Our third event of the online meeting series dedicated to the main Made in Italy industrial sectors highlighted how digitalisation and sustainability are the key to restarting the fashion and luxury business in Southern Italy.

2:45 min

Italian fashion is an important sector for on the Europe, contributing almost half of the added value of the euro area. It is a pillar of Italian manufacturing, accounting for around 9.3% of added value and 12.5% of employment.

In the fashion sector, Southern Italy plays a key role, since the sector contributes 3.1% to the economy of Puglia and 2.8% to that of Campania (0.3% for Basilicata and Calabria). Campania, in particular, occupies an important position in the Italian fashion sector, representing the third most important centre in the country for the number of active companies, with over 9,200 companies and a market share of 11%, overtaking Veneto (over 8,700 companies equal to 11%) and behind Tuscany (22%) and Lombardy (15%). The four regions together account for 60% of the companies operating in the overall Italian fashion sector.


In the southern regions, in addition to Campania, Puglia is another important fashion hub, with over 4,600 companies and a market share of 6% (in Calabria there are 1,082 companies in the sector, while in Basilicata there are over 320).

Given the centrality of the fashion sector for Southern Italy’s economy, in early June UniCredit virtually organised the Eastern Europe Forum "Fashion EXPerience" dedicated to the Fashion and Luxury sector as part of #italianEXPerience, a series of meetings organised online by the bank, dedicated to the main Made in Italy industrial sectors and enriched by "virtual trade-fairs" on the Digital Pavilion, a platform developed by the Group for remote B2B meetings.


The initiative, organised in collaboration with Unione Industriali di Napoli, opened with introductory remarks by Leandro Sansone, Head of Territorial Relations, CS & Claims Sud of UniCredit and Carlo Palmieri, Vice President of Unione Industriali Napoli.

The day continued with a B2B on UniCredit’s Digital Pavilion platform, a trues "virtual trade-fair" attended by 9 foreign buyers selected by Informest and coming from Baltic countries, Poland, Slovenia and Czech Republic and 50 sellers, Italian UniCredit customers. Thanks to about 70 individual "Business to Business" meetings, companies from Southern Italy had the opportunity to present their products and meet new potential customers in Eastern Europe.

The morning also saw the presentation of the agreement signed between UniCredit and Confindustria Campania to support the international growth of Campania businesses through digitalisation and the opportunities offered by e-commerce. This agreement provides particularly favourable conditions for member companies that sign a UniCredit Easy Pack contract, an e-commerce offer which, thanks to the bank's partnerships with Alibaba.com, Google, SACE and Var Group, consists of three solutions designed to provide simple, cost-effective and integrated access to online sales, both B2B and B2C, increasing your turnover and reaching buyers worldwide directly from your premises.

The Italian Fashion and Luxury sector – UniCredit’s study at a glance

During the day, Roberta Antinarella, Industry Expert at UniCredit, presented the UniCredit study on the effects of Covid-19 on the Italian fashion supply chain, with a focus on Southern Italy. The study shows how the high foreign vocation of the Italian fashion industry (75% of national production is destined to foreign markets), has been confronted with the negative impact of the lock-down on the main destination markets, so as the sharp drop in domestic consumption.

The pandemic has in fact put the sector under strain, with a joint shock on the supply and demand side, and also affected consumer and business confidence. By 2020, based on Cerved data, the sector is expected to lose around 21% of its pre-Covid turnover. In 2021, however, there we can expect a recovery with a growth rate that could range between +12% (base scenario) and +7% (worst case scenario).

The negative impact of Covid will be substantially homogeneous with the national average also for all companies in the southern regions. In particular, in 2021, Campania and Puglia are expected to grow by +15.9% (base scenario) or +9.1% (worst scenario) and +15% (base scenario) or +8.6% (worst scenario) respectively, with results above the country average.

In the post-pandemic period, digitalisation will be the key to restarting businesses in the Italian fashion sector. UniCredit’s study shows that the relaunch of the sector will therefore be linked to new consumer habits and the exponential growth of e-commerce, which is changing the reference scenario and the organisational and distribution models of companies, thus favouring an ever-greater integration between the physical and digital channels, with shops that, in addition to their traditional display functions, will also become distribution hubs for e-commerce. 

Shop will therefore need to be transformed from a place of transaction into a place of inspiration where, in addition to focusing on the high quality of the Made in Italy brand recognised worldwide, new strategies will need to be identified to involve the consumer, implementing new experiential engagement actions such as in-store events, art exhibitions, digital showrooms or the creation of VIP rooms and in-store restaurants/cafés, but also by enhancing 3D design which can amplify the sale channels for Italian fashion products.

The role of sustainability in corporate strategies will also be central. The pandemic has in fact increased consumer attention to sustainability issues. Since the start of the pandemic, 27% of Italian consumers have increased their purchases of sustainable and eco-friendly products and 21% from outlets promoting sustainable products. In the coming months," concludes UniCredit’s study, "for almost 1 Italian in 2 it will be important to buy clothes, footwear and accessories produced using methods that respect the environment and safeguard animal welfare”.