italy brand, which has been used since the Eighties to highlight the quality of the country's produce, as well as for the nation itself, which saw exports of clothing, textile, leather goods, cosmetics, eyewear, jewellery and skins rise significantly in 2014, contributing to a 4.5 per cent market share growth since 2013.

Italy is also eager to reach the burgeoning group of young consumers in the US. Millennials in the country earned a combined $1.1 trillion in post-tax income in 2013, according to Euromonitor, and about one-third of Americans are under the age of 25. These shoppers are keenly interested in where and how the products they buy are made. That tag on clothing that says “Made in Italy” already adds prestige (even if a growing number of

Italian products come from factories that are Chinese-owned and staffed), and Italy hopes to appeal to them with its tradition of craftsmanship and reputation for exceptional design.

The plan isn’t just intended to increase sales of established Italian brands, though. The most important goal, according to Forte, is introducing new labels to the US market.

They have a lot of medium and small brands with excellent products that are suitable for the American market. For them it’s not easy to approach retailers by themselves, so what they’re doing is a kind of outreach for them.

Those small-to-medium labels have a turnover of roughly $75 million to $110 million already, but need an extra bump to become global successes.

Currently the US is one of the largest buyers of Italy’s fashion exports, including clothes, footwear, leather goods, and jewelry, as well as textiles and leather hides. It has been trying to boost its fashion industry for some time, and with the dollar particularly strong against the euro these days, giving US consumers a little extra buying power, the time is right.

The country has been encouraged by its increasing exports to the US. In 2014, Italy exported 5.2 billion euros ( $5.6 billion) worth of fashion products to the US, an increase of 11 percent over the previous year. Italian manufacturers want to capitalize on this uptick as they hope to profit from the ever-influential youth culture since 34 percent of the US population of 315 million is under 25.

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