At the forefront of sustainability via the institution of the Green Carpet Awards in 2017 and several documents released on the matter, Italy’s fashion chamber has now expanded its commitment to address these social topics, considered as crucial.
“This is such an important moment for us,” said Camera della Moda’s president Carlo Capasa. “Fashion can play a special role in this social discussion, since it is an industry that touches everyone’s life on a daily basis. Yet, paradoxically, as the world has become increasingly globalized and interconnected, the fashion industry has struggled to reflect diversity. We must resume our role as a guiding light.”
Compiled by Parsons School of Design’s fashion and costume professor Kimberly Jenkins, the manifesto is the result of CNMI’s “HR & Education” roundtable, that was first held in 2017 involving key Italian fashion companies, including Ermenegildo Zegna, Fendi, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Missoni, OTB, Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo and Valentino, among others.
In particular, the document comprises 10 guidelines intended to support fashion companies’ development toward more inclusive policies that could respect differences in race, gender, sexual and religious orientation, age, mental and physical abilities and socio-economical circumstances.
The principles are:
1. “Diversity is an asset,” sustaining that multicultural teams lead to more dynamic work environments and intolerance for discrimination or exclusion enables employees to live their lives fully and express their true potential;
2. “Fashion supports through listening,” encouraging companies to listen to the different experiences of their employees and provide a platform to amplify the voices of those who have been marginalized;
3. “Collaboration as commitment,” which invites companies to commit to creating collaborative work environments where sharing different ideas and knowledge is a favored practice;
4. “Talent without prejudices,” reiterating fashion as a creative field that enhances and rewards talent and skills, holding no bias against any individual;
5. “Recapturing the ethical dimension of aesthetics,” consisting of a call to break the physically and psychologically harmful schemes of beauty offered in runways, ads and editorial campaigns by favoring legal regulations and cultural shifts in beauty standards among brands and model agencies;
6. “Fashion influences change,” which recognizes the role of fashion as trendsetter and driver of positive change, urging to further commit in leveraging and maximizing the potential of these assets;
7. “Inclusion builds business,” sustained by market research proving that inclusion impacts the performance of a company and its attractiveness both by talented professionals and customers;
8. “Fashion technology as a facilitator, not a barrier,” inviting companies to train not-digital-native employees to implement new skills and break down barriers among the workforce;
9. “Fashion is fearless,” leveraging the signature, disruptive nature of fashion to embrace different perspectives and imagine new scenarios in branding;
10. “Walking the talk,” the final imperative of actually committing to apply these guidelines in the business structures.
“We have a challenge, it’s not an easy one but we have to commit to this. If someone has ever felt awful within and because of this industry, we are the awful people who put that person in such a position. So now we must take action,” said Capasa, adding that the Camera della Moda will monitor the companies’ efforts in implementing these principles.
The executive said the association will examine diversity and inclusion by beginning to address two core aspects: how a brand communicates these topics through marketing, partnerships and public engagements and how companies’ HR and CSR prioritize and favor inclusion through their hiring procedures and ongoing education within the brand’s culture.
To reiterate its commitment, the CNMI also staged the “Including Diversity” talk in Milan’s Teatro Gerolamo venue, which served as a platform to officially introduce the manifesto as well as to discuss case histories presented by different fashion players. In particular, representatives from Kering-owned companies Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Pomellato and Kering Eyewear hosted a panel to present a study the French Group assembled on the gender gap and women’s role in Italy’s fashion supply chain.