"China and Italy: Two Tailors in a Global Market
14 Sep. 2012
BUILDING UP ITALY-CHINA RELATIONSHIPSA recent summit called "China and Italy: Two Tailors in a Global Market. New Challenges, Business and Partnership Opportunities" was held in Milan from September 7-8 and organized by the Class Editori publishing group, The Wall Street Journal and the Italian Fashion Chamber. Confronted with huge potential profit opportunities that the East and Western worlds can establish in terms of business and collaborations, Italian and Chinese authorities, entrepreneurs, designers and experts came together to participate in the event.
According to Paola Durante of Merrill Lynch, China represents about 10% of the world's consumption of luxury goods, a figure that might reach 20% by 2015. Today the haute de gamme sector represents about 11.4 billion with an increasing importance in Internet purchases, which will come to 2.63 billion by the end of 2013 and 4.6 billion by 2015. "Young Chinese technological and social networks are especially important," added Lavinia Biagiotti of the Biagiotti Group. "According to estimates, 65% look for information online before making a purchase, making it fundamental for a company to reach a high point of technological development before approaching the market."
Today in China there are over two million people with an average age of 39 whose net income is over one million USD. Italian entrepreneurs are conscious of the country's great potential, due to its 1.3 billion-person population and its middle class, which annually grows by 17% while its GDP grows by 7-8%. Ten years ago Italian luxury brands began to approach this market and have since expanded their penetration with sales now in 2nd and 3rd tier cities, after having started from 1st tier ones. Despite a general slowing in the consumption of luxury goods, sales still remain significantly high. There are many opportunities for small and medium-sized Italian enterprises, as underlined by Mario Boselli, President of the Italian Fashion Chamber, and Paolo Zegna, entrepreneur and vice-president of Confindustria. Both find it important that Italian companies participate in Chinese trade shows and vice versa. Zegna said: "I think in this moment it is essential to promote high-quality made in Italy products and not only big brands. To do so, it is important to support small to mid-sized companies and to participate in Chinese shows. We must see the Chinese people not only as potential consumers, but also as important partners."
Cleto Sacripanti, president of the Italian Association of Footwear Manufacturers (ANCI), went on to say that certain elements should be more strictly controlled by the Chinese government, such as the enforcement of laws to avoid the mushrooming of counterfeit practices. Custom taxes should also be lowered, as they are very high on goods entering the Chinese market and almost nonexistent when importing Chinese goods to Italy.
An example of special collaborations between Italy and China already exists. A video contribution presented by Italian designer Romeo Gigli showed his recently launched "Joyce by Romeo Gigli" collection. The Ne.Tiger (see photo) haute couture brand also presented its newest collection during a show held on the first night of the convention. Among Chinese brands, there were designer Ji Wenbo, who showed his menswear line at Milan Fashion Week 2007, and Diana Zhou Yan, president and founder of the high-end fashion brand Sunfed. She said in closing: "Chinese consumers have very rapidly become experts. They no longer consider the logo a fundamental element, but rather judge and buy according to how a collection makes them feel."
Maria Cristina Pavarini
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