Italian fashion week is underway in Milan with the industry staggering along the catwalks having been dealt a body blow by the economic crisis.
The rag trade is a mainstay of the Italian economy accounting for four percent of the country’s gross domestic product.
The industry’s turnover fell 15 percent last year with evidence emerging that cash strapped fashionistas are turning to fakes.
Euronew’s Patrícia Cardoso in Milan said: “In just this one week of fashion shows, here in Milan, the Italian fashion industry makes half of the season’s turnover, in this case, for the Autumn/Winter season 2010/2011. That money makes it a major target for counterfeiters”
Indeed Italian police recently seized 500,000 tons of fake goods near Rome.
Italy’s national retailers association estimates the counterfeit market is worth seven to eight billion euros a year in Italy and the garment workers union said it cost cost 4,000 jobs with billions lost in sales tax on the fakes.
Armando Brancchini of the trade association for the Italian luxury industry told euronews: “Counterfeiting has a very rich market in Italy and 90 percent of these products are made in China. What is needed is stricter customs controls to stop these items getting into the European market.”
Italy is trying to protect its 57,000 fashion firms, employing 650,000 people.
The industry says it is under seige with 2,000 companies having gone out of business in the last two years.