Milan Discusses Fashion Week Safety Guidelines

The Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana was among the organizations taking part in a meeting titled “La sicurezza va di moda,” or “Safety is in Fashion.”

MILAN — As Milan shifts into high gear for the next round of men’s fashion shows in June, the city is also buzzing with talk of safety guidelines.

On Thursday at Palazzo Serbelloni, the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana was among the organizations taking part in a meeting titled “La sicurezza va di moda,” or “Safety is in Fashion.”

Walter Locatelli, general director of Milan’s ASL, or regional public health service, noted that fashion is a major selling point for the city’s tourists, and while companies often complain about the bureaucratic aspects of show safety, his institution’s main concern is to prevent accidents, rather than address them after they’ve happened.

Reacting to previous local press reports that questioned the safety of Milan’s runway shows, Camera president Mario Boselli said the Italian fashion industry has never sought to bypass the issue, and that its overall competitiveness is tied to safety and transparence in the workplace and at shows. “Let’s try to act as a unified group,” he concluded, noting the city should work continuously with fashion organizations to regulate and improve conditions at events.

Cristina Tajani, councilor for employment policies, economic development, universities and research, noted that one challenge specific to the fashion sector was the speed with which show installations are assembled and taken apart. Susanna Cantoni, head of ASL’s prevention department, added that too often, fashion sets are designed long in advance without factoring in safety measures, which then become difficult to implement.

Cantoni also said that ASL was increasing its fashion week inspections: in 2013, it conducted eight at 30 firms, and so far in 2014, it has increased those figures to 33 inspections at 76 companies. A single very serious injury occurred last year, and while there have been no reported injuries this year, ASL has counted 142 health and safety violations, mostly tied to show organization rather than misuse of equipment or other dangers, Cantoni said.

“I don’t think any of [the Camera’s] members, or anyone in the [Italian] fashion industry, doesn’t have safety in mind,” said Camera chief executive officer Jane Reeve. “I’m very happy that we’re meeting today because I think dialogue is crucial — dialogue and common sense.”

She added that fashion shows cost companies between 100,000 and 500,000 euros each in Milan, or about $136,000 to $680,500 at current exchange, a significant portion of which covers safety. One issue where Reeve said there is room for greater dialogue with local health officials is in minor “non-conformity” infractions, which she said should not be the focus of joint efforts to improve safety. Instead, she suggested that “common sense, collaboration and reciprocal esteem” should form the basis of interactions.