Looking for some positive light for Italy’s future image Giannini turned to the Consorzio 100% Italiano. This organisation brings together Italian producers in the leather industry, who want to maintain Italy’s traditions of quality and fine workmanship and protect the good name of the Made in Italy label. They have established stringent guidelines ensuring that work is carried out both legally and to high standards by all their members. In the luxury leather industry much of the work is carried out by hand using traditional skills, in order to achieve the best quality. An example of a good handbag made by these methods was estimated to have cost 90 euros in labour and, with fine materials, a total of 300 euros to produce, which makes its retail price of 500 euros a fair and reasonable figure, though these high standards don’t give anything like the profit margin that the illegal workshops do for those who use them..
Companies that adhere to these principles tend to be small to medium sized producers of luxury Italian goods, who set a great value on true quality and ethical practices. Giannini interviewed a producer of luxury cashmere and a designer of quality Italian silk scarves, both of whom used the best quality materials and paid above average wages to the artisans working on their products
It seems that the future good name of prestigious Italian luxury goods is in the hands of those companies that advocate 100% Made in Italy. Anyone looking for a genuine quality Italian product should seek out companies that really do stick by these principles. The big fashion houses may have started out with similar high ideals but many of them have grown too far from their roots and become no more than corporate big businesses driven by economics, rather than by a love for their product and for the good name of the Italian fashion industry.
The final part of Giannini’s report looked at the fashion press as represented by top glossy magazines. There too she found that the supposedly independent press was affected by the power of commercial interests. Some journalists are also freelance consultants to a fashion house, so are no longer able to be completely objective in their reporting. Big magazines tend to give more coverage to fashion houses that take out expensive advertising with them.
All in all Giannini’s report rubs off some of the gloss from the world of haute couture and exposes the grubby realities of a competitive and unforgiving, commercial rat-race. It’s no wonder that she found herself persona non grata at the shows. Nobody likes having a mirror held up to their flaws, particularly not the fashion world which sets such great store on perfect grooming and glamour.