Italian Fashion Seeks 3B Euros in Aid From Government

Luisa Zargani
·5 min read

MILAN — The Italian fashion industry is like no other.

That was a key message that Carlo Capasa, chairman of the country’s Camera della Moda, conveyed to the Italian Senate in Rome this week.

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“The fashion industry requires specific and targeted measures that are not applicable elsewhere, given the structure of the pipeline, from the very small artisan to the very big established brands, with very little in the middle,” Capasa told WWD, explaining the motivations behind his trip to the Italian capital.

In Rome, Capasa spoke about the industry’s prospects within the national Recovery and Resilience Plan during talks held by the lower Chamber’s Industry Commission and the Senate’s European Budget and Affairs Commission. On this occasion, he quantified the sum needed to restart the fashion industry, badly affected by the coronavirus impact.

According to Capasa and the Camera, up to 3 billion euros would be necessary as part of an “immediate intervention” to support all the small and medium-sized enterprises in Italy, many counting fewer than 15 employees. The investment, he said, is “needed to restart a key sector in the Italian economy.”

While a significant sum, the 3 billion euros compares with the 8 billion euros requested by the tourism and culture sector; 20 billion euros from transportation and 30 billion euros from energy firms.

The questions Capasa was asked by the Senate members were “very interesting” and he was pleased by how he was received, as there was “strong interest” shown for the immediate steps that he proposed in the name of the Camera for the pipeline.

“We are aiming to put fashion in the best condition possible to tackle the future challenges and the post-COVID-19 scenario,” Capasa said.

He called the document presented to the government the “Position Papers,” mapping out the main guidelines. A more specific document will be presented next week, detailing single investments for each project. “It will be increasingly important to structure and improve the Made in Italy districts, preserving their know-how while also modernizing them,” he observed.

Capasa took the time to underscore the unity of the Camera della Moda, and how the entrepreneurs and the brands are actively involved.

“In this moment, we are all in this together in a very cohesive way, we are all aware that we must go forward together, creating a system, thinking of the future for us, for the planet and for the younger generations, carving a path and giving them hope.”

In fact, as reported, last week an impressive group of leaders met to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the industry, and how the larger companies could help smaller and medium-sized ones impacted even more heavily by the pandemic.

The industry is setting out a path to recovery as the new government of Prime Minister Mario Draghi determines ways to help the country’s economy rebound via the COVID-19 Recovery Fund totaling more than 200 billion euros from the European Union.

The meeting included representatives of the Camera della Moda’s strategic committee — Patrizio Bertelli, chief executive officer of the Prada Group; Gildo Zegna, ceo of the Ermenegildo Zegna Group, and Renzo Rosso, chairman of OTB, who met with Carlo Bonomi, president of Confindustria, the association that comprises 64,300 companies in the fashion sector. Other members of the association present included the vice president for internationalization Barbara Beltrame Giacomello; the vice president of organization, development and marketing Alberto Marenghi; general director Francesca Mariotti, and president of Confindustria Moda Cirillo Marcolin. Also attending were Marino Vago, president of Sistema Moda Italia, and Claudio Marenzi, president of Herno and former president of Confindustria Moda.

The strategic committee and the brands it represents are developing the document together with Confindustria to help grow the sector after the pandemic, underscoring the importance to collaborate on proposals and actions to undertake.

As reported, Capasa said last week that the fashion association was planning to present a plan to the Italian government requesting specific measures and strategies to help the industry as part of the COVID-19 Recovery Fund.

“Italian fashion is one of the industries hardest hit by the pandemic, with sales down 26 percent to around 75 billion euros,” said Capasa, who is in his third term as head of the association. He characterized any intervention as an investment that would allow the industry “to once again be the powerhouse of Italy’s economy and global image.”

He underscored that fashion is Italy’s second industry, with sales in 2019 of almost 100 billion euros. Exports amounted to 71.5 billion euros that year. “The fashion industry ensures jobs for 550,000 people in Italian manufacturing and as many again in trade and services,” for a total of 1.1 million individuals. Italian fashion, he observed, represents 41 percent of this sector in Europe — what the automotive industry is for Germany.

With respect to the Recovery Fund, Capasa promised that “Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana will be activating detailed projects on environmental and social sustainability, digitalization, internationalization and training to ensure a specialized and competitive future on the global market for the new generations.”

He said some categories in each pillar overlap, as the environmental impact goes arm-in-arm with diversity and inclusivity under the sustainability umbrella.

He also believes in stepping up investments in research, innovation and development, introducing specific measures such as social security and tax relief, funding Made in Italy marketing campaigns and increasing funds already allocated.