Italy’s fashion sector shadowed by coronavirus, long-term prospects still good


Commercial activity in the economically vibrant northern part of Italy has slowed amid the outbreak of coronavirus, but its fashion industry has confidence that it’s resilient enough to weather the fluctuation brought by the epidemic.

Italy’s 66,000 fashion houses have kept working — slowly, given the current circumstances — on their Fall and Winter 2020-2021 collections although the economic prospects for the spring and summer remain uncertain.

Offices and production facilities across the country have been shuttered because of the coronavirus outbreak, which is expected to act as a significant drag on Italy’s economic growth.

Fashion Week in Milan, the twice-per-year extravaganza held to promote the fashion houses, took place last month when the epidemic in Italy was mushrooming, cutting into the effectiveness of the event. Many of the events were live-streamed online to prevent visitors from gathering.

“In the near term, the worries for the Italian fashion industry are for design and production,” Nicola Guerini, managing director of the Milan Fashion Institute, told Xinhua.

“But in the medium term, we’re worried about demand. We are expecting to see a drop-off in demand from China, which accounts for around 40 percent of the fashion sector’s sales,” he added.

Guerini said the expected economic slowdown in Italy and in other important markets will take a toll.

“I don’t think it will be a lost year for the Italian fashion houses as some analysts have stated,” he said. “But I do think it will be the most challenging year we have seen in many years.”

Guerini called on the government to direct aid to fashion companies which accounted for nearly 96 billion euros (108 billion U.S. dollars) in revenue and employed some 600,000 workers.

“Clothing and fashion are a major economic sector in Italy and it would do better with help,” he added.

Vincenzo Trione, creator of a course on Fashion and Creative Industries at IULM University in Milan, where he is dean of the Faculty of Arts, Tourism and Markets, said the fashion industry in Italy is likely strong enough to weather what he called the “tsunami” brought by the coronavirus outbreak in Italy and elsewhere.

“We still can’t understand the full impacts of the coronavirus outbreaks, but we know it won’t be easy for the fashion sector or any other sector,” Trione said.

“We also know that the fashion sector has tremendous resilience and that it offers products all along the spectrum from luxury goods to the kind of clothes people use every day. Adjustments will be made, and companies will benefit from them. Over the long-haul, the fashion sector will be fine,” he said. Enditem


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