Italian fashion houses like to tout the artisanal quality of their products: Made in Italy, they say, means not only beautiful, but well-crafted. Less publicized are the working conditions of those doing the crafting, although following the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh this year, some Italian firms are shining a spotlight on that aspect of business, hoping that consumers will come to view it as a compelling reason to buy Italian clothes.
“In 2012, the Italian textile industry brought in about 8 billion euros [about $10.7 billion] leading to an active trade balance of over 2.5 billion euros [about $3.34 billion],” said Silvio Albini, president of the Milano Unica textile trade show. “So there is a significant monetary added value, but also a very important intangible added value — which is difficult to quantify but that is intrinsic in the value of clothing made with our textiles.”
A Stella McCartney sketch of a custom dress made from protein-based silk in partnership with biotech lab Bolt Threads. The dress will be displayed at The Museum of Modern Art's upcoming design exhibition, "Items: Is Fashion Modern?"