Abstract: The Export Performance of the Italian Fashion System in the EU Context, Post-World War II Years (1970-2007)

Valerie Pinchera


This paper presents a preliminary investigation into the long-term, post-World War II patterns of the Italian fashion industry's export performance. Although the fashion industry is considered a sunset industry in developed economies, it still maintains a significant presence in world trade as well as within the European Union in terms of employment and firms, contributing to GDP and exports. The Italian fashion industry is the biggest producer and exporter in each of the three sectors comprising the European fashion industry: textiles, clothing, and leather. During the past twenty years important changes in the worldwide trade's structure have affected the Italian fashion export's international leadership and trends. Despite the decline and the elimination of import quotas in the textiles and clothing sectors in 2005, Italian fashion firms have achieved a stronger position in international markets over the last ten years. Despite various studies on the recent changes in the worldwide trade due to globalization and the trade liberalization process, there are very few academic analyses of fashion industries in their entirety. Through its analysis of the trade data (Eurostat, UN Comtrade, WTO), this paper attempts to outline the different developments and patterns of the Italian fashion industry's export performance from 1970 to the last decade. The aim is to explore the impact of these international trade changes on the Italian fashion industries as well as within the European context.