Italian leather goods industry is one of the beating hearts of national fashion industry.

But it is also among the supply chains that suffered most from the closures of 2020, with a collapse in sales both on the domestic market (-24.4% on 2019) and abroad (over -25%). Also contributing to the drop is the long stop in tourism that hit the Italian regions last year, penalising high-end products in particular.

In terms of product categories, handbags suffered particularly badly, with a reduction in value of 21.5% compared to the previous 12 months: a hard blow for an excellence that represents 65% of our exports.

With 2021, the situation has begun to change, as Sace data also confirms: in June, exports grew by over 30.2%. But how can this trend be consolidated?

Pelletteria italiana: immagine di un artigiano al lavoro/ Image of an artisan working for Italian leather goods industry

Continuing the recovery: solutions for Italian leather goods

It is essential, now more than ever, to find new ways of generating long-term growth. In an industry with a turnover of 9 billion, where big names and small craft businesses coexist, it is a question of finding flexible and effective strategies.

But which ones?

First and foremost, to continue to work as a system, strengthening existing partnerships and creating new ones both inside and outside Italy.

While it is certain that e-commerce has been the most immediate way to cope with the situation, it is undeniable that new technologies are a crucial asset whose opportunities are not limited to online sales.

In a scenario accompanied by the resurgence of trade fairs, only an integrated strategy covering both the physical and digital dimensions can make the difference in building valuable business relationships. This principle clearly emerged during the “Stati Generali della Pelletteria” held in July in Florence and organised by Assopellettieri, which brings together the main players in the sector.

At the basis of the re-launch of the supply chain there must therefore be a comprehensive vision, able to plan its future to continue to defend a leadership position: it is no coincidence that between January and May 2021 Italy remained the second largest exporter of leather goods at global level.

This is confirmed by the data of the Economic Observatory of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which tell of a gradual recovery of international trade towards the major geographies. Continuing to observe them carefully therefore remains the key to success.

Immagine di pelli lavorate/ image of

The tools: tailor-made market analysis

As mentioned above, Italian leather goods companies should not lose sight of the physical dimension of their business, with an eye on foreign markets.

Digital can also give a boost in this sense, through tools such as market analysis.

For an industry that has been able to define the rules of clothing throughout the world, it is essential to know the best areas to focus on, but above all the companies with which to establish relationships.

A market analysis of the right distributors could be the ideal solution to grow in new areas; similarly, identifying specialised suppliers is a viable way to optimise your supply chain management. This is a good idea, especially at the moment when the leather goods industry is also having to review its supply chain, focusing increasingly on sustainability.

It is precisely the theme of the circular economy that cannot be underestimated today, especially as regards the traceability of raw materials. For all those companies that continue to invest in quality, it will be essential to identify key partners with whom to guarantee ever-better products.

The commitment to new production models also emerges from the sustainability report of UNIC, the trade association of Italy’s largest tanning companies, which for some time now have been moving towards innovative business models that have less impact on the environment.

Similarly, companies involved in the production of finished products (shoes, bags, belts and other accessories) can certainly benefit from the current market situation to improve their offer.

This is certainly a challenging process, but one that will certainly bear fruit in the long term.

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