Generally at this time of year buyers and press would be mid-show in a bustling Pitti Uomo in Florence, before heading to Milan for the first round of the men’s catwalk season. Pitti Uomo ends on Thursday, but its all-digital format means another menswear season goes by without a physical tradeshow, without the real-life connections between brands, vendors, buyers and media.
The COVID crisis has intensely shaped Italy’s fashion industry, with menswear likely to show serious declines in revenue over 2020 according to estimates prepared by the Confindustria Moda for Sistema Moda Italia.
Early signs in its report show a contraction of -18.6 percent as sales of tailoring, knitwear, shirting, ties and leather goods have all but collapsed. A failure in exports and slowing down of domestic consumption have seen even before robust brands like Brunello Cucinelli post losses over 2020.
A loss of two billion euros
According to the report the turnover shrunk to just under 8.3 billion euros, losing almost 2 billion euros in twelve months. In 2019, the men’s segment accounted for 18.1 percent of the Italian fashion and textile supply chain and 28 percent of clothing alone.
Production of menswear in 2020 fell by -19% compared to 2019, with exports down -16.7 percent. The overall level of foreign sales fell to approximately 5.9 billion euro. Italian imports fell -17.9 percent with the cumulative decline in foreign sales reaching -25.3 percent in the first six month.
In the summer, after the easing of restrictions of the first lockdown, the losses narrowed. From July to September the drop in exports registered at -3.8 percent while imports fell by -14.6 percent. In the nine months of 2020, men’s fashion fell across the border by -17.3 percent, rising to 4.6 billion (about one billion less than in the first 9 months of 2019) while the sector imports lost -19.4 percent, falling to 3.5 billion.
Analysis of international sales show Europe down -14.5 percent in terms of exports and -18.2 percent in imports; non-EU markets mark -19.2 percent in the case of exports and down -20.1 percent in imports. The first two markets, namely Switzerland and Germany, suffered the least losses of -6.2 percent and -9.2 percent respectively; France recorded -12.8 percent while the UK, U.S. and Spain all reached decreases over -20 percent.
The forecasts for the current year put all hopes for a recovery on Asia: “Given the current health emergency still widespread in large areas of the world, 2021 is still expected to rise for men’s fashion, which can benefit from the favour of Asian markets to restart,” said the report.