Sustainability in the Italian Fashion Industry - an Insight

The post-covid crisis that the fashion sector is currently facing requires a rethinking of the sector, from big brands to smaller to medium enterprises. New values and sustainable productions will be key success factors, as outlined in a report on fashion and sustainability 2020 created by the consultancy firm Cikis. The Milanese consultancy firm has developed the Report on fashion and sustainability 2020 to provide a current state view of the industry, and the reflection required for the entire sector after Covid-19, as declared by some of the great names of the fashion system, first of all Giorgio Armani.

The study carried out analyzed the situation of small to medium enterprises in Italy (the backbone of the fashion industry) through telephone interviews with founders, management and owners for a total of 83 companies. “With the crisis due to Covid, companies will have to investigate sustainability issues - said Serena Moro, founder of Cikis - and as many as 73% of the interviewees declared that they have begun to integrate sustainability practices; unfortunately the lack of skills prevents them from focusing on critical elements “.The fashion sector has a very important impact on the environment and climate change and sustainable development is now an urgency for the entire supply chain.

A study by the Boston Consulting Group, Higg Index and Sustainable Apparel Coalition, predicts that during this year the economic crisis will lead to the closure of 30% of the activities in the fashion sector. In this study we read that sustainability will be one of the main levers for the development of businesses in the near future and for reviving the entire sector. In Italy the fashion market is worth 97 billion euros, in April there were 550 thousand workers on layoffs out of a total of 580 thousand. This particular historical moment therefore requires a profound reflection not only for the fashion system but for the entire production system which is no longer sustainable. It is necessary to create resilient businesses, prevent health, climate and economic emergencies.

With Covid, Armani's appeal to celebrities is : "It's time to re-use clothes". Giorgio Armani, after the first lockdown: "Luxury needs time to be appreciated". He is suggesting to celebrities to re-use their clothes and suggests a slowdown of the Italian fashion industry.


Giorgio Armani is suggesting a move away from the frenzy of many other fashion houses to embrace a different approach, defined as “slower”. During the last lockdown in March / April, the designer suggested that luxury cannot and must not be fast. Luxury needs time to be achieved and appreciated.


He shared that the reactions to his suggestion of the 'slow' model have been "very positive both in Europe and in America and, unexpectedly, also in Asia. He says, that  he has received a large number of letters and messages with positive feedback and the store managers have confirmed it. He further observes that he finds it absurd that, in the middle of winter, you can only find linen dresses in stores, and alpaca coats in summer. He further comments about the excess of supply compared to the actual need, criticizing the concept of the pre-collections in addition to those presented during the statutory fashion weeks.  From a sustainability perspective, in addition to merging pre-collections and runway shows, the Armani brand also introduced the green R-EA collection by Emporio Armani, bringing the sustainable percentage for the AX Armani Exchange line as well as the sustainable percentage to 40%. commitment to use natural materials for Armani Casa too.

Another example of a sustainable approach to fashion is Brunelllo Cucinelli. He favors a new social contract, applying a sustainable capitalism approach based on social solidarity principles.

Brunello Cucinelli is an Italian fashion designer, entrepreneur and philanthropist. In 1978, he founded Brunello Cucinelli S.p.A. and is still chairman. The company has been listed on the Milan Stock Exchange since 2012. The fashion company of Italy's "King of cashmere" Brunello Cucinelli is proof that solidarity based, sustainable capitalism can actually work. According to Forbes, Cucinelli is among the 30 richest Italians. He refers to is vision of capitalism of the future, meaning making fair profit - throughout the entire supply chain. Those who raise the cashmere goats should work in humane conditions — with decent jobs and a decent wage. Cucinelli meets with the suppliers personally and the approach of the supplier earning from the trade, the worker earning, the industry earning and the goat farmer earning - appears to work. Everything is based on respect for the moral and economic dignity of every person in this value chain. Brunello Cucinelli published his idea for a 'New Social Contract with Creation' on Instagram. 

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