Italy fashion to exit crisis first: industry body

Tue Jan 12, 2010 9:59am EST
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FLORENCE, Italy (Reuters Life!) - Italy's fashion sector will emerge from the financial crisis before others but the government needs to help companies be more competitive, the head of an industry body said on Tuesday.

Italy's fashion industry called for government help last year as the global financial crisis sapped demand for its clothes, shoes and handbags.

Despite the crisis not yet being over, current sales are going well, said Michele Tronconi, head of Sistema Moda Italia (SMI), which represents the textile and clothing industry.

"In the last few months, there has been a change in pace, now there is a favorable context for various reasons," he told reporters at the Pitti Uomo menswear trade fair.

"The crisis is not yet over but (fashion) is a sector that was hit by the crisis first and it will come out of the crisis before others."

SMI said in November it expected turnover for the clothing and textile sector to fall 16 percent in 2009 to 45 billion euros ($65.32 billion).

Luxury groups are focusing on winning back consumers as they emerge from the economic crisis. Italians have braved cold weather to snap up discounted goods at their favorite designer or high-street fashion stores during the current winter sales period.

"Shop sales at this moment are going very well," Tronconi said.

He cited tax credits, the lowering of energy costs and a traceability system as helpful measures for the industry.

"From the last few meetings, I am confident something will be done soon," he said. (Reporting by Silvia Ognibene, writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian in Milan, editing by Paul Casciato)

($1=.6889 Euro)