The Italian fashion system in the post COVID-19 era

The Italian fashion system in the post COVID-19 era. Despite the pandemic, exports to China have ensured the Italian fashion system holds out. Green and digital challenges await an industry recovery

A note from the Intesa Sanpaolo Research Department reveals that the Italian fashion system is among the sectors most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overall, in the first eleven months of 2020, the turnover of the textile, clothing and leather industry marked -22% compared to the same period of the previous year (with fluctuations from -17% in the textile industry to -26% in the leather and jewellery industry).

Foreign markets also recorded widespread contractions in all sectors and to all the main destination markets (-22% of exports in the first ten months of 2020). However, the Italian fashion system was able to achieve a large trade surplus of approximately €15 billion in the first ten months of the year (€16.4 billion with eyewear).

The results on the Asian markets were significant: the balance for exports of clothing and leather goods to China in the period January-November was only slightly negative (-6%).

As far as the Fashion Districts are concerned, Textiles and Clothing and Leather Goods and Footwear of Arezzo managed to grow in the summer months, thanks to the leaps in exports to China, Knitwear and Clothing of Perugia also to the United States and Russia.

The levels of the third quarter 2020 of the Districts have remained very far from those of the previous year, showing a retreat of -13.9% for consumer goods (clothing, footwear, leather goods, knitwear) and -21.4% for intermediate goods (textiles, tanning). The choices of families to limit themselves to essential purchases, the collapse of tourism, as well as the spread of smart working that penalises the formal segment of clothing and footwear are all factors.

The challenges that await companies in the sector for the recovery are represented by the ability to offer consumers multi-channel experiences with continuous interrelationships between stores and online and attention to the issues of sustainability, transparency and environmental impact, protecting the know-how of human capital that has made the Italian fashion system competitive and unique.

Click here to download the report about the Italian fashion system in the post COVID-19 era (available in Italian only).