The Italian textiles trade is showing its first signs of recovery in six years, according to figures supplied by the Smi-Ati federation. Turnover for the Italian textile market rose 1.5% to just over €9 billion (£6.2bn) in 2006.
With this in mind, visitors to the fifth edition of textiles event Milano Unica may have expected a more positive vibe from exhibitors across its five trade shows, comprising tailoring show Idea Biella, shirting show Shirt Avenue, silk and fancies exhibition Idea Como, wool event Prato Expo and womenswear textiles show Moda In.
But recent currency fluctuations in the US dollar and the Japanese yen have seriously dented confidence in the Italian market, where exports represent two thirds of total production and where US and Japanese customers dominate what is essentially a premium-focused market.
Pier Luigi Loro Piana, owner of cashmere manufacturer Loro Piana, said: “For us, last autumn was quite successful and spring – which will be delivered in January – will be OK, but we are concerned about the future.
The value of the euro is too high and could hit us hard. Things had stabilised and the market had accepted that there was a European price and a Far Eastern price, but when that differential gets too high we are going to be in trouble. All this has a knock-on effect on confidence, which is bad for the industry. It makes people wary about investing in machinery, which is where we can keep our edge because it enables us to come up with the innovation that keeps us alive in the marketplace.
“We have tried to absorb some of the price rises, but the currency situation, together with the increase in the cost of raw materials, is accumulative and we cannot absorb everything. Seeing an end to the currency problems will be crucial for the Italian industry.”