Made In Italy Says it All

Fast fashion is too fast for the companies that created the concept!

While clothing chain H&M is struggling to sell off $4 billion in extra merchandise, Italy's Fashion chamber in Milan addresses its goals to establish criteria for sustainability.  Italy produces 40 percent of all clothing, accessories and footwear made in Europe and 70 percent of all luxury fashion categories. The fashion industry is the second-largest polluting industry, after oil production. This makes it a priority for Italy to lead the industry in sustainability. The head of the Italian Fashion Chamber, Carlo Capasa, says they are "working toward creating clear criteria of what it means for the fashion industry to be environmentally sustainable." In jbasic terms it means change, and innovating all aspects of the industry to protect the natural world but also to protect our claim to quality style. If the commission seeks clear criteria to integrate sustainability in a meaningful way, they may need to alter their public message to promote classic quality that won't hit the bin. Upcycling and recycling programs to refashion those high-quality threads may also help them hold the line on the circular economy. Carlo Capasa agrees that consumers "love sustainability but they also love to buy cheap clothing." This notion may is also being challenged in the marketplace. According to the Washington Post, "Millennials are growing up and are more interested in buying well-made clothes than in buying cheap items." Maybe the Italian message should be Less is More or Quality over Quantity. Like food in Italy they could push for SLOW Fashion. Capasa's chamber group is working toward creating specific guidelines on the chemical use and industrial discharge, as well as methods to ensure supply chains can be traced. I hope the chamber adds some firm deadlines and targets to this and creates a comprehensive marketing plan that protects the "Made in Italy" mark for future generations. It currently sounds more like they are sailing without a destination. With focussed marketing, a SLOW fashion movement could save the Italian industry while making the necessary moves toward sustainability and emissions reductions. Innovating in this sector will keep Italian fashion current. Quality and design are synonymous with Italy and challenges the notion of fast fashion, which hits the bin at the end of the season and has tragic repercussions for the environment. Italy has been historically mute on this topic rather than heralding what they are best at, quality, classic, come hither clothing. Industries should no longer be allowed to ignore their high-carbon footprint and the toxicity levels found throughout the supply chain nor should they push piles of crap on us. Take 10 as in 10 good pieces that make one great wardrobe would be my approach. As consumers, we should not ignore the push for plenty of stuffwe don't acturally need either. We all struggle with the discrepancies in the marketplace but fundamentally as business people we know the benefits of curating your life with a few good quality items and often wish we had left the fast fashion on the rack. Turns out we may collectively already be doing exactly that as in March 2018, H&M found themselves with several (4) billion dollars of unsold goods. Fast fashion is even too fast for the companies that created the concept. Slow goods, like slow food, protect the Italian heritage as well as protecting the planet for future generations, who may appreciate Italian designs being handed down to them. The Italian fashion industry can take advantage with a public message on intergenerational manufacturing, classics that define you today and tomorrow, this industry standard is implicitly more sustainable and a hell of a lot better looking. Article Daisy Carlson, Photo Kaci Baum

Nino Vacaro really turns fast fashion on it's head with his poignant article below.


Ethical Lessons From The Success Of 'Made In Italy'

By Nino Vaccaro

Every morning, when I choose which jacket I will wear to work, I think of my grandfather. Although he passed away 12 years ago, I still use every day the very beautiful and elegant garments that he passed down to me. All of them are ´Made in Italy.´ As IESE’s professor of business ethics, I cannot find a better example of environmental sustainability for my students. What can be more environmentally sustainable than an elegant and beautiful jacket that lasts for more than 25 years?

Today many famous international brands focus on low cost products that, after not even a season, are good for garbage. Sure, I know, often the material can be recycled. But just imagine the huge amount of emissions that have to be produced to transport these clothes from their factories (many of them in the Far East), to national warehouses, to shops, to your house and finally throughout the long supply chain of urban waste and reuse.

Following a radically different approach, many Italian brands have kept on offering high quality fashion products that can be passed down through the generations. The founder of a well-known Italian fashion brand has repeatedly said that the purchase of a sweater should be an inter-generational decision, just like in my case. It is a clear example of how environmental sustainability can be intrinsic to the way products are imagined and produced.

And this is not the only important lesson that other countries and companies can take away from the success of the Made in Italy brand. There are three distinctive ways that make the second largest industrial power of Europe a unique example in the global market.

First, Made in Italy products combine high quality with durability. It is a distinctive way to make things not only in the fashion industry, but also in the automotive, aeronautical, naval, home furniture sectors, etc.

Second, Italy is now strategically using business-driven initiatives to fix some of its historical problems. While anti-mafia police forces are effectively fighting against organized crime, many firms are working to create new, honest jobs in places that once were controlled by mafias. A wonderful example is Addiopizzo Travel, a socially responsible travel agency that gives alternative tours for tourists in the beautiful south of Italy. It does this by relying on a network of entrepreneurs that actively fight against organized crime and work to create a better, alternative economy.

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