What is the real danger in Bertelli’s opinion? Not that much offshoring, which is relocating abroad those manufacturing activities they used to carry out in Italy prior to lockdown. The real risk is rather the extinction of some made in Italy production: more specifically, the high-end one, whose own roots lie in small and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises. We are facing difficult times: that is why the fashion industry needs extraordinary tools to tackle the situation properly and get over the crisis, pointed out Prada managing director. Yet, while talking to Sette, the weekly magazine issued by the Corriere della Sera, Patrizio Bertelli stressed the fact that Italian government must have special consideration for small and medium enterprises: they are the ones who mostly run the risk of closing forever.
The real danger, according to Bertelli
“Thousands and thousands of businesses, all around the country” are indeed the core of Italian fashion, remarked Bertelli. They are actually the ones who need special consideration. “I suggest that the government should stand by them by allocating some non-repayable funds – pointed out the entrepreneur –. Of course, financial support must be given to sound companies, not to the dodgy ones”. Besides that, in the current situation company sizes are important: “Prada may well pay back loans – he admitted –, but you cannot overburden artisans with such concern. Not to mention that many of them are elderly people: they would therefore wonder about the best option, either to keep working or stop their activity forever. In plain words, such crisis might cause several companies to shut down faster”.
In the last few weeks, they much talked about backshoring opportunities and offshoring risks, mostly related to lockdown and Coronavirus upheaval. Yet, argued Bertelli, the overall situation proves more complicated to Italian high-end manufacturers. On the one hand, some manufacturing activities run the risk of relocating abroad. In addition, on the other hand, when skilled and expert artisans stop working, some products will disappear consequently. “In such cases our society evolves towards other directions and looks for other products – he explained –. Human beings adapt to changing conditions. Therefore, some products are bound to fall into disuse: giving a striking example, think about walking sticks. Since artisans, who used to make them, do not work anymore, people will not buy and use them anymore”.
What to do
We must safeguard made in Italy manufacturing then: “I have been striving for that all my life –emphasized Bertelli –. We know exactly how many small and medium-sized factories are currently running all around Italy. Undoubtedly, they are fashion’s core work and business: namely, accessories, hides and skins, tanneries and fabrics”. Working the problem out is not up to government only: all citizens must take full responsibility and do their own part. The managing director of Prada is angry with those who, in the last few months, “were not ready to make any sacrifice at all, therefore showing selfishness regardless of the country, society, ethical principles. Regardless of anything, – he wrapped up –. Many people will be in trouble because of some individuals, who simply do not want to understand the situation. Detrimental effects are going to hit the industrial supply chain as much as workers, who need to work and get a salary to make ends meet”.
Bertelli hopes that Italian fashion will be able to speak out through their delegated representatives:“There is not a single organization, in the fashion industry, appointed to talk with the Government: metalworkers, in contrast, have it. Traditionally, they have been enjoying higher consideration, despite their smaller number, compared to ours. Lack of representatives eventually undermines our social identity. We actually need an association representing us inside the system, spotlighting our issues and, most of all, making them known”.