According to the president of the National Chamber of Italian Fashion (CNMI), Carlo Capasa, the Italian fashion industry has successfully exceeded its export levels from 2019. Despite facing numerous obstacles brought on by the pandemic, the sector is projected to achieve a turnover of 83.13 billion euros for the first 11 months of 2021. This marks a significant 20.9% increase compared to the previous year. However, it falls slightly short of the 2019 level of 90.2 billion euros.

Despite experiencing a slowdown during the summer months, the Italian market regained momentum in the fall, with November witnessing an impressive growth rate of 31.4%. The country’s commendable vaccine coverage rates played a crucial role in this recovery. While inflation initially raised concerns at the start of the year, it had a minimal impact on the fashion sector in Italy. Consumer goods prices rose by 3.9% in December 2021, but fashion product prices only saw a marginal increase of 0.6%. Production costs in the country rose by 22.6%, whereas the fashion industry experienced a more modest uptick of 3.2%.

The most encouraging outcomes were witnessed in international markets. Following a sluggish summer period, Italian exports of leather goods and clothing increased by 16.4% between January and October 2021. Additionally, jewelry, beauty, and eyewear exports experienced an impressive growth rate of 39.9%. The “Camera della Moda” predicts that total Italian exports will reach 67.9 billion euros, representing a 21% increase compared to the previous year and a 6.2% increase compared to 2019. Notably, the top ten markets displayed robust performance, marked by double-digit growth in seven of them. Italian fashion exports to China soared by 50.1%, followed by 32.8% in the United States, 20.6% in France, and 19.3% in South Korea. Conversely, the United Kingdom witnessed an 18.3% decrease due to Brexit, while the growth rate in Japan remains uncertain.

Highlighting the significance of immediate and long-term growth opportunities in various markets, Carlo Ferro, president of the Italian Trade Agency, underscored the success of Italian products in both close markets and those further away, such as the United States and Asia. Over the past three years, the Italian Trade Agency has prioritized the promotion of Italian companies internationally and launched 19 new projects. Moreover, they have concentrated their efforts on the digital realm, creating 33 virtual showcases on global marketplaces like Amazon and Alibaba. These showcases encompass products from 7,000 Italian small and medium-sized enterprises.

On the other hand, imports have experienced a decline of 1.7% primarily due to logistical and supply challenges from non-European countries, notably China. This trend raises questions regarding potential restructurings of international supply chains, with a preference for countries closer to Europe. The positive trade balance for Italy is expected to surpass the 2019 level of 32.2 billion euros, reaching 34.4 billion euros for 2021. This development is particularly noteworthy as it implies a trend of shifting production to Italy.

Overall, the Italian fashion industry has demonstrated resilience and recovery in 2021, surpassing the export levels from 2019 despite the obstacles posed by the pandemic. With the upcoming Milan Fashion Week and persistent efforts to promote Italian brands globally, the industry is optimistic about regaining its pre-pandemic status in 2022.