Paola’s Predictions! Paola Guida On What’s In Store For Made In Italy Brands This Year & Beyond

by Freya Drohan

As Italian brands prepare to show at COTERIE and capture the US market’s hearts, the Daily checked in with the driving force behind the fashion and beauty division at the Italian Trade Commission, Paola Guida, to hear what she sees in her crystal ball for 2022!

How are you feeling ahead of the return to Coterie?
There is definitely a sense of cautious optimism! Obviously, everyone is obliging ongoing safety requirements, but there is still an energy coming from brands who haven’t been able to travel and contribute to the global growth of their companies in so long!

How are people keeping safety in mind when traveling from Italy to the US?
Italians have been extremely disciplined when it comes to precautions as our country was one of the hardest hit early on. After waiting so long to travel to the States, our brand partners are taking every safety precaution to ensure that they can get back to business.

What’s the uptake like this year?
Last season, the Italian Trade Agency sponsored 50 brands. This season the number has increased to 70, so we’re very excited about that!

Have brands changed how they approach their collections?
For many of the brands, COVID really accelerated how they embrace more seasonless collections, as they’ve been forced to move away from the more traditional separate Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter offerings.

In what other ways has the Italian mentality towards fashion changed?
I think the uncertainty from the pandemic pushed Italian designers to think more broadly about their collections to include items that have a longer lifespan and greater versatility.

In what ways is ITA supporting Italian brands?
The Italian Trade Agency is committed to facilitating in-person opportunities that give Italian designers and brand owners a chance to share their work with US retail buyers. And to do this most effectively, we take great care to gather digital assets and assist in promoting our Italian brands digitally through marketing partnerships, displays, press outreach, content creation, newsletters, and via social media. All of these channels work together and are necessary to get the attention of the best American retailers.


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What was growth like last year?
As of our most recent reports from September 2021, Italian exports in the fashion and beauty sectors to the USA were up more than 68% from 2020 and were on track to exceed even 2019. That’s an incredible turnaround and cause for much celebration. Clothing is up +33.4%, shoes are up 67.6%, and leather goods are up +78.6%!

What other positives have come out of the last two years?
We have a feeling of empowerment and resolve. Our brands have learned to navigate and work with new safety measures and they’ve learned how to mitigate logistics issues. These are Italian brands who produce their products in Italy using Italian materials. So they’re already set to be able to handle supply chain issues in a much more prepared way. Each brand has overcome so many obstacles and they’re more ready than ever to expand their businesses globally—especially to do business with American retailers.

Sustainability is always an important focus for the Italian fashion industry too!
There’s a change being heard around the world—shoppers want to buy fewer products, but quality products that will last a very long time. They want to support brands that are handmade, artisanal, family-owned, or produced ethically: storied brands with a soul and a conscience. Every one of our Made In Italy brands deliver on that promise.


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What other industry trends or shifts are you noticing right now?
There’s a need for a more utilitarian wardrobe: one that prioritizes comfort while enabling the wearer to do a lot of different things at once. We see a lot of knitwear brands flourishing, like those that offer tissue-like cashmere separates that are luxurious and don’t look like you’re wearing your pajamas all day, even if you are still working from home! We’re also seeing a lot more streetwear offerings, and ready to wear and accessories designed for a more urban lifestyle coming into the mix.

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