The Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana "Fashion Deserves the World" project.

MILAN — Marking World Refugee Day on Sunday, Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana unveiled a new project aimed at helping international migrants and refugees build a career in the country’s fashion industry.

During a virtual press conference amid Milan’s men’s shows, the Italian fashion chamber’s chairman Carlo Capasa said the project — called Fashion Deserves the World — is a “concrete answer to real needs, in that it offers a place in the fashion industry to young talents coming to Italy, who might feel lost here.”

The fashion body teamed up with Mygrants, a platform developed by Christian Richmond Nzi that since its foundation has provided a career and placement service to migrants and refugees in Italy, assessing their skills and matching supply and demand in the labor market.

“We’ve been working across different sectors, and after a year and half talking with the Camera della Moda, we are finally able to make our foray in the fashion sector,” explained Nzi, chief executive officer of Mygrants. “Over the years, we’ve been in touch with people with fashion-related skills, in tailoring for example, but we never managed to offer them the right job positions.”

Starting Monday, the Mygrants platform, which counts 135,000 active users, will open applications to all migrants and refugees under 35 with fashion-related expertise. It will then shortlist the candidates based on their hard and soft skills before the fashion chamber selects 15 talents who will be granted training and job opportunities at one of the members of the Camera Nazionale della Moda.

The initiative has secured the patronage of the United Nations’ Ethical Fashion Initiative and is part of the calendar of events planned for World Refugee Day of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR.

“I hope this project will spread like wildfire, but it was important to start with this pilot supporting 15 boys and girls,” Capasa said.

“There couldn’t be a better way to celebrate World Refugee Day,” noted Giovanna Li Perni, head of private partnerships and philanthropy at UNHCR. “In the year of the pandemic, while many of us were staying safe at home, there were 82 million people in the world that were forced to flee their countries. These people come here with dreams, talents, and ambitions.”

Capasa noted that the project is particularly fitting given that in the upcoming years around 40,000 high-skilled fashion jobs will be vacant in the wake of retirements. “They are all very specific jobs, and we have to find successors among people with talent and commitment. Migrants and refugees are an integral part of our country and a great resource,” he said.

Li Perni underscored that work and economic independence are pivotal in securing a new and better life for migrants: Citing recent OCSE and Boston Consulting Group studies, she offered that multiculturalism is an added value for countries and companies alike.

The initiative is part of Camera Nazionale della Moda’s ongoing programs aimed at fostering diversity and inclusivity in the fashion industry first commenced in 2019 when it published its manifesto on the topic.

The manifesto was the result of CNMI’s “HR & Education” roundtable, which 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.

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