Italy’s already tight lockdown was made even more tight on Saturday evening when our Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced the closure of a factory nationwide, including all of the fashion factories. It was a shocking moment in what appears to be an endless series of shocking moments that we Italians had to endure to get rid of the pandemic. On the one hand, the decree was surely a necessary decision to protect our collective health, but on the other hand, it caused quite a controversy, in that it threatens the survival of our fashion system. I asked Carlo Capasa, president of Italys Camera Nazionale della Moda, his opinion on the decree, and how it will affect not only the future of Italian fashion production, but also the prospect of fashion shows, collections of vacation and country sales in the coming months.
What do you think of the factory closure decree?
I think the decree is undoubtedly necessary right now to help stop the aggressive spread of the epidemic and protect the health of the workforce, which of course must be our top priority. That said, of course, there is room for improvement, as the consequences for our entire fashion system will be very difficult and difficult. In my opinion, the restrictions should have been better modulated and adapted to a fashion production system which is a veritable galaxy of factories of all sizes, where the smallest artisan workshops coexist with enormous industrial installations. One thing that could have helped reduce the damage would have been to implement even more extensive health protection measures in the workplace, by providing masks and gloves and protective equipment to all employees, in particular following even stricter security rules. In China and Japan, for example, each worker in a factory received a mask and gloves, which were changed every four hours. Perhaps the number of workers should have been reduced even more, even if it had already been reduced almost everywhere to a minimum. Verifying the security of ventilation systems, for example, would also have been beneficial, updating their security standards if necessary. One of the problems with the complete cessation of production now is also that many of our factories have started to work endlessly on the production of masks and protective equipment for hospitals, nurses and doctors.
In the decree, fashion factories are included in the category of factories producing useless goods. Yet fashion is one of the biggest industries in Italy. Is fashion really so useless after all?
Fashion is obviously not necessary to preserve life. Today, a steak is actually a much more vital resource than a dress, that’s for sure. But the fashion industry is the backbone of the Italian economy, we cannot forget it. It is a $ 97 billion industry that employs 600,000 people not spoken in small numbers. Completely stopping production here will have serious consequences. The factories were now expected to finalize deliveries of the spring collections to stores, which are instead stuck in warehouses without permission to be shipped to countries that are slowly resuming business. The appetite for fashion is showing encouraging signs of recovery in the Far East, Japan and Korea, even in China. It would be a great pity for fashion companies to lose such an important business opportunity. The resort and men’s collections will also be impossible to produce and present in June to buyers and [the] hurry. This will have a huge impact on the balance sheets of all our factories and companies. What is not reassuring either, is a risk of not being able to organize fashion shows and presentations as we always do, maybe we should go back to different formats, involving fewer people, using technology as a substitute. We still don’t know, but obviously we have to consider different scenarios at this point.
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