It is considered the luxury district, both because top-notch global brands found some of their expertise, helping to then stimulate its development and because large labels from other regions and countries have chosen to lay roots in this area to take advantage of its expertise. But the Florentine high-quality leather hub does not only breathe an international air due to the presence of these groups: its growth rates on foreign markets are back to important dimensions.
In the five-year period between 2009-13 – according to statistics reported by the Centro Studi della Confindustria Toscana [Research Center] – Tuscan exports practically doubled to reach nearly €1.9 billion in 2013. Last year, the increase was of 11% compared to 2012. The trend appears confirmed by the statistics from the first six months of 2014: according to Intesa Sanpaolo’s Monitor dei Distretti della Toscana [Tuscan Districts Monitor], the expansion of Florentine leather outside the national borders reached 9% in the first quarter and nearly 12% in the second quarter of 2014.
The district, which generates an aggregate turnover of nearly 2.8 billion, extends throughout the Florentine province from Scandicci to the Val di Sieve, and its production focuses on upscale (both in terms of quality and of price) leather goods – primarily handbags. Although the turnover may be experiencing a few years of transition, due primarily to a poor internal demand, other indicators attest to its health: according to the Camera di Commercio di Firenze [Florence’s Chamber of Commerce], the number of artisanal leather shops exceeds 2,000 units in 2014 (from the approximately 1,900 in 2011), while the non-artisanal businesses increased from 2,600 to nearly 2,800 during the same period. The three-year period also added three thousand employees to the sector, for a total of 16,200.
The quality of raw materials and the strength of the know-how – a survey by the weekly Affari&Finanza magazine – is urging various maisons [fashion houses] to increase their commitment to this area both directly, as in the case of Prada and Gucci, or through third party companies, just as many Tuscan brands are starting to bring back the production previously transferred to other countries.
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