“MADE IN ITALY” IN CRISIS

March 19th, 2009
Rubric: Italian peculiarities, THE GLENI DIARY

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HOW CAN WE GET THROUGH THIS DIFFICULT TIME?

gleni-diaryFor several months now, all we’ve heard has been endless talk about the economic recession on every front. Purchases have dropped dramatically in comparison to the beginning of 2008 and many Italian manufacturing companies, as well as European and global ones are facing many difficulties in going forward with their work and in marketing their products.

What is most striking, and that makes us reflect even more on the difficult time we are experiencing, is that even the fashion industry, and the big brands, are in great difficulties and the effects are quite noticeable. Just take a look at the recent fashion weeks: no excess, no whimsical accessories, clothing styles are more sober and quiet, made of fabrics which are more accessible in price to make these designs more affordable and therefore easier to sell. In the fashion world people are talking of  ”luxury shame“,  the  shame of displaying  too much luxury in a time of such serious and heartfelt economic crisis.

The crisis is affecting  everybody, big  and small companies, famous brands and less famous ones: people are already talking about a decline of about 15% in sales of luxury goods.
The “Made in Italy” label, perhaps, is the sector that, in this period of global crisis, seems to be reacting a little better than others, defending the authenticity and the high quality manufacturing of the genuine Italian product, but, despite this, Made in Italy also seems to be experiencing serious difficulty.

Why has this crisis brought the entire world economy to its knees?  What has caused this recession and how can we face and resolve it as best as we can, so as to improve trade and return to our competitive position in the world? Does this crisis really exist or is it just an invention of the media intended  to alarm customers and influence the economy? In these difficult periods it is said  that only the strongest survive, but who are these strong companies? And what happens to small businesses? Are they supposed to shut up shop, without any hope at all?

We have tried to answer these questions  to help ourselves understand what is happening, and if the situation is really as bad as it seems and as the newspapers and TV are making it appear, but, above all to find a possible solution to this problem which is affecting everybody, especially those small artisan production companies, like us.

We can’t pretend that nothing is happening , because the problems are there and even our company, which specializes in producing luxury goods, is significantly affected by its negative influence. However, we have never considered giving up and closing the shutters of our craftsman workshops, but , right from the beginning we have made a huge effort to find a way out, a possible solution to this difficult time. In the first place, we have never talked of a “crisis” but of an “economic change”, defining this as a particular period when it is essential to take stock, modify things, discuss exciting new projects, taking solid decisions to improve our company and our business, making it fresh, healthy, competitive and exciting. The use of  the word “crisis” is demoralizing, sapping us of all that energy and those fresh ideas that are, especially now, absolutely essential for us to move forwards in our craftsmanship.

So what strategies can we adopt in order to survive the so-called “crisis” and make the name of the prestigious Made in Italy product flourish anew?

Would it be better to lower  the prices of the products, making them more accessible to a broader section of people, even though this would reduce the quality of the materials used and of the manufacture of the product itself  or, is it precisely at this time that we should rather  focus  on  the exclusivity and on the quality of the product, assuring all our customers of a truly unique item, symbol of the genuine  Made in Italy style?

In our opinion, the second solution is the right one to take into consideration, because especially in this period of crisis and uncertainty, people are in search of good quality, authentic items in which to invest their money, avoiding  impulse buys, but focusing their attention on the quality of what they buy, rather than on the quantity.

Many companies producing  Made in Italy products, seem to have taken a step back in conjunction with the economic recession, returning  to the origins of their production processes, paying attention to the selected materials, in order to produce a more healthy, genuine, handcrafted item, where each creation is the result of commitment, passion and experience, each article created is a piece of Italian history and tradition.

This is the most appropriate time to review all the things that, have been changed or lost over the years;  it’s time to think over  and rediscover ourselves and our roots, to turn back and maybe take a totally different direction, this time focusing our efforts on the creation of a product that represents us and the traditions of our past. As mentioned at the beginning of our reflections , what we are experiencing is a period of transformation and change, which, if properly addressed, will certainly lead us to more positive results.

Italy needs to rediscover itself, its passion and its artisan production, its skill and its immense love for creativity and genuine craftsmanship: this is the only way we can succeed in bringing the true  ”Made in Italy” product back to  the level of fame and prestige it deserves.

We all must learn to respect and put to good use the huge resources offered by our Italian heritage, giving importance and prestige to the culture and traditions that characterize our country. We must take a few steps back and take advantage of all the beautiful things that are our legacy from the artisan tradition of the great Italian masters, instead of moving towards a kind of globalized product, which is cold and lacks identity or history.

We have to make good use of what we have been taught and been passed down over the years, learning to be ourselves, at the cost of appearing “strange” in the eyes of others, of those who follow the vortex of technological fashion, and are alienated from their roots and traditions. Only in this way, through our simplicity, our autonomy and our refusal to comply with  laws of the masses, can we still manage to create something pure, beautiful and “top quality”.

We must return to be ourselves and to respect the valuable experience of our beautiful Italian territory. Only then, can we finally talk about the rebirth of Italy once more, an Italy that works and produces even in times of crisis, a place where technical mastery, creative and productive skills are newly the cornerstones, the distinguishing features of the whole “Italian system”. It is essential to embrace change if we really want the genuine Italian product to assert itself in the market once again, distinguishing itself from the rest with its creativity and pure sincerity.

It’s time to restore the luster and prestige, which the “Made in Italy” product has always enjoyed and which have made it famous all over the world, but , if we want to reach this important goal, we must go back to the origins of the true Italian craftsmanship!


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