“As a Chamber of Commerce we are involved in supporting Italian companies on the Scandinavian market, promoting Made in Italy and advising Danish companies looking for collaborations, as is often the case in the fashion industry, for contract production or supplies,” says Luca Cavinato.

“Although Denmark is a very small country, we represent the first or second largest Chamber of Commerce in the world, with a staff of 22. We are the only Chamber of Commerce with two offices, one in Copenhagen and one in Rome. We also operate in the Scandinavian countries where there is no Italian Chamber of Commerce, namely Finland and Norway.

What is the situation of the fashion market, particularly for accessories, in the Scandinavian world?

From the post-war period onwards, the textile and fashion market in the Scandinavian countries has developed strongly, first locally and then internationally. Denmark, in particular, has many globally established brands and has played a key role in the fur industry (and fur accessories) for decades, a sector that has gradually entered a crisis over the last 10 years, until it was completely abandoned with the advent of the pandemic.

Over the years, a ‘Nordic style’ has also emerged and established itself internationally, which we find in various sectors – from design to fashion to the kitchen -, characterised by concepts such as functionality, simplicity, linearity, minimalism and attention to human and environmental health. Looking at the present day, in 2021 Denmark set two records for clothing and accessories, with exports worth over EUR 4 billion and total sales in Denmark of over EUR 6 billion. The consumption of clothing and accessories in Denmark has also increased. So have imports from Italy, which are growing gradually but steadily. The Danish market, like the Scandinavian markets in general, still remain – despite inflation and energy crises – traditionally high-spending markets with very low unemployment. Therefore excellent markets to turn to for Italian exports.

How has the situation changed since the advent of Covid?

Denmark is a country with little production lining, especially in the fashion sector, and high labour costs, which leads many brands to turn abroad for production, especially to the low-cost countries of the Far East (China, Vietnam, Bangladesh). With the advent of Covid, the closures in the Far East and the difficulties in transport, many Scandinavian brands have decided to bring part of their production ‘back home’, also in view of increasing market pressure regarding environmental and social sustainability issues. In fact, more than in the Scandinavian countries, much of the production is returning to Europe (particularly Turkey, Portugal, Italy, Germany), which represents a considerable opportunity for Italian companies, due to their ability to offer high quality products at competitive prices. This is a trend that first interested the big players and then also the medium-large brands. Covid has also accelerated the expansion of online sales, favoured by the fact that Denmark, and Scandinavia in general, is one of the most developed areas in the world in terms of logistics and road trade, with fast and safe deliveries, as well as a consumer protection policy that has undoubtedly favoured the development of e-commerce.

Are there any particularly relevant local players in online trade?

In Denmark we do not have Amazon, but there are several important local players, such as Boozt, which deals in clothing and household goods, and large chains or stores that also operate online such as Magasin du Nord, Selling, Ilum (owned by the LaRinascente Group).

What type of product is most sought after by buyers in Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway?

If I had to draw a red line encompassing all fashion products – from clothing to accessories, for men as well as women – this is definitely functionality, product reliability, sustainability, but also value for money and customisation. In particular, on the subject of functionality, it must be said that the Scandinavian consumer is much more informal than the Italian one. In general, there is a preference for a casual, minimalist, practical style, suitable for several occasions of the day and everyday life, and which takes into account climatic needs, characterised by ever-changing and rainy weather. Scandinavians also spend a lot of time outdoors, despite frequent rain, and clothing must allow them to feel comfortable at all times. ‘There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes’, they say in Denmark!

You have already mentioned the topic of sustainability, confirming how it is more felt in Northern Europe than in other parts of the world. Can you say something more about this?

Scandinavia has put sustainability at the centre of political and economic debate for decades, promoting a green culture for the protection of human health and the environment, but also interpreting it as a business opportunity for companies. Already in the 1980s, for example, it was in the vanguard for recycling plastic, glass, etc. With regard to the fashion sector specifically, several studies have shown that even in online trade the Scandinavian consumer rewards products that are sustainable and ethical, that take care of workers’ welfare, that do not exploit child labour, etc. Just as the organic theme has had an important development, also in fashion: organic and natural products, certified by labels such as the popular Nordic Swan Ecolabel.

Why does Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags represent an interesting business platform for Scandinavian buyers?

Made in Italy – understood in a global sense of fashion, design, cuisine – is very popular in Scandinavia and Scandinavian consumers appreciate the quality and craftsmanship of Italian fashion and accessories. Furthermore, Expo Riva Schuh is a platform with a strongly international character that offers, alongside Italian companies, many companies from abroad and the Far East. An aspect that certainly makes it very interesting for Scandinavian operators who, as I have already pointed out, carry out most of their production outside the country, where they find lower labour costs. Last but not least, Italy is the second most popular tourist destination for the Danes, and Lake Garda is one of the most popular.

Luca Cavinato