The results of Intesa Sanpaolo’s study effectively summarise diverse strongpoints of Italy’s fashion industry. A broad manufacturing base, the specific character of which lies in particular in its network organisation, which is typical of the country’s industrial districts: an organisation capable of preserving the skills, know-how and quality of Made in Italy fashion, whilst at the same time strongly diversifying production. It is interesting to note that around 70% of exports (equal to 51 billion euro in 2017) are accounted for by high fashion goods, which boast considerable shares of the global market, with such Italian goods representing 16% of all footwear, and 21% of leather-ware and leather goods, notwithstanding the strong competition from Asian market players.
The analysis of the GVC (Global Value Chain), performed on the basis of the WIOD (World Input-Output Database) tables, further confirms the unique structural features of the Italian fashion industry’s supply chain, which makes a contribution of 78.7% to the total nationwide (such contribution in France’s case, for example, is 60%, mainly due to manufacturing delocalisation driven by the large high-end companies): this is a considerable contribution to total production, and as such it underlines the industry’s strong ties with local allied industries.
However, there are still certain things that need working on, such as online fashion which will inevitably be the focus of greater attention and increased investment, given the growing importance of the digital market. In fact, in Europe over the last ten years, the online share of fashion-wear purchase has almost trebled (rising from 13% of total sales in 2008 to 37% in 2017), and Italy has ample margin for growth, particularly among SMEs which have yet to establish any real presence in the e-commerce system.
If, on the other hand, we look to the future, then according to Intesa Sanpaolo’s study findings, the total turnover of the Italian fashion industry is forecast to grow at an average annual rate of 1.5% during the 2019-2022 period, at constant prices, driven by increased exports (up from the current figure of 61% to 66% in 2022) and by increased domestic demand, and this will lead to a further increase in the trade balance, forecast to rise to around 25 billion euro by 2022. This further growth will be driven by the global demand for luxury goods, which is forecast to have grown by 42 billion euro by 2021 compared to 2016. The most important challenge will thus be that of intercepting this additional demand, mainly concentrated in emergent and distant markets (USA, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Japan and the United Arab Emirates), by taking full advantage of the Italian fashion industry’s considerable reputation which in recent years has enabled it to achieve a series of important goals.