Interview with Ms Laura La Corte

Ms Laura La Corte
Ms Laura La Corte
Head, Consumer Goods – Fashion Accessories and Leisure Time
The Italian Trade Commission (ICE)
The Italian Trade Commission (ICE)

Well, that description brought me a royal aura around. I can sense the rich heritage woven to this industry! So, what is your stance on Italian textile and fashion industry’s performance these days?

The present world crisis has hit dramatically many Italian companies. Many were compelled to close, others have seen their sales and exports curtailed by 20, 30 and even 50 percent.

Paradoxically, however, this gloomy situation is a spur for many companies. They are compelled to improve not only their organization, but also the quality and value of their production. The strategy is to concentrate the energies on the development of the most successful and representative products of the brand, while going on with the research of new materials and new trends.

We may say that the companies must invest on their identity. And most Italian companies, in fact, think that the crisis may be seen as an opportunity to change and grow, by emphasizing the peculiarities of the Made in Italy: innovation, design, quality, service, communication, price, professionalism.

In other words, the crisis has made and is still making a sort of selection, helping the healthier and more solid companies to distinguish themselves, in order to cope with and get through the present difficulties.

That’s true; just as Ovid also quotes- Misfortunes often sharpen the genius. <br></br> Ms Corte, post quota phased out there was a lot of cries from European countries perceiving threat from textile dragon China. How do you find the situation now? Has globalization been a boon or woe to industry?

The Multi Fibre Arrangement was in force for three decades, from 1974 to 2004, and has expired nearly five years ago. This means that the companies had a long time to reorganize and adapt themselves to the new foreseeable international situation, characterized by strong and growing competition of China, and other more or less developing countries.

The problem is that many companies – mainly small companies – did not prepare sufficiently, if not at all. Needless to say, those who were caught unprepared suffered and are suffering strongly the slow-down recorded by the textile and fashion sector in the last years, and finally the world financial and economic crisis of 2008. In Italy many small companies closed down, and that is causing serious problems in some textile districts, with Prato in the front line. Thousands of people, in fact, have lost their jobs and have great difficulties in finding a new one in a district specialized in textile production since the Middle Ages.

On the other hand, the crisis is an incentive for companies to review their strategies – in terms of creation, production and marketing – in order to adapt to a new world outlook and compete at their best. From this point of view, the present crisis offers a great opportunity.

In any case, it’s necessary to be aware that the boom decades are over, and that all competitors on the world stage will have to adapt themeselves to this new situation.

Definitely; for, when one cannot change the direction of wind, Sails have to be adjusted! <br></br>Hereto, we also like to know what more can be counted as impediments in the desired growth of Italian textiles/fashion industry and the trade in it.

The global crisis of 2008 is also said to have changed, among other effects, the buying habits of the consumers, nearly at all levels. In other words, people now think twice before spending, and in any case tend to buy less. The golden age of unrestrained consumerism – if we may call it so – is over.

That means that people, even the rich and the well-to-do, will buy less. They will be more selective in terms of quality, and therefore will prefer to buy less articles, but of a better quality. If we talk in terms of quantitative growth, it’s good news for good companies, but it’s bad news for the marginal ones. I don’t deem it necessary to elaborate.

Published on: 09/11/2009

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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