Italian fashion industry exceeds its 2019 export level
"In 2021 we recovered two thirds of what we lost in 2020. It has been an important year which encourages us to believe that in 2022 we will return to our pre-pandemic level," said the president of the National Chamber of Italian Fashion (CNMI), Carlo Capasa, during the presentation of the program of the Milan Fashion Week in February. According to the latest estimates published for the first 11 months of 2021, the sector's turnover (including textiles, leather goods, clothing, footwear, jewelry, beauty and eyewear) is expected to reach 83.13 billion euros, up 20.9% over one year. But it is still slightly below its 2019 level (-0.8%), where it had reached 90.2 billion euros.
The Italian market, which slowed down during the summer after strong growth in the first and second quarters, rebounded in the fall, with a particularly dynamic November (+31.4%), as it benefited from one of the highest vaccine coverage rates in Europe.
The most concerning issue at the beginning of the year was inflation, although upon closer inspection it does not excessively affect the fashion sector in Italy. While prices of consumer goods rose by 3.9% over a year in December 2021, prices of fashion products rose by only 0.6% according to data from the Italian statistics institute Istat. Over the same period, production costs in the country jumped by 22.6%, but only by 3.2% for the fashion industry.
The most interesting results were those recorded internationally with, once again, a rebound in the fall after the summer deceleration, but more contained compared to the boom of the first half. Between January and the end of October 2021, Italian leather goods and clothing exports rose by 16.4% and 39.9% for jewelry, beauty and eyewear exports. According to forecasts conducted by the “Camera della Moda”, the transalpine export should reach 67.9 billion euros with an increase of 21% (+6.2% compared to 2019) for the whole of last year.
"We are up six points compared to before the pandemic, even though travel restrictions remain. We are strong in all countries, with double-digit growth in seven of our top ten markets," said Carlo Ferro, president of the Italian Trade Agency dedicated in supporting business developments abroad and promoting the attraction of foreign investments for Italian companies (ICE).
In the first 10 months of the year, made in Italy exports soared by 50.1% in China, 32.8% in the United States, 20.6% in France and 19.3% in South Korea. The United Kingdom remained an exception (-18.3%) due to Brexit, while the evolution of export growth in Japan remains unknown (+4.4%).
"Our products have made good progress in the closest markets, ensuring a more immediate and easy recovery, but also in those further away, such as the United States and Asia, which are more interesting long term as they have great potential for growth in terms of demand," continued Carlo Ferro, telling FashionNetwork.com that in order to promote the presence of Italian companies internationally, ICE has launched 19 new projects in the last three years and have been focusing more specifically on the digital sphere. “We have created 33 virtual showcases of products made in Italy on the main global marketplaces, from Amazon to Alibaba, which host 7,000 of our SMEs," he said.
Meanwhile, imports are down 1.7%, largely due to difficulties in logistics and supply from non-European countries (-10.8%), particularly from China (-35%). "It will be interesting in 2022 to measure how much this phenomenon of slowing imports also reflects a restructuration of international supply chains being in favor of the countries closest to Europe," noted the study.
This result of a positive balance of trade (an expected 34.4 billion euros for 2021) should reach and exceed the 2019 level, when it reached 32.2 billion euros. "This is important, because it also reflects a new trend of relocating production in the Peninsula," concluded Carlo Capasa.
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