Italy is the third biggest textile-fashion exporting country behind China and Germany: end 2016 export sales reached 29.5 billion Euro, 1.7% more than the preceding year, with a turnover of 52,853 million Euro, 0.9% more than in 2015.
In short, the made in Italy concept as regards yarns, fabrics, apparel, footwear and all what comes with it shows no downturn in the international rating. The credit goes to an excellent supply chain, an array of smaller and tiny entrepreneurs able to deal with an uncertain market, with lower consumption levels, big changes and a new lifestyle. In doing so –and it is not easy – they can count on the long-held support of CNA Federmoda, the textile and fashion branch of CNA, the National Confederation of Artisans. The association gathers approximately 25,000 businesses, over 70% of which are subcontractors and work on behalf of third parties.
The backbone of the fashion industry
Antonio Franceschini, Head of CNA Federmoda, talks about the changes that occurred in this industry in the last few years and what CNA is doing to support and promote the firms. «It is an excellent sector – he states – extremely varying, differential in terms of offer, of know-how and competitiveness. These small businesses, so vibrant, though tiny, are the backbone of the whole fashion industry. Abroad, people realize that the secret of our excellent products lies exactly in such details as ennobling of fabrics, buttons, seams, tanning, and lot of styling tricks».
There is a need to put foreign textile, fashion and footwear companies in touch with number of Italian artisans. «To this aim, in February 2016 we launched a new step of the «Italian manufacture» project, an integrated programme of promotional actions developed for artisans in this industry; we then completed the programme with the www.moodmarket.it portal, for them to meet, to exchange information and start a manufacture or trade cooperation. The Ministry of Economic Development realized that it was a good idea and granted a contribution – Mr Franceschini adds – while Agenzia ITA (translator’s note: former Foreign Trade Institute) is helping us to grow the business community that promotes Italian artisans. The response is encouraging and, at present, in excess of 230 Italian firms offer their products and services on Mood Market while their number keeps growing». The portal was introduced and is being promoted at all major international clothing, knitwear, footwear and leather goods and accessories exhibitions.
Education to and social responsibility
A greater visibility in the international market has been offered also the national young fashion designers’ contest Concorso Nazionale Professione Moda Giovani Stilisti, launched in 1991 with RicercaModaInnovazione and organized in Riccione. In fact, since this year, the presentation of selected designers takes place beginning of July (4th – 9th July 2017) in Rome, thanks to a partnership reached with AltaRoma, the fashion week in Rome. «It is a unique event because of an excellent connection between schools and firms, young designers and the labour market – Franceschini points out – whereas the cooperation with AltaRoma creates the conditions to obtain a wider visibility for emerging designers, dedicated technical schools and firms as well. They will obtain an even higher added value; in fact, as usual, we shall host some foreign young designers (from UAE countries to Tunisia, from Mozambique to Mongolia) who will bring their experience and their products to Rome. It is a cultural contamination that brings contract sales from abroad; in fact, the emerging designers need the Italian capacity and above all its flexibility based on smaller businesses».
A further action carried out by CNA Federmoda, together with the Ministry of Education, covers education to and social responsibility. «Within a project called «Consumi e diritti. Conosci quel che indossi» (consumption and rights – Learn what you wear) – Franceschini explains – CNA undertakes to educate tomorrow’s mindful consumers. Italian excellent manufacturers are the envy of the world; I wonder if our young people realize it». This is why last April we published a paper guide and digital guide, to be distributed in the school in September together with an array of presentations; the aim is to let young people and their families understand what they buy, educating them to respect the rule of law and to develop social and environmental responsibility as regards fashion. «The value of Made in Italy is its attention to ethics in manufacture, the work of small craft businesses that focus on human values within the manufacturing process. Federmoda firmly believes in this message and spreads it».
Another challenge CNA Federmoda has to face in 2017 is the topical subject Industry 4.0. «It is our commitment to transfer Italian small-scale entrepreneurs the fact that what is called the 4.0 revolution is not in contrast to the idea of craft production; on the contrary, it is a further opportunity for the entire Italian textile-fashion supply chain. It is a new driver to make firms and areas grow. Our ‘made in Italy’ needs to differentiate more and more with its steady care for innovation, sustainability and training of human resources in terms of skills and craftsmanship – Franceschini explains -. In this context, there is still a lot do in training and in an effort to move smaller businesses to cutting-edge technologies».