Michele Scannavini, the president of the Italian Agency for Foreign Trade (Ice), announced earlier this week that the Italian government will increase its aid for the Italian fashion industry by 45 percent in 2017. The announcement was made on the opening day of the 91st edition of Pitti Immagine Uomo in Florence on Jan. 10. The government has planned to allocate €35 million to the sector in 2017, as compared to €24 million in 2016.

Last year, public funds helped nearly 2,000 companies and 500 brands, most of which were small and medium-sized enterprises, Scannavini said. Italy's fashion industry accounts for around 35 percent of the overall European fashion sector.

Through Ice, the Italian government is also helping to fund the attendance of foreign buyers and journalists at major trade fairs in Milan such as theMicam or Mido. As previously reported, many fashion fairs in Milan, including theMicam, will be taking place in the same timeframe next September.

As previously reported, the Italian shoe industry association, Assocalzaturifici, is drawing closer together with other fashion-related trade associations to form a common umbrella organization to share various services, starting next spring. They may possibly end up with a common office in Milan, but their individual identities and their management would be preserved.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella, who was also present at the inauguration of Pitti Uomo, announced a new synergy with his opposite number in Milan, Giuseppe Sala. Florence and Milan will join forces for the organization of cultural initiatives as well as specific initiatives around fashion. Nardella met with Sala on Dec. 29 to discuss the launch of the new synergies.