The Italian fashion sector accounted for 1.3 per cent of its economy with aggregate sales of €70.4 bn in 2017. In the past five years, aggregate turnover and employment rose by 28.9 per cent and 19.7 per cent respectively, with a 6.6 per cent average annual sales growth, according to the latest survey on the fashion industry by Mediobanca Research Area.

Exports continue to gain in importance, accounting for 63 per cent of the turnover, a report said citing the survey results. Apparel is the most important segment, accounting for 40.5 per cent of total revenues, followed by leatherwear (20.9 per cent) and eyewear (16.2 per cent), while the fastest-growing is jewellery, with an annual average growth rate of 13.3 per cent.

Fifteen out of the 43 European fashion giants are Italian. Luxottica and Prada stand out in particular, ranking 7th and 14th respectively in the European rankings by total sales. French companies are still larger in size, however, with LVMH alone turning over €42.6 bn.

The survey also contains a comparison between the top fifteen Italian companies and 148 others. Despite their enormous competitive advantage, the distance between the top fifteen and the rest of the pack is narrowing, leading to a roughly equal distribution between leaders and followers in terms of net profits.