The Italian fashion week in Milan still tops the international calender, drawing hundreds of fashionistas, photographers and journalists from around the world.
Behind the glitter of the catwalks this week lurked the long shadow of the economic crisis. And fashion houses and designers are feeling the pinch.
A major concern is the size and impact of the counterfeit market. The rag trade plays a vital part in the Italian economy accounting for four percent of the country’s GDP. However, the industry’s turnover dropped by 15 percent last year. Fake products are being blamed for some of the downturn as Santo Versace, president of Altagamma and Versace remarks:
“The European Commission, the European Parliament have the duty to create the maximum of transparency. If you purchase a counterfeit product, first of all you’re supporting the black economy and in practice, tax evasion as well as child labour and the financing of organized crime.
So if you buy a fake article I think that you’ll be ashamed of yourself.”
The national retailers association estimates the counterfeit market is worth up to eight billion euros a year. The fashion industry feels it is under seige. Several thousand companies went out of business last year.