Italian Fashion Chamber and UniCredit Bank team up to promote sustainability in fashion
Italy is keen to make its fashion industry truly eco-sustainable. On Wednesday, the Italian Fashion Chamber (Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana - CNMI) has unveiled a new loan programme designed to provide concrete support to the introduction of eco-responsible fashion industry practices. The 'Funding Sustainability' programme was set up with UniCredit, Italy's largest bank by asset value and the official sponsor of the Milan Fashion Week since 2015.
Assisted by CNMI, UniCredit will select a series of companies with up to 250 employees, working as direct suppliers or sub-contractors for major fashion labels affiliated to CNMI. The fund is designed to help these SMEs make their manufacturing practices eco-sustainable.
"For the very first time, a fashion industry association and a bank are launching a funding project entirely dedicated to the issue of sustainability," said CNMI President Carlo Capasa.
"We were the first to draw up a list of ecological criteria valid for the whole industry. But for fashion labels to be able to comply with these standards, the entire manufacturing and supply chain must be able to adopt them. This means the industry in its entirety must be involved in the transformation, and follow the same direction," he said.
UniCredit has endowed the project with an initial capital of €30 million, through funds made available by the European Investment Bank. The idea is to fund medium to long-term investments designed to improve manufacturing operations, for example by eliminating dangerous substances from textile production or using clean energy.
"This is the start of a journey. The real news is that sustainability has now become the differentiating factor among brands," said Dario Prunotto, Executive Vice-President in charge of local development for UniCredit.
In the past, the bank had joined forces with SMI, the Italian fashion industry's employers association, to allow small suppliers of major Made-in-Italy labels to access credit finance on terms that were the same as those generally accorded to more powerful corporations.
This new initiative marks a different sort of approach for the bank, as noted by Dario Prunotto: "Our role isn't to finance the SMEs' debt, but to fund their investment, and we will do so in a customised way, taking into account the diversity of players active in this industry."
For CNMI, the operation is another step along a path it embarked on a few years ago when, together with SMI, it established a set of eco-sustainable manufacturing standards for the industry.
CNMI has made eco-sustainability its rallying cry, and has also recently launched the Oscars for eco-sustainable fashion, by creating the Green Carpet Fashion Awards, to be presented for the first time at the forthcoming Milan Fashion Week.
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