HELP THE ITALIAN ECONOMY IN 2014
All eyes are on the United States in 2014 to bring Italy's flagging fashion business up to a point where designers can get excited again.
According to many of Italy's fashion houses, 2013 was a roller-coaster year for the fashion business, yet one with encouraging signs. With Italy bogged down by a stagnant economy, it's no wonder that "l'estero" (outside Italy) is a better option for growth.
Laments Umberto Angeloni with Italian suit maker Caruso, "The main obstacles are the same; Italy's clammy bureaucracy, high cost of work and energy, fiscal pressure and negative image of the country. There are favorable trends because of a mature, affluent consumer that recognizes the excellence of Italian manufacturing and design."
While Italian fashion houses have enjoyed immense growth in Asia and China the past few years, that area has recently seen a dramatic slump. The optimism for the American market in 2014 lies in a number of areas but namely two major ones; the resurgence of the American economy and a younger audience who are rediscovering dressing up.
It's not unusual to visit some of the new upscale restaurants along West 25th St. or Tremont and notice that many of the thirty-something patrons are sporting jackets or even the odd suit or two. It's a trend that has gained momentum among young guns who are tired of looking grungy. It's a throwback to the 60's, a time when looking good was important and necessary not only in the workplace, but also socially where networking is key.
So, I hear it every day, "Nobody gets dressed up anymore!" Rubbish!
Being on the retail end, I get a very different perspective. Young people are getting dressed up again and are hungry to learn about clothing. How do I fold a pocket square? Full Windsor knot or half Windsor? Can I wear stripes and checks together? Do I wear brown or black shoes?
The main problem with the American clothing market a few years ago was that clothing for everyday life was so retro and at least two years behind Europe. Now thanks to social media or lifestyle fashion channels such as How I Rock It or Best Bars in America on the Esquire Network, men are rediscovering that it's cool and sophisticated to be dressed up. What is not cool is to order a $15 drink in your old jeans and a hoodie.
So get with the program and do yourself some good. Help out your Italian cousins and refresh your wardrobe this Spring.
Each month we bring you short insights into Italian fashion leaders, style and vogue as it relates to today's world. The rich culture passed down by Italian designers throughout the centuries reveals how clothing affects everything in our everyday lives from our moods, to status perception, to careers and even attracting a mate. www.davidecotugno.com