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)

The Italian Trade Commission (ICE) promotes, facilitates and develops commerce between Italy and the rest of the world, assisting the internationalisation of Italian companies and their taking root in foreign markets; it also promotes incoming and outgoing investments. ICE’s activities are financed by State funds through the Ministry of Economic Development and partly by profits coming from its promotion, assistance and information services to firms. The Institute, headquartered in Rome, has 17 offices in Italy and an overseas network of 116 offices in 88 countries. Fourteen of these offices abroad have special sections dedicated to Italian firms who intend to protect their intellectual property. Born in 1953, graduated in 1976 at the Faculty of Modern Literature – specialization in Foreign Languages and Literatures – at La Sapienza University in Rome, Ms Laura La Corte is the Head of Consumer Goods Division – Fashion Accessories and Leisure Time, ICE. After working for a multi-national company from 1977-1981, in 1981 she entered the ICE’s managerial career and was assigned first to the Information Department and then to the Economic Studies Department of the headquarters in Rome. From 1989 – 1994, she has worked in Spain, at the Barcelona office, gaining experience in promotional activities, marketing, information and assistance to the companies. Back in Rome, Ms Corte has directed offices of the Administration Department (1994 - 2000) and of the Personnel Department (2000-2002). She was promoted to the rank of Director in September 2000, and from October 2002, she is in charge of the Consumer Goods Division - Fashion Accessories and Leisure Time of the Promotion Department, and coordinates the promotion abroad of most part of “Made in Italy” (i.e. textiles and apparel, footwear, leatherware, goldsmithery and jewellery, eyewear, cosmetics, sports items etc, but also publishing industry, audiovisual, musical instruments, image and communication of Italian cinema). In a colloquy with Face2Face team, Ms Laura La Corte details on current challenges and trade in Italian apparel as well as fashion industry.

Ms Corte, Face2Face feels pleasure to host you on this talk ! Shall we begin with a word from you on the significance that apparel and fashion industry enjoys in the country?

Italy, after China, is the second world exporter of textile-apparel products. In the domestic panorama, and even in presence of new economic realities, the industry continues to account for 7.3% of the industrial value added and for 7.8% of exports of the manufacturing sector.

According to SMI – Sistema Moda Italia, the sectorial industrialists association, in 2008 the total turnover of the industry amounted to some 52.5 billion euro, with a 3.1% decrease in 2007, due mainly to the textile segment – yarns and fabrics – while garment production has substantially maintained its positions. In any case, despite the crisis, the Italian textile-apparel industry remains one of the pillars of Italian economy and of the Italian image in the world.

The appeal of Made in Italy in the world goes well beyond the fashion. But textiles and fashion are only part –an important one, but still only a part – of the Italian way of life. Not by chance, some years ago ICE – the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade, known abroad as Italian Trade Commission – created the logo “Italia - Life in I Style” to launch a campaign to promote the fashion sector in many countries: to mark and underline the specificity of the Italian way of life.

What are the components of the Italian style? History, nature, people, climate, food, art… Living in a country that owns about half of the world’s cultural and artistic heritage surely helps. Italians are born and live surrounded by beauty. So it is not surprising that the average national taste – for apparel, food, furnishing, interior design etc. – is quite good. And that is reflected in the Italian products.

The importance of textile and fashion in the Italian history may be easily seen in the major museums of the world. You can admire the portraits of great personages of Italian history, wonderfully clad in sumptuous clothes designed by stylists of their times, whose names are mostly forgotten or literally unknown – but with exceptions: Michelangelo, for instance, is credited by someone with the design of the Pope’s Swiss Guard uniforms, still in use.

In most cases – textiles and apparel products among them – the present industrial production is the modern development of centuries of skilled craftmanship. And the talents of the past still live in the present Italian industrial districts: so you find fashionable, comfortable and very up-to-date footwear in Marche, or wonderful knitwear in Umbria and Emilia-Romagna; or jewelry and goldsmithery in Piedmont, Tuscany and Veneto. And while the apparel production is scattered in many regions of Italy, there is a huge concentration of outwear, sportswear and kids’ apparel in Veneto.

To finish with the textiles: the Biella, Como, Prato and Vicenza districts – to name the most important and old ones – are very well-known by the professionals of the fashion industry in all countries as suppliers of very good fabrics, may be the best in the world. It’s a tradition that lives on. As it’s shown by a great exhibition at the Prato Textile Museum, open until January 2010, which illustrates the history of Italian and Russian art, textiles, and fashion between the 14th and the 18th century, and explains that the czars of ancient Moscovia and early Russia used Italian fabrics for their clothes.

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

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