The Confindustria Moda Study Centre (SMI) makes the usual ‘still image’ of the men’s fashion sector in the past year, which shows an Italy that is certainly in clear recovery compared to the period of the pandemic, but still with shaded areas and changing reference export markets. The data provided by ISTAT, in fact, shows that Italian exports in 2021 increased (+13.4%), for a total of about 7.2 billion euro, with a positive trend for imports, which reached 4.9 billion euro (+8.2%). Despite the favourable performance compared to 2020, men’s fashion did not manage to bridge the gap with pre-pandemic levels, with exports lower by -5.3% compared to 2019.

The first destination of made in Italy menswear was Switzerland, up by +15.1%, thus confirming itself as a strategic logistic-commercial hub for the main brands in the sector; in fact, it absorbs 12.2% of the sector exports. Germany with 11.2% (+21.1%) and France with 10.7% (+22.6%) follow. It should be emphasised that China is in fourth position, surpassing the USA, by virtue of an average annual increase of +58.8% (7.3% of total purchases).

Positive performance also for exports to the USA (+12.5%), Spain (+19.1%) and South Korea            (+22.9%). In contrast to the average figure, men’s fashion exports to the United Kingdom (-32.0%) and Japan (-6.6%), as well as to Hong Kong (-3.4%), are declining.

Beyond the substantial 2020’s rebound for most destinations, with only a few exceptions, it is appropriate to deal with more ‘regular’ market conditions, i.e., the pre-pandemic situation. In this perspective, there is a distinction between countries that have fully recovered from the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and markets that have not yet managed to fill that gap. The first four markets actually have exceeded the levels of 2019: Switzerland by +6.7%, Germany by +9.5%, France by +6.6%. China has a variation of even + 50.0% compared to 2019, which translates into over 170 million euro.

On the contrary, despite the good results of 2021, the USA (-20.1%) and Spain (-13.3% ) remain below pre-pandemic levels, while Russia recorded a decline of -11, 4% compared to 2019.

The English market is of greater concern: the decline in 2021, which follows that of 2020, sees Italian exports down by -46.5% compared to sales in 2019, and Japan recorded a -18.3%.

With regard to imports, China remained slightly down (-1.5%), although it covered 13.6% of the sector’s total. In second place, Bangladesh shows a modest increase of about +1,2%. The increases in imports from France (+22.5%) and Spain (+28.0%), as well as from the Netherlands (+30.4%) and Belgium (+27.5%) are indeed more sustained, which are the entry ports into Europe for Asian goods.