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Milan Fashion Week 25% bigger than last year

by Giulia Crivelli

Starting tomorrow, for six days, Milan will become the world capital of women's fashion for the 2016 spring-summer collections.

According to the newly-appointed head of event organizer and fashion trade group Camera della Moda, Carlo Capasa, fashion week comes at a good time and might represent a turning point after years in which Milan, squeezed by a global economic downturn, was hit harder than ever before by competition from New York and Paris—not to mention the historic difficulties of the business in general.

“There are more showroom presentations and 25% more events—170 versus 137—overall this year compared with the September 2014 shows,” he said. “But it's more than that. We've strengthened the array of sponsorships and signed key agreements with private institutions, both in the sector and out, starting with Unicredit, which besides becoming an official sponsor for the next four years, will help support young designers.”

Starting tomorrow, the Unicredit Pavilion will host the Fashion Hub Market, a pop-up showroom for 17 emerging brands. Support for new designers will come through the UniCredit Start Lab, an accelerator that pairs up new business with potential investors, and provides management advice to young designer-business people.

“In 2014, revenue of the Italian fashion industry, including textiles, clothing, leather and leather and fur and footwear, was over €61 billion euros, up 3% from 2013,” Capasa said. “An additional 7% jump is seen for 2015 to about €65 billion. It's an estimate that could change, but not by a lot, due to the slowdown in China and the Russian crisis. Half of the industry's total revenue comes directly from our members who make up 75% of the revenue of the entire fashion sector.”

With the goal of recovering pre-crisis trade relations with Russia, Capasa's group advocated another key agreement with Sistema Moda Italia (SMI), the Confindustira association that has a broader membership base, the Italian Trade Commission, and the Ministry of Economic Development.

Thanks to the Russia Special Project, financed with €1 million, more than 100 buyers from the Russian federation will arrive in Milan.

According to the latest data by SMI, textile and clothing exports to Russia fell 31.8% to €422.8 million in the first half of 2015.

But the leaders of SMI and the chairman of Camera della Moda see a reversal of the trend, likely starting in 2016.

Another new project, in collaboration with other associations in the sector and with the fashion expos at the Milan convention center, was the first ever fashion show by the Monte Napoleone Association. Italy's most deluxe shopping street held the event for MilanoUnica.

The office of Milan Mayor Giulano Pisapia and city councillor overseeing the fashion industry Cristina Tajani were a huge help in offering logistical support and making sites available.

But, compared with New York and Paris, there's still less of an economic commitment. In March, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo announced that from then through 2020 she would provide €57 million for the city's fashion business. In New York, state senator Carolyn Maloney unveiled special funds for the industry, which, in New York alone, generates $900 million dollars.

In February, Mayor Bill De Blasio had announced funding of $15 million for the sector.