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From Runways to Catwalks

International fashion began a hectic month of activity in early September with New York Fashion Week, followed in quick succession by similar events in London, Milan, and Paris.

The ‘big four’ are big business. And they are mirrored throughout the world, with fashion shows taking place in cities from Jakarta to Buenos Aires. Karl Lagerfeld has shown some of his Chanel collections in locations such as Moscow, Los Angeles, and Monte Carlo, for example.

In May 2012, China Fashion Week attracted 140,000 visitors, including all-important international buyers. Commitments to purchase during the week totalled $138.7 million (CNY880 million).

China has also been busy importing Italian fabrics for its manufacturing companies. Fabric exports from Italy to China grew 27.2% in 2011 compared with 2010. Milano Unica, an international textile association, says the exports were worth $256.3 million (EUR 203 million) to the Italian economy.

It’s money that has its genesis in air service. Antonino Laspina, Director of the Italian Trade Commission in China, says important buyers from the US and Japan fly into China and admire the quality of Chinese manufacturing. “But the demand for high-quality clothing can only be satisfied with Italian fabrics,” he adds.

Caroline Rush, CEO of the British Fashion Council, which organizes the London Fashion Week (LFW), agrees that airlines make many of the jobs in the international fashion world possible.

“The aviation industry plays an integral role in the fashion industry and goes much further than the shipping of goods,” she says. “International showcases such as LFW rely on airlines around the world to deliver thousands of international media, retailers, models, hair and make-up artists to attend and participate in each event. Thousands of international industry guests descend on London each fashion week, the majority arriving by air.”

According to UK Trade & Investment, LFW attracts visitors from more than 25 countries. Orders in excess of $159 million (GBP100 million) are estimated to be placed during LFW each season, with the value of media coverage surpassing another $159 million.

UK designers export two-thirds of the clothing they produce. Overseas sales of the UK apparel and textiles industries combined are worth $10.2 billion (GBP6.4 billion) at manufacturers’ prices.

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