MILAN, Italy — The words "Made in Italy" have long been the pride of the Italian fashion system. But, in recent years, controversy has erupted as the Italian fashion industry has faced a crisis of confidence.
In late 2007, a Rai3 documentary called Slaves of Luxury "revealed a slimy world of underpaid immigrant labour, huge price mark-ups, and what was portrayed to be undue influence from American heavyweights like Anna Wintour," as reported by BoF at the time.
Indeed, speaking to Il Giornale newspaper about the demise of his business after 50 years, longtime Italian manufacturer Giancarlo De Bortoli of Confezioni Herry's lambasted the Italian fashion brands for their lack of ethics, slowly "strangling" businesses like his over the years. The financial crisis was the final blow, bringing the Italian fashion industry to its knees and sending companies like Confezioni Herry's and Mariella Burani into administration.
Thankfully, the news from Italy isn't all bad. In his interview with Il Giornale, Mr. Bertoli also singled out small companies like Roberta Furlanetto and Luisa Beccaria that are still making the best of Italian craftsmanship.
Roberta Furlanetto cut her fashion teeth by collaborating with Christian Lacroix, Christian Dior and Azzedine Alaïa. Her 3 year old eponymous company designs all of its embroidery in-house and everything is ethically Made in Italy, working only with the best Italian artisans using biologically sustainable materials whenever possible, an approach highlighted by the brand's participation in Cittadellarte Fashion BEST (Bio, Ethical, Sustainable, Trend) with Franca Sozzani and Michelangelo Pistoletto, and featured by friends of BoF at the EVER Manifesto.
But ethics aside, success in fashion always comes down to the product, and here Ms. Furlanetto also shines, having quietly won over some of the best stockists in the world, including Dover Street Market in London, L’Eclaireur in Paris, Gio Moretti in Milan, and famed boutique Linda Dresner in Michigan. Susie Bubble also recently raved about Furlanetto's "articulated finery and precious gowns."
We at the BoF agree and wish Roberta the best of luck in achieving her unique vision for the future of Italian fashion as we put her signature embroidery into the BoF Spotlight.
The Spotlight is BoF’s showcase for emerging talent employing creativity and business acumen to make their mark in the fashion business.