A stronger constitution - the Confindustria Moda

11 May 2017

The Confindustria Moda, which was announced in March, aims to bring Italy’s textile, clothing and fashion trade associations under a single, unified body that will be able to represent their shared interests at home and abroad. Andrea Guolo reports on the advantages the new federation will bring.

The Confindustria Moda constitution aims to remedy Italy’s disparate textile, apparel and accessories sector. The newly established federation brings together the associations representing textile and clothing (Sistema Moda Italia); footwear (Assocalzaturifici); leather goods (Aimpes); optical goods (Anfao); fur (Aip); jewellery (Federorafi); and the tanning industry (UNIC), which will join by the end of the year.

Excluding subcontractors, the associations represent more than 67,000 companies and a global turnover of €88.4 billion in 2016, with year-end growth prospects of 2%, for a total of about 580,000 employees.

“Confindustria Moda has been created to put a single roof over the common needs of companies belonging to different associations,” says Claudio Marenzi, Sistema Moda Italia’s chairman and first president of the new confederation. “We have long felt the need for a federation that could represent fashion, textile and accessory sectors, but now there are the right conditions to unify the whole system, a compartment that is very varied in Italy, ranging from luxury brands to small and medium-sized companies, but all with a common denominator: craftsmanship.”

All for one

The individual associations will still manage their most strategic business units, such as the organisation of international fairs. In Milan, theMicam will remain under Assocalzaturifici’s control, Mipel retains leather goods, Lineapelle keeps tanning, and Mifur will continue with fur and other non-leather events. What changes, then?

“First of all, we can offer two additional services to our associates, without additional costs,” explains Tommaso Cancellara, Assocalzaturifici’s general manager and CEO of theMicam.

One true voice

The first of those will be the legal office; the second will concern the industrial relations. The overriding impression, however, is that these benefits represent an almost secondary element if they are compared with the will of having a single voice in the international discussions, particularly in the relationship with the European Union.

Cancellara highlights the points on which Confindustria Moda intends to fight for its companies: “We want to be stronger, moving in a unified way to fundamental issues, such as the mandatory Made in Italy labels – which we support – the recognition of the market economy status (MES) to China – to which we are opposed – and the end of economic sanctions against Russia that have been a disaster for many footwear companies. We will carry these actions as a fashion system and no longer as individual associations.”

"We have long felt the need for a federation that could represent fashion, textile and accessory sectors, but now there are the right conditions to unify the whole system." 

At a government level, footwear manufacturers’ associations believe they have greater chances in obtaining another long-appealed provision or the tax relief of the samples, which would further stimulate stylistic research across all sectors.

Leadership in Europe

The Confindustria Moda will be big enough to rank among the top three industrial associations in Italy and may be the only one capable of expressing Italian leadership in Europe.

“We enjoy 30% of European fashion,” says Aimpes president Riccardo Braccialini. “Unity is strength when it comes to dumping, training, sustainability and employment protection.”

“We are what the automotive industry represents for Germany,” adds Marenzi, “and, with the achieved cohesion we will be able to deal more with common issues such as counterfeiting, distribution and trade union relations. We can also highlight the Made in Italy brand.”

Confindustria Moda’s new headquarters will be in Corso Sempione in Milan. Each association will maintain its own strategic offices, and share resources including a study centre in order to develop a more comprehensive and broader analysis. UNIC, which retains its current offices, will enter as an aggregate partner.

“We will work together on the strategies of the confederation,” says Fulvia Bacchi, UNIC director, “and we think that the same need to create a unified system in Italy should be adopted at a European level to create a fashion confederation. We’d gain more weight, and this, in UNIC’s view, should be a priority.”

The expertise gained over the years by UNIC in the fields of scientific research, sustainability and training applied to the leather sector could find a wider application inside Confindustria Moda, opening up opportunities for development courses and consulting.

“It’s too early to think about a future that, at the moment, has no outlined contours,” says Bacchi. “We are all convinced that we can be stronger if we’ll be united, rather than divided, and Italy must finally do what France has always done with the Conseil National du Cuir. We need to create a team that can obtain shared goals.”

He also hopes for an EU law to protect the use of ‘pelle’ (skin) and ‘cuoio’ (leather) that would ban improper and misleading definitions such as ‘ecopelle’ (which can be applied to synthetic products).

The advantages of the constitution are considerable, and the risks currently seem be negligible. The impression is that the pressure made by the Italian Government to create a united fashion sector, initiated by former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and continued under the current Gentiloni Government through the action of the Ministry of Economic Development (with Minister Carlo Calenda, and Vice-Minister Ivan Scalfarotto, of the Made in Italy delegation).

"If we all do things together, the end result will be greater than the sum of the individual agendas. Two years of negotiations have made it possible to match our respective needs." 

“There is a good deal of chemistry between the presidents and directors of our associations,” says Cancellara, “and since transformation processes are also made by men and associations, this is very important. We are aware that if we all do things together, the end result will be greater than the sum of the individual agendas. Two years of negotiations have made it possible to match our respective needs.”

In it together

Braccialini adds: “I do not see any risks, and if, in the future, the current people are replaced, as usually the way of things, we have written very clear rules.”

Marenzi’s presidency should be an additional guarantee to this end. The exponent of Sistema Moda Italia and owner of Herno clothing company has demonstrated mediation ability as well as political power, as shown by his rise to the presidency of Pitti Immagine, the company that organises Pitti Uomo in Florence and other major fashion events. “Confindustria Moda,” concludes Marenzi “will also play another important role: it will promote the generational passage for craftsmanship.” 

Under the new association, events such as Lineapelle will still be run by their original organisers.
From left: Cirillo Marcolin, Ivan Scalfarotto, Vincenzo Boccia, Claudio Marenzi and Riccardo Braccialini.

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