by Stephen Garner

The Italian Trade Agency (ITA) has launched a new digital platform to help Italian designers showcase their collections amid continued disruption to the industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funded in part by a grant the Italian Government recently allotted to the fashion, furniture, and design industries, the online platform, called “EXTRAITASTYLE” (an acronym for Extraordinary Italian Style), will focus on helping companies grow their business in the United States.

The platform aims to be the ultimate 3-D destination for Made in Italy fashion excellence. Its mission is to pay homage to Italian heritage highlighting small and medium businesses, and connecting them with U.S. retailers, media, and consumers. From ready-to-wear collections to artisanal accessories and masterfully handcrafted pieces, brands will have their own virtual boutique, a dedicated page with social media integrations, video streams, and a business-to-business reserved area. Designers will also be able to use the online platform to interact with key U.S. retailers and present their line sheets and collections digitally.

ITA has invited 100 brands to join the site and is planning to attract additional companies in the following weeks. In addition to the virtual boutiques and their dedicated brand page, brands will be able to engage in a fully supported digital market process.

And, the platform is easy to use. Viewers will be able to browse and interact with the platform like any other user-friendly online experiences. While most of the site is available to the general public, the ITA created two exclusive areas, one for the buyers and one for the brands. Buyers will access a business-to-business section that allows them to send the brand market notes or compile orders. On the other hand, the brands that are part of the platform can browse through a retailer area that lists information related to key U.S. stores. The whole system was conceived to create a seamless digital conversation between brands and buyers.

“With the launch of EXTRAITASTYLE, ITA is focusing on both supporting emerging and established designers,” said Antonino Laspina, Italian trade commissioner and executive director for the USA. “While we will hopefully resume a somewhat traditional showcase calendar, our platform will be an all year round one-stop-shop destination for consumers, press, retailers, and influencers to explore and engage with historic and up-and-coming labels. The American market is of strategic importance for the Made in Italy fashion. The United States is the first non-EU destination market for Italian exports. In 2019 Italy recorded an export value to the USA of approximately $9 billion, reflecting an increase of 4.2 percent from 2018.”

“With this in mind, EXTRAITASTYLE is more than a quick response to social distancing and restricted travel,” Laspina added. “The digital platform will help designers faced with short term needs caused by COVID-19 with an opportunity to present ‘seasonless’ collections.”

Shop and register to access EXTRAITASTYLE here.

Images Courtesy of EXTRAITASTYLE / Produced by Buro.London