13/03/2015 – Milano Unica — auf Deutsch lesen

Spirit of optimism

The 20th edition of the Milano Unica trade show celebrated its birthday and set its course for the future. The weather was rather miserable, but the mood at the show was the complete opposite. Right from the opening and through the entire three-day show, there was a noticeable spirit of optimism all around.

Collections tables and impressions oft he show Photos: Sachsenmaier

Collections tables and impressions oft he show Photos: Sachsenmaier

Milano Unica: Spirit of optimism
Show all images

“After seven difficult years, things are looking up again,” said Silvio Albini, president of Milano Unica (MU), who was able to provide the figures for 2014. Even during the crisis, the Italian wool industry was number one globally and was able to hold on to this position. In terms of exports in the overall textiles and clothing industry, Italy must now be content with second place – China is, and will likely remain, the leader in this regard.

However, in 2014, Italy’s textiles industry was able to increase its sales by more than three percent to over 8bn Euro– partially due to a 4.4 percent increase in domestic demand. At around 40 percent, the largest proportion of sales are in the wool industry. There has, however, been growth in all sectors, with the exception of “the long ailing cotton industry,” said Albini at the opening of the Milano Unica 20th ‘anniversary’ show, where the “crème de la crème” of the Italian textiles industry, as well as others, were in attendance. Among others, the usually publicity-averse Antoine Arnault (LVMH), who has been chairman of Loro Piana since 2013, took to the podium in the large hall at FieraMilanoCity and paid the representatives of the Italian fabrics industry a great compliment:

“The best craftsmen are in Italy”. Alongside representatives from politics, the audience also included Pier Luigi Loro Piana, Paolo Zegna and Franca Sozzani, editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia. With its high quality, proverbial imagination and flair for design, the Italian textiles industry is aiming to make further gains in the near future. “We Italians should always be one step ahead of others in terms of production,” Albini stated as a goal.

When he decided 10 years ago to combine five fabric shows, all boasting intense and interesting traditions, such as Idea Biella and Shirt Avenue, under the umbrella of Milano Unica, Albini knew he had done something right, he said during his anniversary speech. The success of this model is confirmed by the fact that the Shanghai edition of Milano Unica is now well under way and that Filo will be present for the first time this autumn. Additionally, he wants to form an even stronger team in the future, including the clothing and shoes sectors.

Soon there will even be a third location for Milano Unica: “Possibly in July we will be presenting our fabric collections in New York under the Milano Unica umbrella,” said the show’s president, not without pride. In these new challenges, the Italian textiles industry is spurred on by the support – both financial and ideological – of Matteo Renzi’s government.

It is more important than ever to raise awareness of ‘Made in Italy’ and its uniqueness throughout the world, stressed Carlo Calenda, Deputy Minister of Economic Development in Italy, at the opening of Milano Unica. This year, Rome is spending a lot of money on this – Milano Unica, among others, has received several million Euros from the state.

However, these payments are linked to very specific demands. Milano Unica, according to the Deputy Minister, must become the leading international trade show in its sector. The aim is to “beat the competing French trade show Première Vision”. In order to do this, they must reach a total of 1000 exhibitors, attract 20 percent of their visitors from abroad, and create synergies, including within the individual show locations in Milan, Rome and Florence. Filo must become the most influential yarn trade show at an international level, which is helped by its presence in Shanghai. In total, the government in Rome has made around 40m Euro available for the fashion industry.

The 20th edition of Milano Unica was clearly still a long way from reaching these lofty goals. Over the course of the three-day show, (only) 353 companies presented their fabric collections for Spring/Summer 2016, 64 of which travelled from other European countries, including Germany and Switzerland, and 34 came from Japan. The number of visitors was hardly record-breaking either. Nine percent fewer visitors wended their way to Milan from Italy, 29 percent fewer came from Russia, six percent fewer from Spain, and the number of visitors from Germany fell by 12 percent.

In contrast, visitor increases were posted from Japan (+29%), China (+13%), the United States (+10%), France (+12%) and the United Kingdom (+9%). However, the figures from last year have given the Italian textiles industry cause for hope. For the first time since 2009 – the “worst year of the crisis,” according to Albini– exports grew by 3.3 percent in 2014, amounting to 4.4bn Euro. Leading exports were knitted fabrics followed by wool, particularly in combed finishes. Over the last year, exports to the United States rose by 10 percent.

Despite sinking figures (-3.4%), Germany remained the most important European export market for Italy, which recorded only a slight decline of 1.9 percent in France, but suffered significant losses in Hong Kong (-11.9%) and China (-9.6%). In terms of imported fabrics, China and Turkey accounted for almost 50 percent. In Italy itself, industrial production has grown by 2.9 percent, which has also had a positive effect on employment figures, which have recorded only a slight decrease of one percent.

“We have become accustomed to keeping moving through stormy seas,” commented Albini last year. “We live in a world that is constantly changing, sometimes turbulently. And the consumer is also more confident and better informed.” The next edition of Milano Unica in Milan for Autumn/Winter 2016/2017 will take place from 8-10 September 2015 in the halls at FieroMilanoCity.

[Ingrid Sachsenmaier]