Carlo Capasa

MILAN On Friday evening, Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte extended the country’s lockdown to May 3, which was largely expected. The lockdown to fight the coronavirus outbreak was first enforced on March 9 and was meant to be lifted on April 13. Italy has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak and, despite an improvement in the curve of contagions, as of April 10, at least 147,577 citizens have been infected, and of these, 18,849 have died, according to the Civil Protection.

Conte said only stationery shops, bookstores and stores that cater to infants and children will be free to open on April 14, as well as professional studios, and allowed a number of industries to restart, including forestry and components. Fashion was not included and, on Saturday, Italy’s daily La Repubblica published a paid ad by the country’s Camera della Moda, signed by its chairman Carlo Capasa. In it, he references how together with luxury goods association Altagamma and Confindustria Moda, the associations have used their combined expertise to offer to the government a number of measures that will hopefully be “quickly and easily implemented.”

In the open letter, Capasa underscored how fashion’s production cycles are long and, while it was only right to comply with the lockdown, closing until May 3 could “risk destroying” the sector. “If we don’t reopen by April 20, we will not have the technical time to deliver the fall/winter collections that need to be shipped around the world by July. We will not be able to produce the spring/summer 2021 collections for the sales campaign that take place in June, which [this year] will be done remotely,” Capasa stated. This is an obligatory step to allow production, followed by the delivery to stores globally by December and January. The stop will also not allow companies to have the collections ready for the shows in September. “The question at this point is: Are we ready to lose the industry that is our symbol? To lose the role of world leadership?”

In the first part of the letter, Capasa noted that fashion remains largely an unknown world for those who live outside of it and are not aware of its “real values and real mechanisms.”

Pointing out how Italy is the first country in Europe in terms of textile, fashion and accessories production, accounting for 41 percent of manufacturing in the continent, he characterized this as a “an outstanding record as no other industry has that advantage on other countries” in the region, highlighting how Italy is the first producer of luxury fashion in the world, and an “ambassador” of the country’s positive values. “Now is the moment to preserve our industry and to be more than ever proud of it.”

Warning against the loss of hundreds of thousands of specialized and qualified jobs, Capasa said the associations are aware of the caution needed to balance health and the economy, but said the industry’s companies have been setting up regulations and safety protections. He also reminded how part of the supply chain was converted “in record time” to produce masks and medical overalls, “with passion and generosity.”

However, “if we want to continue to have a fashion industry in Italy, we must restart fashion’s production immediately with the pride of doing it not only for us, but also for the future generations of this wonderful country.”

As reported, over the past month several fashion associations and retailers have expressed their concerns with the lockdown. Last month, the Camera della Moda submitted a document detailing a number of proposals for action in support of the fashion industry to the government, which ranged from cuts in fiscal and social security charges to contain labor costs for companies affected by the crisis, to tax incentives and direct aids to small and medium enterprises, including artisans, to avoid crushing Italy’s typical structure, to name a few.

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