Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper), “A country of saints, poets, navigators and…tailors. Among the many excellences that Italy can boast there is certainly fashion, an industry that in 2022 had an enormous turnover: 86.7 billion euros.
If during the boom years – the 70s and the 80s – from the union of some textile districts – such as those of Como, Prato, and Biella – with the genius of some stylists, fashion houses and brands today known throughout the world were born, starting from the 2000s something broke. Many fashion houses have preferred to relocate, moving their production abroad – to Asia, Turkey, North Africa, or Eastern Europe – and thus humiliating the talents and quality of local textile craftsmanship.
Today there are 40,000 textile companies in Italy for a total of 400,000 workers employed (Italy represents more than a third at a European level). This is a sector increasingly at risk also because many big names improperly use the Made in Italy brand by exploiting the loose ends of the current European labeling system. Greater transparency and traceability is needed, as has already happened successfully in the agri-food sector.
THE ECODESIGN REGULATION
In March 2022, the European Commission presented a proposal for an ecodesign regulation that places new requirements and additional standards for the durability, repairability, energy efficiency, and recycling of textile products as well. This proposal establishes the responsibility of the producer and therefore valorizing textile production also guarantees the achievement of the new objectives to be achieved. The European Parliament voted on its position in the plenary session in July. Once definitively approved, the Commission will have to prepare six delegated acts and propose new specifications. This is the opportunity we have been waiting for.
A NEW LABELLING FOR TEXTILE
We often hear about Made in Italy, but only very few consumers know what it really means when applied to an item of clothing. Currently, the only mandatory information on the label of a garment or accessory is the washing and composition symbols. The brand refers to the origin of the last substantial step – the making – and instead neglects the other three substantial steps which are spinning, weaving, and ennobling, i.e. printing or dyeing. If we really want to defend Italian textiles and clothing, we must safeguard the integrity of the entire textile supply chain, a sector with peaks of excellence in the protection of workers’ rights, the environment, and consumer health and safety.
Our proposal – which we hope will gather broad and transversal consensus – is to make all four textile steps mandatory on the label, along the lines of what has already happened in France with the AGEC law.
The attribution of origin for each of the individual phases would happen in accordance with the European legislation already in force. There would therefore be no need to approve a new rule on origin and the digital passport of the product should not be modified, which can continue to contain all the other information deemed essential by the legislator. Among other things, the information on the origin of the four steps is information that all textile operators are already obliged to communicate, also to fulfill the obligations of the customs code. Therefore with our proposal the bureaucratic costs for companies in the sector would not increase.
As the President of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen recalled during her latest speech on the State of the Union, today we must overcome the great challenge of protecting the European production system from the aggressiveness and, sometimes even from unfair competition, of our competitors. The time has come to get serious.