Confindustria Moda, the umbrella organization of the Italian fashion industry, inaugurated on May 15 its new 3,800 square-meter offices, hosting more than 100 employees, at Via Riva Villasanta 3 in Milan. The eyewear industry is regarded in Italy as being part of this sector.

Confindustria Moda comprises Sistema Moda Italia (SMI), which groups the textile and apparel firms operating in the country; Assocalzaturifici, the  shoemakers' association; Aimpes, representing the leathergoods industry; Anfao, the trade association representing eyewear manufacturers; Associazione Italiana Pellicceria, for the fur industry; Federorafi for jewelers; and the Italian tanners' association, Unic. All these trade associations have moved from their former offices in Milan to the new offices, except for Unic.

On Jan. 30, 2017, Confindustria Moda was officially registered with a notary public. On April 7, Anfao, Assocalzaturifici and SMI jointly bought the building in Via Villasanta 3, which had been empty for about three years. They did so through subsidiary companies: Mido, Anci Servizi and Siste,

The building, which was completed in 1940, was previously the abode of a tie factory, Nicky Chini. The premises were restructured between August 2017 and January 2018, with the first associations already moving in last December.

While Assocalzaturifici has sold its previous headquarters in Via Monte Rosa, Anfao has kept its former head office in Via Pettitti, renting it out to Federvarie, which groups some other small trade associations such as Assosport, which represents Italy's sporting goods industry. Some of the space is also being rented out to an Italian trade magazine on eyewear, b2eyes.

Combining the associations has enabled to bring in-house some services that in some cases had to be outsourced such as legal assistance, especially for the protection of intellectual property rights and the fight against counterfeiting. Confindustria Moda also provides support for labor negotiations, training and economic research.

The partnership has led the association to share some costs such as the maintenance of the building. The basement of the building hosts a multi-function space that can be used for catwalks and other events. Synergies are also expected in areas such as the promotion of the “made in Italy” label in foreign markets and the organization of trade fairs abroad.

In 2017, the Italian textile, fashion and accessories industry represented by Confindustria Moda enjoyed a 3.2 percent increase in revenues to €94.2 billion. Its exports rose by 5.2 percent to €61.7 billion, while imports grew by 3.1 percent to 34.0 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of €27.7 billion, up by 7.9 percent.

The number of companies fell by 0.9 percent during the year to 66,751 units and the sector's headcount increased by 0.1 percent to 580,993 people.

Italy's previous government had allocated a budget of €200 million over a three-year period for the promotion of the fashion sector, after granting funds to the associations to invite foreign buyers and journalists to trade shows like Micam Milano and Mido. Inaugurating Pitti Uomo, the big international menswear fair in Florence, on June 12, Italy's newly appointed Minister of Culture, Alberto Bonisoli, confirmed the new government's support for the fashion sector, indicating that it is placing a priority on the promotion of Italian design and creativity.

Claudio Marenzi, who chairs Confindustria Moda, said that the government should make it easier for foreign students to study fashion in Italy. He said it was difficult for some of them to get a visa, leading them to go to France instead.

Marenzi, who runs Pitti Immagine, will chair Confindustria Moda for two years before passing on the helm to Cirillo Marcolin, former president of Anfao. The general managers of SMI and Anfao, Gianfranco Di Natale and Astrid Galimberti, are running Confindustria Moda's day-to-day operations.