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How the Italian menswear sector has fared as Pitti Uomo kicks off the buying season

By Isabella Naef


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Dior Men x Stone Island capsule collection Credits: Dior Men x Stone Island shot by Ethan Hart

Pitti Uomo, the Italian menswear trade show that kicks off the buying season, opens the doors of its 106th edition in Florence today.

Here, nearly 800 menswear brands are set to present their collections for spring/summer 2025, 44 percent of which will descend from abroad. Among the special events are shows by guest designer Marine Serre and British returnee Paul Smith, who will be kicking off the trade show with a runway at Villa Favard.

Aside from the slew of planned events and the hefty schedule, FashionUnited takes a deep dive into the figures of Italian menswear.

From Tuesday, June 11, menswear takes centre stage at Pitti Uomo

Italian menswear (an aggregate that includes knitwear, outerwear, shirts, ties, and leather goods) closed 2023 with a +4.7 percent increase in turnover, recording a more moderate variation than in recent years. According to a note published by the Sistema Moda Italia (SMI), this amounted to 11.9 billion euros, contributing 18.5 percent to the overarching Italian textile-clothing sector.

These were the figures released by Pitti Immagine on the eve of Pitti Uomo, the trade show that opens today and will run until June 14. Forecasts made during the last edition of the fair, in January 2024, had estimated a turnover increase of +4.9 percent for the region’s menswear sector, thus predictions were now almost confirmed.

Individual micro-categories had also closed 2023 with positive changes, with the exception of leather goods, which recorded a -0.6 percent decrease. Ties saw the highest growth of +7.6 percent, followed by shirts which welcomed a +7.4 percent recovery.

The value of production (an estimation of the value of the production activity carried out in Italy, net of the marketing of imported products) increased by +3.3 percent at the end of 2023.

Exports remain the driving force of Italian menswear

When it came to foreign trade, exports maintained their leading role for Italian menswear, representing 74.5 percent of turnover. On an annual basis, exports in the sector recorded a positive change of +6.6 percent, exceeding 8.8 billion euros. Imports, on the other hand, contracted by 2.3 percent to around 5.6 billion euros.

Given the aforementioned dynamics of exports and imports, in 2023 the sector recorded an increase in the trade balance, rising 3.2 billion euros.

In regards to the Italian market, trends remained positive, but the values were still far from those recorded before the pandemic. For the calendar year 2023, purchases of menswear by resident households recorded a slight increase compared to the previous year (+0.4 percent), with SMI’s surveys indicating a slowdown in the pace of growth.

Ready-to-wear, meanwhile, represented 55.4 percent of menswear sales, making it the predominant segment, followed by knitwear with a 26.1 percent share. Shirts accounted for 16.5 percent of the menswear market, followed by ties (1.2 percent) and leather garments (0.8 percent), each holding smaller shares.

Looking at the performance by season, spending on menswear for spring/summer 2023 saw a -1.1 percent decrease. This result is mainly due to the negative trend recorded by knitwear and shirts, important sectors for menswear: the former seeing a -1.9 percent decrease and the latter -4.2 percent.

Chain stores dominate domestic market

In terms of distribution channels (the data, being available by season, referring to the period from March 2023 to February 2024), the domestic menswear market remained dominated by chains, whose share stood at 47.4 percent (+1.0 percentage points compared to the corresponding period 2022-23); despite having recorded a -1.1 percent decrease in value.

Large-scale retail trade, with a -2.9 percent decrease, remained in second position (22.2 percent share), meanwhile. Among the categories that make up this sector, food recorded the greatest decrease (-10.6 percent).

Independent retail continued to lose ground, falling by 7.5 percent to 17.8 percent. E-commerce, after growing by +7.1 percent in 2022, also returned to negative territory and contracted by -4.6 percent, bringing its share to 8.7 percent.

Over the period, the two other physical retail categories, namely street vendors and outlets, which each hold around 1.7 percent of Italian menswear sales, further recorded a negative trend: the former lost -9.1 percent, while the latter lost -4.7 percent.

The year 2023 saw a decline overall, as anticipated in the commentary on the sectoral balance (from which junior products are excluded). ISTAT data indicated that exports for the period January to December 2023 increased by +6.5 percent compared to 2022, totaling around 9.5 billion euros, while imports decreased by -2.6 percent, falling to 6.9 billion euros.

As for the sales outlets, it should be noted that both the EU and non-EU areas proved favourable to the sector, with growth of +7.2 percent and +6 percent, respectively. The EU market covers 45.7 percent of the sector's total exports, while non-EU countries are the largest “buyers”, with 54.3 percent.

Similarly, in relation to imports, the EU accounts for 48.2 percent of menswear entering our country, while non-EU countries account for 51.8 percent, despite a 13.8 percent loss compared to the previous year. France was the first destination for Italian-made menswear during the period, with sales increasing by 16.8 percent to reach 1.2 billion euros, or 12.2 percent of the industry total.

This article originally appeared on FashionUnited.IT. Translation and edit by: Rachel Douglass.

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