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The Confidustria Moda

The Confindustria Moda, which includes fashion, accessories and textiles, consists of more than 67,000 companies, 580,000 workers and achieves annual turnover of around 88 billion euros. Moreover, the fashion and textile industry make up approximately half of Italy’s commercial trade surplus. Italy has the largest number of luxury goods companies, with fashion companies such as Prada Group and Georgio Armani included in the top 25 firms by annual sales. Furthermore, it’s also home to six of the 25 fastest growing luxury firms including Valentino and Furla, who made it into the top five. Overall, about 40 percent of luxury clothing and footwear firms are in Italy.

Luxury brands are very expensive suggesting peak craftsmanship is involved in their production. However, an investigation by the New York Times reveals that some Italian workers making these items could be doing so in home workshops for an incredibly low pay.

The times interviewed some women earning €1.50 to €2 per hour embroidering wedding dresses and collected evidence of about 60 women in the Puglia region alone. Also an investigation by Italian newspaper Il Tacco D’Italia found footwear factories hiring women to sew shoe uppers in their homes for €0.70 to €0.90 per pair, this means that in 12 hours they might earn €7 to €9.

These workers are not only earning an unacceptable salary but also, they generally don’t have insurance, or any way to address issues such as being paid late, or not at all. 

Fashion companies contract factories to produce their clothes. The factory farms out the work to homeworkers, therefore the brands that homeworkers produce for may not always know they exist.

The question can be asked: “what do consumers expect when they buy fashion with a Made in Italy label?”. It’s also common knowledge that Italian factories may be staffed by low-paid Chinese immigrants.

Italy's fashion industry responded to accusations of widespread underpaid and undeclared subcontracted work saying that the problem is limited and already being dealt with.

The constant drive for consumers to be able to buy more for less could also be blamed.

Giulia Lombardo

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